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Traditional Festivals in Switzerland

Our customs are as diverse as the Swiss themselves. The fact that we originate from different cultures, and speak four different official languages makes the festivals we celebrate even more interesting.

Valleys that were cut off in winter from the rest of Switzerland developed unique traditions that are alive to this day. Our various customs and folk traditions celebrate our rich visual and acoustic heritage. In our fast-paced world, our culture survives only when celebrated!


Festivals in Switzerland

And celebrate we do. Heck, we even celebrate when nobody else cares except the folks in our own town. Festivals range from colourful folk spectacles to medieval celebrations, from weird sport events to sophisticated entertainment in the arts.

There's probably not a weekend that goes by without a fair, a festival, or a concert. The sheer number of our cultural celebrations is astonishing and the variety is remarkable. In fact, it would be impossible to list each and every event we celebrate in our small alpine nation.

The festivals listed below are some of the most interesting Swiss celebrations that take place throughout the year. But - wherever you stay or pass through, check in with the local tourist office to see what's going on. Sometimes, the smallest festival, only celebrated in that particular town or village, tells you more about our culture than the largest gathering can do.

Traditional Festivals in Switzerland Year-round

January | February | March | April | May | June | July |

August | September | October | November | December

January

Horn sled races

Hornsledrace in Fideris - a winter festival

Where: Mostly in the Alpine regions of Graubünden, Glarus and the Bernese Oberland

When: Anywhere between January and March

Traditional horn-sled and toboggan races have a long tradition in Switzerland and are among the winter highlights. They are a fun event for the whole family. You can participate or just enjoy them as a spectator. Some are more elaborately celebrated than others, but there's always some form of party at the end of the day when the winners are announced.

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Harder Potschete

Harder festival in Interlaken

Where: Interlaken West (Bernese Oberland)

When: Always on January 2nd

Harder "Potschen" (Masks) have a long tradition in Interlaken. The Potschen parade is a yearly event that always takes place on January 2nd.
Start at 1.30pm on the Market Square.

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Silvesterchlausen

Silvesterchlausen in Urnaesch

Where: Urnäsch, Herisau, Hundwil, Stein, Waldstatt, Schwellbrunn, und Schönengrund (Canton Appenzell)

When: January 13 and December 31 each year (except if these dates fall on a Saturday, then the celebrations take place on Saturday)

Colourful groups of masks wander from house to house, where they ring their bells, yodel unique to the Appenzell, and wish each family per handshake a prosperous and happy new year.

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Witches Downhill Race

Where: Bellalp/Blatten (Canton Valais)

When: 16.01.2016

Switzerland's craziest downhill race. The regular racers start first, followed by groups of witches.
It's a fun week for all ages, starting with a mini witch (kids) race on January 9. But the highlight sure are the Saturday races of the different groups of witches.
This is part of the regular Belalp Derby. Friday and Saturday Witches night with life music and DJ's.

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Schlitteta

Sledding festival in the Engadin

Where: St. Moritz, Pontresina, Samedan, Champfèr, Silvaplana, Bever (Graubünden)

When: Mid January to end of February (Dates below)

  • 09.01.2016: Pontresina
  • 16.01.2016: Champfèr
  • 23.01.2016: St. Moritz
  • 30.01.2016: Bever
  • 06.02.2016: Silvaplana
  • 20.02.2016: Samedan

Dates are not guaranteed. Please email the tourist offices in Pontresina or Silvaplana shortly before the event to make sure the Schlitteta takes place.

This is an old tradition celebrated in many villages in Graubünden, though not as elaborate as in the Engadin. In the olden days when a young man picked up his girl from the farm in a horse drawn sled to attend a dance it was also meant as a marriage proposal. Here, a couple in their best finery is carried through the winter landscape on a horse-drawn sleigh. Village festival atmosphere.


International Balloon Festival

International Balloon festival in Chateau-d'Oex, Switzerland

Where: Château'd'Oex (Fribourg)

When: 23. - 31.01.2016

More than 80 multicolored balloons will fill the air above Château-d'Oex, the valley of Albeuve and the Castle of Gruyères. Daily competitions and air shows. Passenger flights are possible.

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Vogel Gryff

Vogel Gryff - a festival in Basel

Where: Basel

When: 27.01.2016

A spectacle with historic significance held in Kleinbasel (district in the city of Basel). The heraldic figure Vogel Gryff parades on the right bank of the Rhine River.
Start at 10:30 am when the Vogel Gryff floats dancing to rhythms of the drums and gun salutes on a raft down the River Rhine.
Approximately noon: Dance of the figures before "Käppeljoch" and on the Middle Rhine Bridge. The dates alternate between January 13, 20, and 27.
At 1 pm the groups meet for lunch at the Basel fair ground (Basler Messe).

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Swiss Carnival celebrations

Carnivals in Switzerland

Where: All over Switzerland

When: anywhere between end of January to May

That's the time when the reserved Swiss get a bit crazy :) I've compiled a list of the most impressive ones.

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February

Horn sled races

Hornsledrace in Fideris - a winter festival

Where: Mostly in the Alpine regions of Graubünden, Glarus and the Bernese Oberland

When: Anywhere between January and March

Traditional horn-sled and toboggan races have a long tradition in Switzerland and are among the winter highlights. They are a fun event for the whole family. You can participate or just enjoy them as a spectator. Some are more elaborately celebrated than others, but there's always some form of party at the end of the day when the winners are announced.

More

Swiss Carnival celebrations

Carnivals in Switzerland

Where: All over Switzerland

When: anywhere between end of January to May

That's the time when the reserved Swiss get a bit crazy :) I've compiled a list of the most impressive ones.

More

Horn sled races

Hornsledrace in Fideris - a winter festival

Where: Mostly in the Alpine regions of Graubünden, Glarus and the Bernese Oberland

When: Anywhere between January and March

Traditional horn-sled and toboggan races have a long tradition in Switzerland and are among the winter highlights. They are a fun event for the whole family. You can participate or just enjoy them as a spectator. Some are more elaborately celebrated than others, but there's always some form of party at the end of the day when the winners are announced.

More

Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

More

Tschäggättä

Tschäggättä, a scary mask at the Lötschental festival

Where: Blatten, Ferden and Wiler in the Lötschental (Canton Valais)

When: 04 - 06.02.2016

The legend of the Tschäggättä is uniquely celebrated in the Lötschental. Clad in fur and elaborate masks, the creatures sneak through the village streets throughout the week.

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International horse race on ice

International Horse race in St. Moritz

Where: St. Moritz (Graubünden)

When: 07 / 14 / 21.02.2016

The international horse race "White Turf" takes place on the frozen lake of St. Moritz amidst the impressive Engadin alps.

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March

Swiss Carnival celebrations

Carnivals in Switzerland

Where: All over Switzerland

When: anywhere between end of January to May

That's the time when the reserved Swiss get a bit crazy :) I've compiled a list of the most impressive ones.

More

Chalandamarz

Chalandamarz, an ancient custom in the Engadin

Where:Various villages in the Engadin and Albula regions (Graubünden)

When: 28.2. - 02.03. Every Year

Children ring enormous cow bells to drive out the evil spirits of winter. An outdoor party of whip-cracking, singing, and good food in Graubünden.

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Fuchstival

Snow Ski and fun at the Fuchstival on Danusa

Where: Grüsch-Danusa in the Prättigau Valley (Graubünden)

When: 12.03.2016

Ski and snow board fest for the whole family. Pop and rock with life bands in the family ski resort Danusa.

