|The skies of the Alentejo were more colorful on last Sunday, with the start of the biggest festival of hot air balloons held in Portugal, involving 35 teams from various European countries.|
Photography by João Gomes from United Photo Press and promoted by Publibalão company and with the collaboration of Alentejo without Borders - Ballooning Club, the 19th edition of the International Festival of Hot Air Ballooning will held 15th of this month, in Alter do Chão municipalities, Frontier and Monforte, in the district Portalegre.
"This year we had some setbacks to mount the festival, but fortunately everything was solved and is giving a huge joy to see inscribed new teams, counting again with the collaboration of a municipality (Monforte) and introduce new flying sites," said today Lusa agency Aníbal Soares, one of the leaders of the organization.
This year, the event saw the participation of 35 teams from Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, the UK, Holland and Germany.
In addition to performing captive flights, the festival has to offer, daily, free flights (the usual balloon trips).
"The weather was friendly and good weather made color the Alentejo skies. We thus have a week of flights with fabulous images and therefore exceeded our expectations which were already quite high, "he said.
In previous editions, the number of registered teams have been higher, but according Aníbal Soares, the "economic situation" does not allow the participation of a larger number of teams at the festival.
"Things are not easy and we also had to reduce the inscriptions. In addition to the economic situation, this decision also has to do with a strategy that we have, because, for the year, we celebrate 20 editions of the festival, "he said.
In this sense, in 2016, Aníbal Soares promises that the 20th edition of the festival will be a "major event" and a "larger number" of participants to mark the date.
Since this is an event that "projects" Alentejo in the world, the official lamented, however, that there are regional organizations that "do not understand the impact" that the initiative has across borders and therefore do not give your contribution .
The International Festival of Hot Air Ballooning, the oldest of its kind in Portugal, has roots in Portalegre district, having served as a basis for opening in 2012, the first school in the country for hot air balloon pilots in Border.