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World’s largest hot air balloon gathering kicks off

A multi-coloured sporting, cultural and touristic event, the ‘Mondial Air Ballons’ takes place every two years in Meurthe-et-Moselle

Drawing visitors from across the Grand Est and beyond, From July 21 to July 30 thousands of visitors are gathering at the Chambley-Bussières former United States Air Force base in Meurthe-et-Moselle to watch hundreds of hot air balloons take flight simultaneously.

Created in 1989 to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, this year's event is the fifteenth and the largest of its kind according to Guinness World Records 2013.

A record 433 hot air balloons took off simultaneously in 2015, and the event brought together people from 45 nationalities, including 1000 pilots.

With 175 business and community partners, the event attracts 400,000 visitors annually and generates up to €20 million. Hot air ballooning is a costly sport, with each air balloon weighing in at €60,000.

This year, strong winds of up to 30km per hour made it hard to inflate the balloons, which have to be secured to the ground for half an hour. The wind, combined with the unstable weather conditions over the weekend, made it impossible to break the record set in 2015. There may be other attempts over the course of the week.

The event is not without its dramatic moments. On Saturday evening a British crew got stuck in a tree in Metz following a storm.

Bad weather today has kept some balloons grounded:

Some very novel balloons could be seen in the air:

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