Festival day pass CHF 55 advance booking; CHF 65 at the day cash desk. Teenagers CHF 45/65 (admission including mountain transport).

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Engadin Ski Marathon

Ski marathon in the Engadin

Where: Between Maloja and S-chanf in the Engadin, Graubünden

When: 13.03.2016

A real crowd gatherer (approx. 12,000 participants). Switzerland's largest cross-country ski marathon.

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Basel World

Basel World Exhibition

Where: Basel

When: 17. March - 24. March, 2016

The World Watch and Jewelry Show. Admission CHF 60/Day; CHF 150 for the whole show. Open daily 9am to 6pm

Ticket sale starts in December 2015.


Easter Procession and Passion Play

Passion Play in Mendrisio, Switzerland

Where: Mendrisio (Canton Ticino)

When: Yearly event on Easter

This is the most impressive celebration of Easter traditions in Switzerland.

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Les Pleureuses (Wailing Women)

The wialing women of Romont - les pleureuses

Where: Romont (Canton Fribourg)

When: Good Friday (afternoon)

The ceremony begins in the afternoon in the church with a reading of the Passion of Christ. The "funeral cortège" of the "Wailing Women" walk behind the Virgin Mary, represented by a young girl, through the town.

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Tulip Festival

Tulip spring festival in Morges, Switzerland

Where: Morges - Parc de l'Indépendance (Canton Vaud)

When: 27 March - 08 May, 2016

A dazzling array of approximately 12,000 tulips (over 300 varieties) bloom for about six weeks every spring on the shores of Lake Geneva. Free of charge. Morges is a beautiful city between Nyon and Lausanne and worth a visit year-round.


April

Swiss Carnival celebrations

Carnivals in Switzerland

Where: All over Switzerland

When: anywhere between end of January to May

That's the time when the reserved Swiss get a bit crazy :) I've compiled a list of the most impressive ones.

More

Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

More

Eierleset (Easter Tradition)

Eierleset, an ancient Easter tradition in Effingen, Switzerland

Where: Effingen (Canton Aargau)

When: 3 April 2016 (every second year)

The "Eierleset" (roughly translated as "Egg collecting") is an ancient spring tradition and symbolizes the awakening of nature. The egg as a symbol of fertility is at the heart of the event.

The old folk custom of "Eierleset" attracts approx. one thousand spectators.

Because of the extensive preparations that are necessary for this elaborately celebrated event, the "Eierleset" only takes place every second year.

Celebrations on main street, starting shortly after 2pm; Evening party at 8pm in the Gymnasium.

How to get to Effingen

  • from Zürich approx. 40 minutes by train and bus;
  • from Bern just over 1 hour by train and bus.
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Künstlerbörse Thun / Swiss Artists Exchange

Swiss Artists Exchange in Thun

Where: Thun (Congress center KKL) (Canton Bern)

When: 14 - 17.04.2016

The Swiss Artist Exchange is Switzerland's biggest event in the field of small arts, cabaret and comedy shows. Over 300 Swiss and international artists present their new program from a-cappella, comedy, to puppet shows, from break dance to hipp-hopp, jazz, and salon music to dance theater. This is not only a trade fair, but also appeals to the interested audience. Each group gives a 20-minute presentation of their new program.

All day entertainment on multiple platforms in and around the "Kultur and Kongresszentrum KKL" Thun, Seestrasse 68.


Näfelser Fahrt (Battle of Näfels)

Commemoration of the battle of Naefels, Glarus

Where: Näfels (Capital of the Canton Glarus)

When: 17.04.2016

The people of Glarus commemorate their victory over the Hapsburg in 1388 with a colourful historic procession each year. This custom is celebrated since 1389.

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Sechseläuten (Burning of the Böögg)

Burning of the boogie man in Zürich

Where: Zürich

When: 17 - 18 April 2016 (3rd Monday in April - yearly event)

Ancient spring custom of chasing away winter by burning the Böögg - a "disguised, masked man" - sitting on a huge stack of wood. The procession of the guilds (Zug der Zünfte) parade from the Bahnhofstrasse to Limmatquai and the Sechseläuteplatz (Bellevue).

  • Children's parade: April 17, 2016: starting at 2.30 pm at the Bürkliplatz
  • Parade of the Guilds, riders and burning of the Böögg: April 18, 2016 at 6pm.

Route of the Guilds

route of the Guilds to the boogie man in Zürich
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Open Air Voting

Open air voting in Appenzell

Where: Appenzell (capital of Appenzell Innerhoden)

When: Last Sunday in April (yearly event)

This is the oldest form of direct democracy. Eligible voters gather on the main square of the town to vote on laws and decide on expenditures. Everyone is allowed to debate a question and voting is done by raising hands.

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Lavaux Wine Fest / Epesses nouveau en fête

Lavaux Wine Fest in Epesses

Where: Epesses (Canton Vaud)

When: 30 April 2016

Wine testing sessions, winegrower's lunch with "saucisson vaudois" (special sausage). Free wine tasting (you must be 18 years of age). All day activities from helicopter round trips over the vineyards to a ride on the Lavaux Express through the vineyards, filling up your own wine bottles, Uncle Paul's Fondue and workshops. Each of this actives are separately priced but there's also a package available that includes tasting as much wine as you want, typical winegrower's lunch, 1 "Pot Vaudois", cheese for desert and a wine glass as a souvenir.

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May

Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

More

Cheese Festival

Cheese Festival in Switzerland

Where: Gruyères (Canton Fribourg)

When: 01.05.2016

All day market festival on the cobbled main street in the medieval castle town of Gruyères.

From 10am to 6pm

Distances to Gruyères by train

  • From Montreux (Golden Pass line): 1 hour and 17 minutes via Montbovon;
  • From Lausanne: 1 hour and 17 minutes via Romont and Bulle;
  • From Bern: 1 hour and 25 minutes
  • From Interlaken: Just under 3 hours via Zweisimmen and Montbovon (Golden Pass Line) or 2 hours and 30 to 54 minutes via Bern;
  • From Thun: Just under 2 hours via Bern, Fribourg and Bulle;
  • From Zürich: 2 hours 27 minutes via Fribourg and Bulle.

Traditional Ascension Day Procession

Ascension Day procession in Beromünster, Switzerland

Where: Beromünster (Canton Lucerne)

When: 05. May 2016

The Ascension Day in Beromünster is a religious celebration that starts early in the morning. Costumed riders on horseback circle a field, followed by a large group of spectators. Early afternoon: solemn festivities with priests, church council, cross- and flag-bearer, musicians and singers in colourful uniforms and costumes.

The pilgrim route has remained unchanged the last five centuries. The 18 km-long pilgrimage route leads over softly rising hills. The wide open landscape is dominated by meadows and fields. The road passes through forests, hamlets and farms. The procession - approx. 150 riders in colorful uniforms - begins early morning. The priest, cross- and flag-bearer, councils, singers and musicians are all on horseback including the cavalry. Pilgrims join them or wait along the way. Thousands of believers, visitors and viewers experience the return of the procession and the grand finale early afternoon in the festively decorated village of Beromünster where the impressive ceremony ends.

Program:

  • 05:30am: Start of the procession in front of the St. Stephan church;
  • 05:45am: Short sermon in the castle above Beromünster;
  • 07:00am: Sermon
  • 07:45am: Passing the honour wreath to the Holy of Holies in Hasenhusen with speech and blessing, then silent ride to to Rickenbach;
  • 08:00am: Entry in Rickenbach and mass in the parish church with sermon;
  • 11:15am: Solemn blessing in Rickenbach and ride off the procession;
  • 12:00: Blessing of the horses in Seeblen;
  • 01:00pm: Gospel and blessing in the Wendelin's Chapel in Witwil;
  • 02:00pm: Ride off at the Moos chapel;
  • 02:15pm: Ceremonial entry;
  • 02:55pm: The bells of the Abbey church invite to vesper;
  • 03:00pm: Church vesper and depicting the Ascension Day.

