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58 hot air balloons take off in Sint-Niklaas: "Unique in the world"

Dozens of hot air balloons took off together for the occasion of the "Vredesfeesten" in Sint-Niklaas, East Flanders, on Sunday evening. A complex event, but great fun to watch. 

Sint-Niklaas has a long-time tradition of hot air balloons. They have been part of the Vredesfeesten (Peace Festival) for decades after the festival started at the end of World War II. The giant market square - the biggest in Flanders - traditionally served as the venue.  

The balloons should have taken off on Friday and Saturday evening as well, but the weather was too unstable then. So many lifting off at the same time at the same place remains a complex operation, organiser Roy Sax told the VRT. "We can't take any risks. The whole lot together increases the risk of possible incidents."

However, no problems arose and the balloons were blown towards Antwerp. They didn't get as far as the city, because they had to land again before dark.  

"This is unique in Europe, unique in the world. In order to experience this as a Sint-Niklaas resident, is really special", says hot air balloon pilot Evert Dehandschutter.  

Sint-Niklaas mayor Lieven Dehandschutter (nationalist) has reassured his people that the event will continue, even after the market square will have been revamped to allow more space for water, trees and green areas. 

Watch the video here:

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