Coruche Balloon Festival Portugal

 Coruche balloon festival
Coruche is situated about 48km inland from Lisbon and we discovered it and its Balloon Festival quite by chance. I tend to look for rivers, lakes or dams for overnight stops and this is how we discovered Coruche. And they threw in a balloon festival to impress us too!

 Coruche balloon festival
The town sits on the banks of the Sorraia River (a Tagus river tributary) and supplies the rice production with water as well the cork oaks. Apparently 5 million cork stoppers are produced in the area daily – hell, that makes my wine consumption look marginal in comparison! Cork Oak Trees are really beautiful and are “peeled” every 10 years or so for their bark. Portugal produces not only cork stoppers from all the cork, but also handbags, jewellery, wallets, pens and a myriad of other things.
 Coruche balloon festival
But back to The Balloon Festival. We pulled in to town and found a lovely spot directly on the riverbanks across from the town. We were surprised by the number of people walking about, but didn’t at first find the balloon starting site. There was a fair with rides and activities for kids and big kids, lots of food to be bought, musicians and television people milling about and an enormous yellow balloon sponge bob type thing rising above the town. Hundreds of cars and campervans were parked everywhere and we assumed it was the annual village fair.
 Portuguese celebrities at the Coruche balloon festival
Then they started firing up the balloons and soon the air was filled with 20 or 30 hot air balloons. Fantastic! They were a little unfortunate with the weather as it was grey and there was no wind. Grey is not good for taking photos (important to me) and no wind is no good for keeping out of the corn fields (no good for them). They did, however, manage to keep themselves just above the fields and eventually floated away into the sunset (or shall we say the place where the sunset would have been had there been any sun at all!).
 Coruche balloon festival
I can’t say I lay awake at night wondering where the next hot air balloon festival will be, but it was very impressive and I am glad we happened upon the festival. Only downside to Coruche is that they have an enormous population of mosquitos and a whole group of the little blood suckers decided to join us on our further travels…next time have a lot more anti-mozzi stuff with us!
 Coruche balloon festival
The next morning, however, we were slightly rewarded for the hundreds of bites by loads of hot air balloons drifting (or does one say flying?) over the campervan as the festival came to an end. Adieu Coruche and thank you for your balloons!
 Coruche balloon festival
PS: We were there on the 3rd and 4th of November and the festival apparently ran from the 31st of October to the 4th of November. This is the second time Coruche has hosted this festival and the photos from last year were definitely more spectacular as they had beautiful weather. Fingers crossed for next year.

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