Distances to Beromünster by public transport:

  • From Lucerne: 43 minutes by bus;
  • From Zürich: approx. 1 hour and 18 to 43 minutes by train and bus;
  • From Bern: approx. 1 hour and 50 minutes;
  • From Interlaken: approx. 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Landsgemeinde - Open Air Voting

Open air voting in Glarus, Switzerland

Where: Glarus (capital of the Canton Glarus)

When: Yearly event on the first Sunday in May

One of the two last places where the oldest form of direct democracy is still enforced in the open.

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Maibär Festival

Maibaer festival in Bad Ragaz

Where: Bad Ragaz (St. Gallen)

When: Yearly event on the first Sunday in May

The Maibär parade has become a fixture in the "Bad Ragaz" event calendar. They chase away the winter spirits, welcome spring and draw quite a crowd, depending on the weather.

Start at 1:30pm

How to get to the Wellness Resort Bad Ragaz

  • From Zürich by train in just over one hour
  • From Chur by train in 15 minutes

Nearby attraction: Heidi's Home

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Crowning of the May Queen and May King - A children's festival

spring festival in Begnins, Switzerland

Where: Begnins (Canton Vaud)

When: Usually beginning of May, but do contact the Nyon Tourism Office for the exact date

The "Fête du printemps" is a ancient traditional spring festival. It has a bit changed over the years. In earlier times it started on Saturday morning when children walked from door to door, singing songs and gathering eggs, flour and sugar to back goodies for the Sunday feast. What has reminded the same is the parade and the party on Sunday. Two children aged 7 - chosen by draw lots - will be crowned Spring Queen and Spring King. They then lead the parade through the village. It's a fun party for children with games, food, plays and music.

Begnins lies above Lake Geneva not far from the city of Nyon.

Distances to Begnins by public transport

  • From Nyon: 23 minutes by bus;
  • From Lausanne: 43 minutes by train and bus;
  • From Geneva: 38/43 minutes by train and bus.

Mammoth Soapbox Competition (Mammut Flossrennen)

Mammoth Soapbox competition in Bischoffszell

Where: Degenau to Bischoffszell and Kradolf (Canton Thurgau)

When: 08.05.2016 (alternative date: 22.05.2016)

The Mammoth Soapbox competition takes place on the rivers Sitter and Thur over a stretch of 12 km (7.5 miles). It starts in Degenau and ends in Kradolf. The colourful spectacle attracts approx. 30'000 spectators.

The race usually takes place on Mother's day, but if the weather does not cooperate it is postponed. Please contact the organizers to check dates.

Tip: rent a bike and follow the race along the rivers through the lush green landscape.

Distances to Bischofszell by public transport

  • From St.Gallen: 26 minutes by S5 (train);
  • From Romanshorn (Lake Constance): 31 minutes;
  • From Zürich: 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Route of the Mammoth Soapbox competition in Bischoffszell

Wyberschiesset

Wyberschiesset - a unique shooting competition where women participate

Where: Schüpfheim - Biosphere Entlebuch (Canton Lucerne)

When: Mid May 2018 (every three years)

The historic "Amts- and Wyberschiesset" takes place every three years, either in Schüpfheim, Entlebuch or Eschholzmatt (close to Lucerne). As the name implies, the event is dedicated to women shooters which make up about half of the participants (a bit over 1000 shooters). Documents give evidence that women and girls partake actively in this unique shooting event since 1579.

The shooting operation lasts four days. The highlight marks a feast with parades and evening entertainment during which the Queen and King are announced - usually one week after Mother's Day.

The exact date of the event will be announced their website.

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International Street Artists Festival

Festival Artisti di Strada - street festival in Ascona

Where: Ascona (Canton Ticino)

When: End of May, 2016 (exact date will be announced)

Pantomimes, stage plays, dance performers, jugglers, tightrope walkers, fire eaters, musicians and clowns attract spectators during four days on the streets of the lakeside town of Ascona on Lago Maggiore.

The performances are free but a donation is expected.

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Open Wine Cellars / Caves Ouvertes Vaudoises

Open Caves - wine tasting in Switzerland

Where: Wine cellars in Bex, Ollon, Aigle, Villeneuve, Montreux, Vevey, Chexbres, Cully, Lutry, Grandvaux, Morges, Rolle, Gland, Yverdon-les-Bains (Canton Vaud)

When: Last weekend in May, 2016 (exact date will be announced)

More than 300 cellars throughout the Canton Vaud open their doors on this May weekend to sample their wines, learn about the art of viticulture and simply enjoy the beautiful surrounding and a walk through the vineyards.

A ticket of CHF 15 gives you free access including a glass of "caves ouvertes" wine.

Free shuttles from the train stations to the vineyards.

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June

Prätti-Ziller Folk Music Fest

Prätti-Ziller fest, one of Switzerland's largest folk music festivals

Where: Seewis in the Prättigau Valley (Graubünden)

When: 03. - 04.06.2016

The people from the Prättigau Valley and the Tyroleans (Tyrol, a state of Austria) maintain close ties, and the friendship between these two valleys is reflected in the mood at the largest summer folk music festival in Graubünden. Thousands of fans make a pilgrimage to the beautiful mountain village of Seewis to get carried away by the sounds of Austrian and Swiss folk music. Be prepared for a crowd. Great atmosphere with music, dance, songs and culinary delicacies from both, the Zillertal and the Präättigau.

Friday night June 3rd: Gala night, starting at 7:30pm
Saturday all day party with authentic folk music, charming ballade's and groovy dance music.

Distances to Seewis by public transport:

  • From Zürich: approx. 1 hour and 50 minutes;
  • From Lucerne: approx. 2 hours and 50 minutes;
  • From Chur (Graubünden's capital): approx. 40 minutes
  • From Landquart: approx. 30 minutes;
  • From Davos: approx. 40 minutes.

Gotthelf Märit (historic farmers market)

Sumiswald historical Swiss farmers market

Where: Sumiswald

When: 11 June 2016

The nostalgic Sumiswald farmers market attracts every year a large audience. The traders wear traditional clothing as they did at the time of Jeremias Gotthelf (Swiss novelist, born 1797) and a large number of visitors emulate them. Old crafts are demonstrated, stands filled with regional products and folklore performances pop up here and there. The streets are filled with spectators and the atmosphere is vivid - In short: it is a lively market and most definitely worth a visit.

Distances to Sumiswald with public transport:

  • From Bern: 55 minutes;
  • From Thun: approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on the connection;
  • From Interlaken: 1 hour 40 to just over 2 hours, depending on the connection;
  • From Lucerne: 1 hour 23 minutes;
  • From Zürich: approx. 1 hour 50 minutes.
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Largest Yodel fest in Switzerland - "Eidgenössisches Jodelfest"

Federal Yodel Fest in Switzerland

Where: Brig-Glis (Canton Valais)

When: 22 - 25 June 2017 (every three years)

The 4-day "Federal Yodel Fest" is the largest folklore event in Switzerland. Yodel groups perform and compete in their festive costumes. Homesick Swiss visit to celebrate their heritage and even international yodel groups attend.


