A Year In

Switzerland

January

Inferno Downhill (late Jan). In Mürren, the world’s oldest and longest downhill ski race is open to all.

World Economic Forum (late Jan). Davos plays host to heads of state and public events.

l International Hot Air Balloon Festival (late Jan–early Feb). Competition and passenger flights high above Château d’Oex in the Alps.

A Year In Switzerland

February

l White Turf (first three Suns). Champagne flows as thoroughbred horses make snow fly on St Moritz’s frozen lake.

Carnival (late Feb–early Mar). It’s party time in every village during Carnaval (in French), or Fastnacht (in German), with world-famous parades in Basel and Lucerne.

A Year In Switzerland

March

l Engadine Marathon (second Sun). Well over a thousand cross-country skiers trudge across frozen lakes and woods to rustic S-chanf; open to all.

International Motor Show (mid-Mar). Geneva’s 10-day extravaganza launches futuristic designs, as well as the next year’s family cars.

Verbier Xtreme (end Mar–early Apr). Skiers and snowboarders compete with pros on Verbier’s challenging terrain.

A Year In Switzerland

April

Festichoc (early Apr). Visitors tour artisan workshops, ride on the chocolate train and sample all the chocolate they can stomach in Versoix for free.

l Landsgemeinde (late Apr). Switzerland’s unique open-air assembly takes place in Appenzell, where some 3,000 citizens stand and vote on all public matters.

A Year In Switzerland

May

Combats de Reines, Aproz (early May). In Aproz, the unique Herens breed of feisty cow lock (blunted) horns in bovine battle to determine next year’s “Queen of queens”.

l International Cheese Festival (1st Sun). Visitors - and judges - snaffle samples made by cheesemakers from around the world, vying to be crowned Supreme Champion in Gruyères.

A Year In Switzerland

June

l Art Basel (mid-June). World-renowned art fair, with sister events in Miami and Hong Kong.

Montreux Jazz Festival (end June). Jazz fans flock to venues across the city for this legendary music festival. Acclaimed artists perform everywhere from intimate cafés to Montreux’s huge Stravinski auditorium.

A Year In Switzerland

July

Paléo (late Jul). An eclectic range of rock, blues and funk is performed in circus tents around Nyon.

l Swiss Open (end Jul). The world’s best tennis players battle it out on impeccable clay courts for the title of champion, in Gstaad’s ultra-chic surroundings.

A Year In Switzerland

August

l Swiss National Day (1 Aug). During the day, a parade snakes through Zurich, while bonfires and fireworks illuminate every mountaintop across the country by night to celebrate the founding of the Swiss Confederacy.

International Film Festival (mid-Aug). Thousands of spectators grab a seat in Locarno for outdoor viewings on a huge screen, of premieres, as well as old favourites.

Lucerne Festival (mid-Aug–mid-Sep). Internationally renowned summer programme of galas and concerts showcase the best of classical music.

A Year In Switzerland

September

l Désalpage (mid-Sep–early Oct). Bringing the cows down from high alpine pastures is celebrated in every rural Swiss village, with children leading highly decorated cows through the streets.

A Year In Switzerland

October

Chestnut Festival (mid-Oct). During a celebration of chestnuts across Ticino, more than 2,000 kg (4,400 lbs) are consumed in a day in Ascona.

l Swiss Toy, Bern (mid-Oct). The country’s largest toy fair is held every year in Bern, showcasing everything from stuffed toys shaped as alpine marmots to cutting-edge digital devices.

A Year In Switzerland

November

l Onion Fair (late Nov). At this uniquely Swiss event, people flock to Bern from across the country to ring in the onion harvest. A wild confetti-throwing battle signals the official end of the festival.

A Year In Switzerland

December

L’Escalade (12 Dec). Celebrating the successful defence of Geneva from an attack by the Duke of Savoy in 1602, thousands march through the city in period costumes.

l Christmas Markets (throughout). Open-air markets appear across the country. While the ones in Basel, Bern, Zürich and Montreux are among the biggest, Stein am Rhein and Fribourg’s are particularly charming.

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