While Switzerland is a relatively small European country, the history and traditions are incredibly diverse and interesting. Have you ever wondered how Switzerland, a country with three national languages, came to be such a conglomerate?
The story dates back to the beginning of August in 1291, when men from the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden formed an historic alliance against a rival group. This agreement set the wheels in motion for 500 years of Swiss history, which is celebrated on August 1st of each year.
Many regions have noteworthy events on the calendar, but the entire country has plenty of charming traditions right in each town. From bakeries creating special Swiss-themed confections to paper lantern parades by the local youth, there’s something to see and do no matter which city you’re in. Through fireworks displays, bonfires, theatrical performances, and honorable speeches, Swiss National Day is an unmissable event all over.
Eager to experience the atmosphere of Swiss National Day for yourself? Check out this guide to see the best of the best throughout the beautiful alpine country.
Rhine Falls Illumination
As one of the most popular celebrations for Swiss National Day, Rhine Falls is illuminated each year on August 1st. Thousands of people come from all over the world to see this immaculate display, which is a crowd pleaser for children young and old. Located near the town of Schaffhausen, the tradition began around 1920 and has only grown since then. Be sure to stay throughout the evening to catch the massive fireworks show as well!
Rütli Meadow Celebration
In the Rütli Meadow above Lake Lucerne, a big representative celebration takes place each year. Why Rütli Meadow? Because this is where the historic pledge of alliance took place, of course! Find yourself in the rolling hills of the canton of Uri on August 1st to experience musical performances, speeches, and picnics of local cuisine.
Basel’s Early Start
While the Swiss National Day festivities typically start on August 1st, in Basel, they just can’t wait! On the 31st of July, an exciting street fair, musical performances, and wonderful fireworks display take place along the Rhine River. Settle in early at one of the customary picnic benches with a pint of beer for the best view!
Bern Has It All
For an all-in-one experience, visit the Swiss capitol of Bern on August 1st. Begin the day with brunch on the Münsterplatz, complete with alphorn players and yodelers, then migrate to the Parliament building for an open tour. Finish the day eating local foods under the glow of a giant bonfire at Gurten, followed by a fireworks show.
Created by Mandy Burkholder