Meeting of the Alphorns (Seealpsee Alphorntreffen)

Alphorn festival on Seealpsee

Where: Seealpsee (Canton Appenzell)

When: 26 June 2016 (in case of bad weather one week later)

The largest and most beautiful echo in the Alpstein region

Over 80 Alphorn players from Switzerland, Germany, and Liechtenstein meet in the pristine alpine setting on the idyllic Seealpsee (Seealp Lake) to give their best.

The event starts off with a church service in the small lakeside chapel, framed by a yodel choir and Alphorn music.

Start: 10am

There are two hotels ("Gasthaus Forelle" and "Gasthaus Seealpsee") on Seealpsee that cater to the hungry and thirsty. You also could spend the night there and enjoy a memorable sunset and sunrise on this romantic lake.

How to reach Seealpsee:

  • By train to Wasserauen (Canton Appenzell) and from there by foot in about 50 minutes - a lovely hike uphill;
  • You also can enjoy Alphorn blowers in the mountain huts of Ebenalp and Aescher, reachable by cable car from Wasserauen.

Distances to Wasserauen by train:

  • From Zürich: Just over two hours by train;
  • From St. Gallen: approximately on hour;
  • From Appenzell: 11 minutes.

Info: In case of rain the event will be postponed to one week later.
Contact the organizer by email or call 079 564 02 25


Alpine Ascent Engstligenalp - Alpaufzug

Alpine ascent Adelboden to Engstligenalp

Where: Adelboden to Engstligenalp (Bernese Oberland)

When: Mid to End of June 2016 (usually around June 20)

Farmers bring their cattle to higher alpine elevations in summer, where they produce a tasty cheese made of raw milk as well as butter. The cattle procession from Adelboden to Engstligenalp attracts quite a few onlookers.

Approximately 500 animals climb the steep slope up to Engstligenalp. They have to overcome 600 metres in height on a short stretch. A strenuous climb along a rock face on a narrow path over rocks, steps and past a waterfall brings them up to a plateau where they spend about three months each summer. It's amazing how 'civilized' they behave and not push each other over the edge. Of course, it also needs knowledgeable volunteers who understand their job. In the last 20 years, all animals made it unharmed to the top.

Start: 5:30am

  • If you rather wait for the cows on Engstligenalp (and enjoy the sunrise) instead of joining them by climbing up the steep hill, you can take the gondola: starts running at 5am.
  • Have lunch on Engstligenalp before you return to Adelboden. Kombi tickets gondola and brunch available.

Distances to Adelboden by public transport (train and bus):

  • From Interlaken: 1 hour 30 minutes;
  • From Thun: just over 1 hour;
  • From Bern: 1 hour 24 minutes;
  • From Lucerne: approximately 3 hours;
  • From Zürich: 2 hours and 31 minutes.

July

Rosen Fest on Lake Lucerne

Rosenfest in Weggis on Lake Lucerne

Where: Weggis (Canton Lucerne)

When: 08 - 10 July, 2016

A huge summer party in Weggis on the shores of the Vierwaldstättersee (Lake Lucerne). It started over 80 years ago and still is going strong. Music, dance, fireworks, parades and the election of the Queen of Roses.

  • Saturday night: crowning of the Rosen Princess after the fireworks
  • Lunapark: all weekend children's activities
  • Market: all weekend

Distances to Weggis by public transport:

  • From Lucerne: by boat 40 to 50 minutes; by train 45 minutes;
  • From Zürich: approx. 1 hour and 16 minutes;

Jazz Days / Jazz Tage Lenk

Where: Lenk in the Simmen valley (Bernese Oberland)

When: 08 - 17 July, 2106

The Jazz Days in Lenk enthuse the audience since 1989, and enliven the holiday resort at the foot of Mount Wildstrubel each July for ten days. The festival focuses on traditional New Orleans and Dixieland style jazz, but is complemented by swing, blues, soul and funk.

Venues

  • Evening concerts are held on the main stage in the festival tent on Kronplatz. Gala dinner shows, Apéro concerts and Matinées in various hotels and restaurants;
  • Tickets for the Jazz train Lenk - Gstaad - Lenk are sold at the train station in Lenk.

Lenk is a short train ride from Zweisimmen (18 minutes), Interlaken (1 hour and 50 minutes) and Bern (1 hour and 50 minutes).

A short video by my dear friend Jürg.

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Wrestling and Alpine Fest on Mount Rigi (Rigi Schwinget)

Where: Rigi Staffel (Canton Lucerne)

When: 10 July 2016

All day event: 8:30am to 4:30pm

The "Wrestling and Alpine Fest" on Mount Rigi high above Lake Lucerne was already mentioned in the 16th century and therefore makes it one of the oldest such events in Switzerland.

It's a traditional event where wrestlers show their skill, alpine famers and herdsmen, alphorn blowers, flag throwers, yodelers and whip crackers celebrate their tradition, accompanied by folklore music.

"Rigi Staffel" is reachable from Vitznau, Weggis and Arth Goldau.

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Davos Sounds Good - The "New Orleans Jazzfestival of the Alps"

The Alpine New Orleans Jassfest in Davos

Where: Klosters, Davos to Bergün (Canton Graubünden)

When: 11 - 17 July, 2016

12 bands and 75 concerts. Mardi Gras Party, Jazz Walk, Dinner dance, Jazz train to Bergün, Street parade, Jazz BBQ, and more. Outdoor and indoor venues in various locations.

Distances to Davos by public transport:

  • From Chur: 1 hour and 20 minutes;
  • From ST. Moritz: 1 hour and 50 minutes;
  • From Zürich: 2 hours 20 minutes;
  • From Lucerne: 3 hours and 15 minutes;
  • From Bern: 3 hours 30 minutes;
  • From Basel 3 hours 20 minutes;
  • From St. Gallen: 2 hours 30 minutes;
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Les Médiévales - A Medieval Festival

Where: St. Ursanne (Canton Jura)

When: 10 - 12 July, 2016 (every year on the second weekend in July)

  • Friday: Opens at 6pm - entertainment throughout town;
  • Saturday: 9am to midnight. Opening ceremony at 10am;
  • Sunday: 9am to 5pm.

The monastery town of St. Ursanne with its cobbled streets and squares and houses that date back to medieval times offers the perfect backdrop for this medieval festival. The festival "Les Médiévales" takes place every year on the second weekend in July.

Distances to St. Ursanne by public transport:

  • From Bern: 1 hour 30 minutes;
  • From Interlaken: 2 hours 40 minutes;
  • From Lausanne: 1 hour 54 minutes;
  • From Basel: Just over one hour;
  • From Zürich: just over 2 hours;
  • From Lucerne: 2 hours 45 minutes.

Summer Musical on the Lake - Thunerseespiele

Verbier Festival in Switzerland

Where: Thun - Outdoor stage (Bernese Oberland)

When: 13 July to 27 August, 2016

What: Sugar

Musical Productions on the shores of Lake Thun. Open Air Stage with a magnificent view to Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Distances to Thun by public transport:

  • From Bern: 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the train you catch;
  • From Interlaken: 20 minutes;
  • From Lausanne: 1 hour 30 minutes;
  • From Zürich: 1 hour 20 minutes;
  • From Lucerne: between 1 hour 25 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the route you take;
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Gurten Festival Bern

Where: On Bern's house mountain, the Gurten

When: 14 - 16 July, 2016

Switzerland's largest and iconic open air festival. An event that no real "Berner" misses. International Music groups.

Impressions with the Swiss Music Group "Patent Ochsner".

