The world’s largest hot-air balloon gathering

From July 21 to 30, 2023, over 700 pilots from 50 nations will gather at the Chambley-Bussières airfield in Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, for the magical Grand Est Mondial Air Ballons (GEMAB).

It’s a magnificent sight to see hundreds of balloons of all shapes and colors take to the skies of Lorraine for ten days. Organized every two years, the event’s slogan is “What brings us together”. And what brings together the 500,000 visitors from many countries, the 3,000 pilots and their crews, is the magic of these multicolored bubbles suspended in the sky, morning and evening.

Mass take-off and pilot parade

Philippe Buron Pilâtre (Photo GEMAB)
Philippe Buron Pilâtre (Photo GEMAB)

Created more than 30 years ago by Philippe Buron Pilâtre (PBP), a former AFP journalist who has now turned his hand to event management, the Mondial Air Ballons is a major event in the heart of summer: a sporting, popular and economic event (over €40 million in economic spin-offs), this great festival of the air is eagerly awaited by lovers of the epic of aerostation.
On the program, entertainment in the air: mass hot-air balloon take-off, starting at 7 a.m. (weather permitting). And on the ground, incredible activities: balloon belly, mini hot-air balloons, virtual reality hot-air balloon flight, Pilâtre de Rozier aeromuseum… First flights in microlights, airplanes, gliders and, of course, hot-air balloons.
At the end of the day, a parade of pilots and a mass take-off of hot-air balloons. July 21 and 28: Astronomy nights.

Ten days of celebration

GEMAB represents the very best in social, cultural and generational diversity. Over 400 volunteers and members of the organization work together to create these 10 days of celebration.
“It’s important to remember that the support of the Région Grand Est and its 200 partners makes it possible to offer admission and parking to the visiting public,” emphasizes Philippe Buron Pilâtre.
It should be noted that some 30 high school students (operation P.P.A.- Passeport pour l’Aventure) will be taking part in this international event. As will the 3ᵉ RHC from Étain, the French Navy and BA 133 from Nancy-Ochey, as well as the SIRPA, in partnership with the aeronautical branch of the Lycée Jean-Zay from Jarny (54) and the 1ᵉʳ régiment du Service Militaire Volontaire from Montigny-lès-Metz.
In conjunction with “savanturier” Bertrand Piccard, the organizers will be celebrating the 240th anniversary of the first human flight by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, the illustrious Lorraine native born in Metz (1754-1785) who paved the way for the conquest of the air from Paris on November 21, 1783.

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