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Menuhin Festival

Khatia & Gvantsa Buniatishvili at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival

Where: Gstaad, Bernese Oberland

When: 16 July - 5 September, 2015

One of the very best classic music festivals worldwide.

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Alpstobete Ebenalp

Ebenalp in the Appenzell Alps

Where: Gasthaus Ebenalp (Appenzell)

When: 18 July 2015 (yearly event)

Can you pronounce that? All it means is that this is a fabulous traditional mountain fest with folklore music, Jazz, Dixie and dance in a stunning location with views to the Alpstein massif, 1644 metre above sea level (5400 ft.).

Reachable by Cable Car from Wasserauen.

Saturday: starting at 7:30pm with music and dance;
Sunday: all day entertaining, starting at 11am.

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Paléo Festival Nyon

Paleo Open Air festival in Nyon, Switzerland

Where: Nyon (Canton Vaud)

When: 19 - 24 July, 2016

Enjoy more than 250 concerts on this annual rock concert, the largest such event in Switzerland. Make sure you get a ticket well in advance.

Nyon lies approximately halfway between Geneva and Lausanne.

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Verbier Festival

Verbier Festival in Switzerland

Where: Verbier (Canton Valais)

When: 22 July - 7 August, 2016

Days filled with classical music, played by world-renowned artists. A feast of sound in a spectacular setting. Considered one of the most important European classical festivals.

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Street Artist Festival

Juggler Festival in Adelboden

Where: Adelboden (Bernese Oberland)

When: Mid July

Juggler, comedy, visual arts, music and barrel organ fest in Adelboden.

Starting at 1pm

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International Alphorn Festival

International Alphorn Festival in Nendaz, Switzerland

Where: Nendaz (Canton Valais)

When: 22 - 24 July, 2016

Grand traditional Alphorn competition: concerts, performances by folk groups, traditional dances - a true festival devoted to the tradition and Swiss folklore.

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Winegrowers Festival / Fête des Vignerons

One of the largest wine festivals in the World - Vevey, Switzerland

Where: Vevey (Canton Vaud)

When: 26 July - 13 August, 2019 (only every 20 years)

It's said to be the World's most important and impressive wine festival. The celebration of centuries old wine making traditions in the Lavaux vineyards is an unforgettable spectacle that takes place in the medieval city of Vevey. It takes the "Brotherhood of Wine growers" about five years to organize the event with approx. 3000 participants.

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National Costume Festival

National Costume Fest on Mount Männlichen in the Jungfrau Region

Where: Mount Männlichen (Jungfrau Region, Bernese Oberland)

When: 26 July 2015 (yearly event)

Authentic and traditional costume fest amidst an impressive Alpine scenery. A uniquely Swiss festival. Starting at 11am.

You reach the Männlichen by aerial cable way from Wengen or Gondola from Grindelwald.

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Brünig Schwinget (Swiss Wrestling competition)

Swiss Wrestling on Brünig-Hasliberg

Where: Brünig-Hasliberg (Canton Bern)

When: 31 July 2016 (or 07 August 2016 - depending on the weather)

The traditional Swiss wrestling event has taken place since 1893 and is very popular. Approximately 120 Wrestler (Schwinger) will challenge each other.

Starting at 8 am in the Brünig Arena in Brünig-Hasliberg (approx. 5 minutes by foot from the train station).

Admission: Seats CHF 35 (Ticket sale starts January 1, 2016) - Standing space CHF 20 (come early to get one of the 1000 standing places).

From Unterbäch: Post busses between 6 am and 8 am to the Arena
From Lungern/Giswil/Lucerne as well as from Interlaken Ost/Meiringen: Extra trains.

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Rhine Falls Festival

Large firework on the Rhine Falls in Neuhausen/Schaffhausen

Where: Rhine Falls, Neuhausen (Canton Schaffhausen)

When: 31 July 2016 (yearly event)

The Rhine falls, Europe's largest waterfall, provides a dramatic backdrop for this giant firework festival.

Start: 9.45 pm

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Big Bang Festival on the Lake (Bielerseefest)

Big Bank fireworks in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland

Where: Biel/Bienne (Canton Bern)

When: Always on July 31st (yearly event for over 20 years)

Fireworks, live music, and good food. Approx. 70'000 spectators attend this festival of fireworks.

5pm to 2:30am; Fireworks start at 10:30pm

Biel is only a 30 minute train ride from Bern.

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August

Swiss National Day

National day celebrations on August 1st in Switzerland

Where: All over Switzerland

When: August 1 (yearly event)

The best way to see the fireworks and bonfires, with which the Swiss celebrate their National Day, is by taking a boat trip on one of the larger lakes. It is a day celebrated in all communities: parades, fireworks, bonfires and barbecues.

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Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

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Menuhin Festival

Khatia & Gvantsa Buniatishvili at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival

Where: Gstaad, Bernese Oberland

When: 16 July - 5 September, 2015

One of the very best classical festivals worldwide.

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Summer Musical on the Lake - Thunerseespiele

Verbier Festival in Switzerland

Where: Thun - Outdoor stage (Bernese Oberland)

When: 13 July to 27 August, 2016

What: Sugar

Musical Productions on the shores of Lake Thun. Open Air Stage with a magnificent view to Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Distances to Thun by public transport:

  • From Bern: 20 minutes to 40 minutes, depending on the train you catch;
  • From Interlaken: 20 minutes;
  • From Lausanne: 1 hour 30 minutes;
  • From Zürich: 1 hour 20 minutes;
  • From Lucerne: between 1 hour 25 minutes and 2 hours, depending on the route you take;
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International Film Festival Locarno

International Film Festival in Locarno, Switzerland

Where: Locarno (Canton Ticino)

When: 3 - 13 August 2016

The small town Locarno in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland is host to the International Film Festival for 11 days each August. This is a magnet for over 160'000 film fans and professionals. The top prize is the Golden Leopard.

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Apricot Festival

Apricot festival in Saxon, Switzerland

Where: Saxon (Canton Valais)

When: 6 - 7 August 2016 (every two years)

The Canton Valais is Switzerland's largest apricot producing region and celebrates the rich harvest with a thank giving festival every two years. Large market with over 80 stalls, exhibitions, all kinds of products made of apricots, concerts and performances.

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Ländlerchilbi (Folk music fest)

Folk music open air in St. Antönien

Where: Partnun, St. Antönien (Graubünden)

When: 8 - 9 August 2015

The impressive scenery of the Rätikon range provides an adequate backdrop for this unique, intimate folk music fest. Admission.

  • Saturday night: Party in the barn
  • Sunday: All day Folk music open air fest

Shuttle bus service every 30 minutes from St. Antönien to the fest ground.

Approx. 2 hours by train and bus from Zürich.

Why not stay for the night in the village "left behind the moon" - St. Antönien - or even in one of the cozy rooms in Partnun?

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Winegrowers Festival / Fête des Vignerons

One of the largest wine festivals in the World - Vevey, Switzerland

Where: Vevey (Canton Vaud)

When: 26 July - 13 August, 2019 (only every 20 years)

It's said to be the World's most important and impressive wine festival. The celebration of centuries old wine making traditions in the Lavaux vineyards is an unforgettable spectacle that takes place in the medieval city of Vevey. It takes the "Brotherhood of Wine growers" about five years to organize the event with approx. 3000 participants.

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Thunfest

Where: Thun (Bernese Oberland)

When: 11 - 14 August, 2016

Street fest with various artists. From blues to Irish folk, rock, pop. Street market.
Old town center Bälliz, Thun.

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Alpine Festival (Älpler Wunschkonzert)

Aelplerwunschkonzert on Urnerboden

Where: Urnerboden (Canton Uri)

When: 11 August 2015 (yearly event for over 20 years)

The "Wunschkonzert" is a weekly radio program that plays music on request. Once a year it's performed as an open air and and fest-tent alpine festival on Urnerboden, where dairymen, -women, alpine farmers and friends of the traditional alpine music meet on the largest Alp in Switzerland. More than 1000 cows chomp their way through the valley that is wedged between an impressive mountain scenery. This is a unique event and it can't get anymore authentic.

Start: 1pm until dawn

How to get there

Folklore Festival

Where: Zermatt

When: Every year on the second Sunday in August

An afternoon of Swiss folklore - yodel, music, and 1200 dancers entertain spectators on the fairground with their performances. Colourful parade.


Swiss Food Festival

Food Festival in Zermatt

Where: Zermatt (Canton Valais)

When: 12 - 14 August, 2016

Three days of culinary delights, prepared by GaultMillau and Michelin star chefs. Venues are various restaurants and street events. Special offer: Sunday breakfast in a Gondola with breathtaking views to the Matterhorn.

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Swiss Hornussen Fest

Hornussen, a typical Swiss sport

Where: Stalden i.E. (Canton Bern)

When: 13 - 14 August 2016 - National Hornussen Fest
and 20 - 21 August 2016 - Emmentaler Hornussen fest

Hornussen is a uniquely Swiss sport. Approximately 1300 active players will compete at the "National Hornussen fest" and 1500 at the "Emmentaler Hornussen fest". Impressions below.

  • How to get there: Stalden i.E. (in the Emmental) is about 25 minutes by train from Bern, 1 hour and 40 minutes from Lucerne, and 1 hour and 40 minutes from Zürich.

Schwägalp Schwinget

Traditional Swiss Wrestling content - called schwingen

Where: Schwägalp in the Toggenburg (Canton St. Gallen)

When: 14 - 21 August 2016

The "Schwinget" is the traditional Swiss way of wrestling. Beautiful natural arena at the foot of Mount Säntis amidst the lovely Appenzell and Toggenburg mountains. Folklore entertainment from music to yodeling, flag throwing and more.

This event takes place over the course of a week. Main event Sunday, 21 August.

  • How to get there: by train and bus via Wattwil and Nesslau (Toggenburg)or via Urnäsch (Canton Appenzell).
Imopressions

Triftalp Alpine Fest (Älplerfest Triftalp)

Alpine fest on Triftalp

Where: On Triftalp above Saas-Grund

When: 15 August 2015 (postponed to 23 August 2015)

Celebrating authentic and uniquely Swiss traditions, including cow fights, in a gorgeous Alpine setting. Location: Café Triftalp - 2021 metres above sea level / 6630 feet.

Start: 11am with a yodeler mass.

  • How to get there: Gondola from Saas-Grund. Get off at the stop Trift and follow the forest road uphill to the bridge, turn right on the trail. Past the cozy Alpine huts and the Trift Chapel to Café Triftalp - about a 20 minute hike.

Do contact the tourism office in Saas-Fee before you go to check if the event hasn't been postponed due to bad weather conditions.


Churer Fest

Alpine beard festival in Chur

Where: Chur (The capital of Graubünden)

When: 19 - 21 August 2016

This is the largest outdoor summer fest in the capital of Graubünden - or in North Eastern Switzerland for that matter. A unique moment: Approximately 60 hairy men compete in an "alpine beauty contest".

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Art Market

Art festival Zofingen

Where: Zofingen (Canton Aargau)

When: 20 August 2016

Over 100 local artists present their works of art in an outdoor exhibition with market atmosphere in the charming and beautiful medieval town of Zofingen.

All day event: 9am to 6pm.

  • How to reach Zofingen: by train from Bern in 30 to 40 minutes; from Zürich in 50 minutes; from Lucerne in just over 30 minutes.
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Unspunnenfest

Unspunnenfest in Interlaken - only every 12 years

Where: Interlaken

When: 26 August - 3 September, 2017 (every 12 years)

The history of Unspunnen dates back to the 13th century. The Unspunnenfest itself started 1805 as a cow herder's festival. Today, it is the largest traditional festival in Switzerland with stone throwing competitions, Schwingen - a type of Swiss wrestling - , dance, yodel, music and more.

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Street Parade

Where: Zürich

When: 29 August 2015

The streets in Zürich will vibrate!

1pm until midnight

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September

Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

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Menuhin Festival

Khatia & Gvantsa Buniatishvili at the Gstaad Menuhin Festival

Where: Gstaad, Bernese Oberland

When: 16 July - 5 September, 2015

One of the very best classical festivals worldwide.

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Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Lucerne
Where: Lucerne When: 3 - 19 September, 2015

Fest tent. Admission. You have to be 18.
Call to make reservations for a table +41 (0) 41 367 61 61.

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VINEA - Wine Fest

Vinea Wine fair in Sierre, Canton Valais

Where: Sierre (Canton Valais)

When: 4 - 5 September, 2015

The canton Valais is the largest wine growing region in Switzerland, and the VINEA Wine Fest is their largest wine fair.

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Wii-Grill Fäscht - Wine Fest

Where: Visp (Canton Valais)

When: 3 September, 2016 (annual event on the first Saturday in September)

This is more a culinary hiking tour than a festival. The hike leads from Visp to Oberstalden through Europe's highest Vineyard - the Heida - where the Pearl of Alpine Wine is produced.

The name of the fest is ambiguous. "Wii-Grill Fäscht" is Swiss German and literally translated means "Wine and Grilling Fest". Yes there is wine and there's barbecued food. However, the "Wii-Grill" is actually an insect. This insect is very important and useful in the vineyard since it lives on insect parasites. You will learn about it and more on the hike through the vineyard. And of course, there's lots to eat and drink and there's music too :-)!

The culinary walking tour costs CHF 95. In the price included are: Complete 6-course dinner including soft drinks and at least 12 different wines, bus transfer, and a memory glass. Fantastic atmosphere guaranteed.

Limited space. Already sold out for 2016. If you want to attend in 2017 make early reservations or phone +41 (0)27 948 00 48. Tip: If you are a group of people and would like to get to know the Heida vineyards, learn about the wine making and stories of the Heida, then contact the Tourism office in Vispterminen. They are happy to organize a guided tour for you (same link just above)!


Professional World Logging Championship

Wood carving festival in Brienz, Switzerland

Where: Brienz (Bernese Oberland)

When: 11 - 14 September, 2015

What better place than Brienz, Switzerland's wood carving village, to host the World Logging Championships.

30 Nations and 4'000 to 5'000 spectators.

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Vineyard hike

Where: From Sierre to Salgesch (Canton Valais)

When: 12 September, 2015 (yearly event)

A leisurely 8 km hike through the vineyards where approx. 40 wine growers offer wine for tasting and local specialties.

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Gemmi Sheep Procession

Gemmi Sheep Procession in Leukerbad

Where: Leukerbad (Canton Valais)

When: 13 September, 2015

The coming home of approx. 800 sheep from the Alpine pasture where they have spent their summer. It's quite a sight to see the sheep coming down the steep Gemmi path. Raclette, BBQ and music.

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Spiezer Märit (Fall Fair)

Fall fair and market in Spiez, Bernese Oberland

Where: Spiez (Bernese Oberland)

When:
13 September, 2015: Sunday parade
14 September, 2015: Monday market

Fall fair and parade on Switzerland's most beautiful bay.

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Breitling Air Show

Where: Sion (Canton Valais)

When: 15 - 17 September, 2017 (every six years)

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Sichlete (Farmers Harvest Fest)

Sichlete, a farmers festival in Bern

Where: Bern (our capital)

When: 14 September 2015

The legendary harvest fest "Sichlete" starts at 10am on the "Bundeshausplatz", the square in front of the federal building in Bern.

Bernese farmers bring life to the city with cows, sheep, pigs, goats, horses, market stalls and music.

The highlight is the parade that starts at 1.15pm at the National Equestrian Centre (Nationales Pferdezentrum) and ends at approximately 2pm on the "Bundeshausplatz".

3pm: The most beautiful cow will be crowned Miss Sichlete.


Alpine Descent (Alpabzug)

Alpine descent in Sumiswald, Canton Bern

Where: Sumiswald (Canton Bern)

When: Mid-September, 2016

Approx. 600 cows return from the Alpine Pasture of Lüderenalp to Sumiswald.

Start: 10am

  • How to reach Sumiswald: by train in approximately 50 minutes from Bern; 1 hour and 30 minutes from Lucerne, and 1 hour and 40 minutes from Zürich.

Before you go you might want to email Marianne to make sure the event takes place.

Impressions

Medieval Market

Medieval market on Castle Lenzburg, Switzerland

Where: Castle Lenzburg (Canton Aargau)

When: 18 - 20 September, 2015

Learn about the life in the middle ages in an authentic setting on Castle Lenzburg. Jesters, plays, music and dance will transport you back in time. Medieval delicacies from the kitchen and the Castle cellar are served in the courtyard.

  • How to reach Lenzburg: by train and bus from Zürich in just over 50 minutes; from Lucerne in 1 hour and 30 minutes; from Bern in 1 hour and 25 minutes.
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Chästeilet Justistal (Cheese dividing fest)

Cheese fest 'Chästeilet' in the Justisvalley, Bernese Oberland

Where: Justistal above Sigriswil near Thun (Bernese Oberland)

When: 18 September, 2015

Farmers receive the cheese that has been made while their cows have spent the summer on high alpine pastures in the Justistal (Justis Valley).

This traditional event takes place every year just before or after the day of Prayer and Repentance (3rd Sunday in September).

Starts: Approx. 10am

Catch a bus at the main square in Sigriswil or in Beatenberg. From the bus stop, you will have to walk for about 10 to 15 minutes the the fairgrounds.


Désalpes (Cattle Alpine Descents)

Alpine descent in La Fouly and Sembrancher, Switzerland

Where: La Fouly and Sembrancher (Canton Valais)

When: Mid-September, 2016

  • La Fouly: Alpine procession starting at 10am with approx. 250 decorated cows; 2pm Cow fights;
  • Sembrancher: 1:30pm cow procession.

Before you go, check by email if the event hasn't been postponed.


Alpine Cheese Fest (Alpkäsefest)

Cheese fest on Grosse Scheidegg above Grindelwald

Where: Grosse Scheidegg above Grindelwald (Bernese Oberland)

When: 19 September, 2015

Farmers and visitors meet on the Alpine Cheese Fest and spend a leisurely day together in a beautiful alpine setting on Grosse Scheidegg. The small barns that contain the cheese are decorated and open to visitors. You can buy Alpine Cheese right at the source and of course, enjoy all the other goodies served on this day or presented at the farm stands.

Starts at 10 am, rain or shine.

The "Grindelwald bus" brings visitors from Grindelwald in the Jungfrau region up to Grosse Scheidegg.


Farmers Market and Alpine Descent

Traditional alpine descent in the Canton Appenzell

Where: Urnäsch (Canton Appenzell)

When: 19 September, 2015

The coming home of the cows is celebrated with a large farmers market with over 30 stalls, food and music. Great for kids too since there's a pig race and pony riding.

The cows are expected anywhere between 10am and noon. Market until 4pm.


Fulehung (Lazy Dog Festival)

Fulehung Festival in Thun

Where: Thun (Bernese Oberland)

When: 20 - 22 September, 2015

Fulehung is Swiss German for "lazy dog". This fool plays a central role at the "Ausschiesset" - a yearly event dedicated to the cadets and meanwhile a large folk festival in Thun, with roots dating back to the 16th century. Old town center.

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Grape Harvest Festival (Fâte des Vendanges)

Grape Harvest Festival in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Where: Neuchâtel (Neuenburg)

When: 25 - 27 September, 2015

The Grape Harvest Festival takes off on Friday evening at 6pm with a parade. Saturday and Sunday: starts at 9am. It's practically partying all the way through until midnight on Sunday.

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Cattle Alpine Descent (Alpabfahrt)

Alpine descent in Schüpfheim, Switzerland

Where: Schüpfheim in the Entlebuch (Canton Lucerne)

When: 26 September, 2015

Coming home of the Cows from the Alpine Pasture in Schüpfheim - one of the largest cattle drives in Switzerland.

Market starts at 10am; Grand entry starts around 11am.

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Désalpe in Charmey (Alpine Descent)

Alpine descent in Charmey, Switzerland

Where: Charmey (Canton Fribourg)

When: 26 September, 2016

The homecoming of cows after they have spent a few month high up in Alpine pasture. Starting at 9.30am.

Charmey is reached by train and bus from Gruyères in 1 hour and 15 minutes.


Brächätä (Historic Farmers Market)

Brächätä - a cultural festival in Zäziwil

Where: Zäziwil (Canton Bern)

When: 30 September, 2015

If you want to know how the Swiss lived and worked in the times of Jeremias Gotthelf (beloved Swiss novelist and poet, 1797 - 1854), and want to get up close with the culture of the Emmental (where the "Emmentaler", known as Swiss Cheese to the rest of the World, is produced), then this is a cultural festival not to miss.

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October

Cow Fighting Events

Cow fighting in Vispterminen, Switzerland

Where: Cow Fighting in different towns and villages in the Canton of Valais

When: March, April, May and August, September, October (each year)

A traditional cow-to-cow fight - humans are only involved to make sure no blood is shed :-)

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The Autumn Festival

Atmosheric fall fair in Lugano, Switzerland

Where: Lugano (Canton Ticino)

When: 2 - 4 October, 2015

Typical Ticino flair: The celebration of the end of summer with an outdoor fair, delicious food, dance, music, artists and entertainers.

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Désalpe (Alpine descent)

Coming home of the cows in Albeuve, Switzerland

Where: Albeuve (Canton Fribourg)

When: 3 October, 2015

Celebration of the coming home of the cows from the Alpine pastures, including the annual fall fair.

Albeuve is reached by train in just over one hour from the city of Fribourg via Bulle, and in 13 minutes from Gruyères.

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Chestnut and Autumn Festival

Maronatt - celebrating the chestnut in Ascona

Where: Ascona (Canton Ticino)

When: 3 and 10 October, 2015 (rain or shine)

The Maronatt (Chestnut roasting men) are roasting about 2000 kg Chestnuts over open fire during the "Sagra delle castagne e festa d'autunno" in the picturesque town of Ascona on Lago Maggiore. There are many more products made of chestnut offered during this colourful fall festival.

10 am to 6pm.

Bus #1 from Locarno to Ascona.

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Cheese Festival

Cheese fest (Käsefest) Schwägalp in the Canton of Appenzell, Switzerland

Where: Schwägalp (Canton Appenzell)

When: 3 - 4 October, 2015

Celebrate the end of summer and experience typical Appenzell music while sampling cheese delicacies. Fest tent next to the "Alpschaukäserei Schwägalp".

Both days 10am to 8pm.

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Lucerne Fall Fair

Fall fair in Lucerne, Switzerland

Where: Lucerne

When: 3 - 18 October, 2015

Approx. 100 wooden stalls with a wide range of products. On the "Inselpark" on the Lake in front of the train station and KKL.

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Chestnut Festival

Chestnut festival in Soglio

Where: Bregaglia Valley (Canton Graubünden)

When: 3 - 18 October, 2015

The chestnut calls the valley of Bregaglia home and is celebrated during two weeks each October.

Highlights:
  • 4.10.: Culinary hiking excursion starting at 9:30am, ending 5:30pm. Bring hiking boots and rain gear. CHF 73 (included are guide, apero, food , drinks, tasting,and bus ticket Vicosoprano to Soglio). If you want to participate, contact the Tourism Office.
  • 11.10.: Chestnut Festival in Castasegna or Bondo, starting at 10am.

There are a variety of events each day, but some of them are only in German or Italian. If you are staying in the area during that time (beautful for hiking and exploring the Bregaglia Valley and the Engadin), then contact the Tourism Office for information.

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Alpine Cheese and "Schabziger" Market

Alpine cheese and fall festival in Elm, Switzerland

Where: Elm (Canton Glarus)

When: 4 October, 2015 (always on the first Sunday in October)

A colourful Alpine festival, cheese and "Zigerstöckli" market, the latter a Glarus specialty produced only in this region. Cattle drive.

Starting at 8am with an alpine breakfast. Alpine descent: 2:30pm.

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AlpKultur Festival

A week long celebration of alpine culture in Lenk, Switzerland

Where: Lenk in the Simmen Valley (Bernese Oberland)

When: 4 - 17 October, 2015

A week long celebration of Alpine Culture.

Hightlights:
  • 10 October: Alpine fest with cattle drive;
  • 11 October: Alpine brunch and market;
  • 17 October: Hornussen tournament
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Désalpe (Alpine descent)

Fall celebrations in the Canton Jura, Switzerland

Where: Le Boéchet (Canton Jura)

When: 10 October, 2016

The celebration of the home-coming of the cows from the alpine pasture. Food, fun and Entertainment.

Starting at 10am.

Le Boéchet can be reached by train from Biel/Bienne in one hour, and from La Chaux-de-Fonds in 18 minutes.

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Prättigauer Alp Spektakel

Celebration of alpine culture in Seewis, Switzerland

Where: Seewis (Graubünden)

When: 10 - 11 October, 2015

The celebration of Alpine culture: cattle drive, life music, alpine specialities and good food in the Prättigau village of Seewis.

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Cheese and Fall Fest

Cheese and fall fest in Bellinzona, Switzerland

Where: Bellinzona (Canton Ticino)

When: 10 - 11 October, 2015 (postpone date in case of bad weather: 16 - 18 October)

Cheese delicacies (Cows, goats and sheep) produced during the alpine summer throughout the canton Ticino are presented on market stands during the three-day fall fair in the old town of Bellinzona, the capital of the Canton Ticino. Sample lots of local specialties such as wine, cheese, honey, breads, sweets, chestnuts and more.

The "Rassegna d’autunno" is a colourful fall fest, and believe me, the Ticinesi know how to party.

  • Friday: starting at 4pm, ending at midnight;
  • Saturday: 10 am until midnight;
  • Sunday: 10 am until 2 pm
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Sheep Shearing Fest

Grape Harvest Festival in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Where: Savognin (Canton Graubünden)

When: 10 October, 2015

Celebrating the sheep: from sharing to wool and textiles. A fun festival for the whole family in a beautiful setting.

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Cheese Festival

Grape Harvest Festival in Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Where: Lucerne

When: 17 October 2015

The largest cheese market in Central Switzerland, including dairy show. And you can learn to milk a cow :-)

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Trüelete (Wine Fest)

Winefest Twann, Switzerland

Where: Twann

When: 22 - 25 October, 2015

The vintner town of Twann (on Lake Biel/Bienne) is one big party place, celebrating the grapes of the region.

Just 7 minutes by train from Biel/Bienne, and a little longer by boat.

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Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest in Winterthur, Switzerland

Where: Winterthur (Canton Zürich)

When: 22 October - 7 November, 2015

Reservation necessary.

Winterthur is only a half an hour train ride from Zürich.

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Cheese Festival

Cheese festival in Bern, Switzerland

Where: Bern

When: 24 October, 2015

A wide range of cheeses are offered on over 20 stalls. Cheese production demonstration, cheese dishes and entertainment on "Waisenhausplatz".

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November

Christmas Markets

Here's a list of selected Christmas Markets in Switzerland.


Nidwaldner Alp cheese Market

Alpine Cheese fest in Beckenried, Switzerland

Where: Beckenried (Canton Nidwalden)

When: 14 - 15 November, 2015

Mingle with locals, sample cheese and be merry.

See impressions and listen to the unique Swiss German dialect of this region.

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Ürner Alpchäsmärcht (Alpine Cheese Market)

Cheese market in Seedorf, Uri, Switzerland

Where: Seedorf (Canton Uri)

When: 21 - 22 November, 2015

Large indoor cheese market in Central Switzerland. Sample cheese and buy it directly from the farmers. Entertainment.

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Onion Market (Zibelemärit)

Onion Market in Bern, Switzerland

Where: Bern

When: 23 November, 2015

Come in the wee hours of this Monday morning for breakfast. The Zibelemärit is a crowd pleaser and people visit from all over Switzerland.

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December

Christmas Markets

Here's a list of selected Christmas Markets in Switzerland.


St. Nicholas Chase (Klausjagen)

Where: Küssnacht an Rigi (Canton Schwyz)

When: 4 December, 2015

An impressive and very unique St. Nicholas parade. The event starts with whip carking in the towns roundabout. At 8:15pm, all lights go out and the procession starts.

Starting at 8:15pm


St. Nicholas Market (Chlousemärit)

L'Escalade Festival in Geneva

Where: Spiez on Lake Thun (Bernese Oberland)

When: 5 December, 2015

Small but enchanting. The idyllic bay of Spiez is one of the most romantic bays in Europe.

From 2pm - 9pm

How to reach Spiez: by train from Interlaken in 25 minutes; from Thun in 9 minutes; from Bern in 30 minutes.


St. Nicholas Celebrations

St. Nicholas celebrations in Bulle, Switzerland

Where: Bulle (Canton Fribourg)

When: 6 December 2015

5pm Torchlight procession and St. Nicholas Market.

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Chlausmarkt and Chlauschlöpfe

Christmas market in Lenzburg

Where: Lenzburg (Canton Aargau)

When: 10 December 2015 (always second Thursday in December)

Traditional St. Nicholas and christmas Market.

From 8am to 7pm

How to reach Lenzburg: by train from Zürich in 20 minutes; from Bern and Basel in just under one hour; from Lucern between 45 minutes and 1 hour and 20 minutes.

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Fête de l'Escalade

L'Escalade Festival in Geneva

Where: Geneva

When: 11 - 13 December, 2015

Fête de l'Escalade, a medieval celebration that commemorates the victory over the Duke of Savoy.

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Silvesterchlausen

Silvesterchlausen, a traditional costum in the Canton Appenzell

Where: Urnäsch, Herisau, Hundwil, Stein, Waldstatt, Schwellbrunn, und Schönengrund (AR)

When: 31 December, 2015

Celebrated December 31 and January 13, the old New Years Eve. Colourful groups of masks wander from house to house, where they ring their bells, yodel and wish each family per handshake a prosperous and happy new year.

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