Upcoming Holidays and Festivals in Switzerland

Alpabfahrt cow procession, Appenzell, Switzerland
Cow processions fill the streets of alpine regions (such as Appenzell) in spring and fall.
  • Before planning a trip around a festival, verify the festival dates on the festival's website or with a local tourist information office. Weather-dependent events such as outdoor alpine festivals are often rescheduled on short notice when the forecast looks iffy; in most cases the events are then postponed exactly one week. For more information about these and other events, visit the official tourism site for Switzerland.
  • This list includes major festivals in major cities, plus national holidays observed throughout Switzerland. Many sights and banks close down on national holidays — keep it in mind when planning your itinerary. Note that this isn't a complete list; holidays can strike without warning.
  • See upcoming holidays and festivals across Europe

2018

August 1–11:  Locarno International Film Festival

August 9–11:  Buskers Bern

August 11:  Street Parade, Zürich (city-wide rave)

August 12:  Zermatt Folklore Festival

August 15:  Assumption (Mariä Himmelfahrt / l'Assomption de Marie; closures in most areas)

August 17–September 16:  Lucerne Festival in Summer (classical music)

September 6:  Jeune Genevois (Thanksgiving in Geneva)

September 8–10:  Knabenschiessen, Zürich (shooting competition / carnival)

September 16:  Federal Thanksgiving Day (Eidgenössischer Dank-, Buss- und Bettag / Jeûne fédéral, closures everywhere but Geneva; following Monday also holiday in and around Lausanne)

September/October:  Alpine cattle descent (Alp- or Almabfahrt, or Alp-or Almabtrieb / Désalpe; cow processions through alpine villages; especially festive in Appenzell dates vary by year and location)

October 5–7:  Festa d'Autunno, Lugano (food and wine harvest festival)

October 11–13:  Vernier sur Rock (rock/punk/reggae festival near Geneva)

November 1:  All Saints' Day (Allerheiligen / La Toussaint; closures in most areas)

November 2–10:  Geneva International Film Festival

November 26:  Zibelemärit, Bern (traditional onion-market fair)

December:  Christmas markets across Switzerland

December 6:  St. Nikolaus Day (visits from Samichlaus; mainly in German-speaking areas)

December 7–9:  Fête de l'Escalade (torchlight parade with period costumes, commemorating the city's escape from capture in 1602)

December 8:  Immaculate Conception (Mariä Empfängnis / Immaculée Conception; closures in some areas)

December 24:  Christmas Eve (Heilige Abend / Noël, when the Swiss celebrate Christmas; closures in afternoon and evening)

December 25:  Christmas Day (closures)

December 26:  St. Steven's Day (closures in most areas)

December 31:  New Year's Eve

2018

January 1:  New Year's Day (closures)

January 2:  St. Berchtold's Day (Berchtoldstag; some closures), Harder-Potschete parade, Interlaken

January 6:  Epiphany (closures in some areas)

January–March:  Horn sled races, alpine areas

January 13:  Gregorian-calendar New Year's Eve celebrations, Appenzell

January 18–20:  Lauberhorn ski race, Wengen

January 21–26:  World Snow Festival, Grindelwald

January 23–26:  Inferno ski race, Mürren

January 26–February 3:  International Hot Air Balloon Festival, Château-d'Oex

February 3, 10 & 17:  White Turf, St. Moritz (horse races across frozen lake)

Late February–March 2:  Chalandamarz, across Graubünden (traditional costumes, processions, bells and whips to chase away winter)

March:  Fasnacht (Carnival; especially big deal in Luzern, Zürich, Bern, and Basel)

March 10:  Engadin Ski Marathon (huge cross-country ski race that runs through St. Moritz and Samedan)

March 12–May 19:  International Jazz Festival Bern

March 19:  St. Joseph's Day (Josefstag; closures in some areas)

April (3 weeks):  Interlaken Classic Music Festival

March 30:  Good Friday (Karfreitag / Vendredi saint; closures in most areas)

April–early May 6:  Tulip Festival, Morges (Lake Geneva)

April 6–8:  Sechseläuten, Zürich (springtime festival culminating with burning of a snowman on Monday)

Late April (9 days):  Lucerne Festival at Easter

April 21–22:  Easter Sunday and Monday (Oster / Pâques and Ostermontag / Lundi de Pâques; closures in most of country)

April 28:  Appenzell Landsgemeinde (open-air parliament with public selection of delegates)

May 1:  Labor Day (Tag der Arbeit / Fête du Travail; closures in many areas)

May 5:  Gruyères Cheese Festival

May 17–20 (likely):  Street Artists Festival, Ascona (near Locarno)

May/June/July:  Alpine cattle ascent (Alp- or Almaufzug, Alp- or Almauffahrt / Estive; cow processions through alpine villages; especially big in Engstligenalp and Appenzell; dates vary by year and location)

May 30:  Ascension (Christi Himmelfahrt / l'Ascension; processions, closures)

June 9–10:  Pentecost (Pfingsten / Pentecôte) and Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag / Lundi de Pentecôte; closures in most of country)

June 20:  Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam / Fête-Dieu; closures in most areas)

June 21:  Fête de la Musique, Lausanne (wide range of music performances in streets and squares)

June 21–23 (likely):  Fête de la Musique, Geneva (wide range of music performances in streets and squares)

June 23 (likely):  Seealpsee Alphorn gathering, Appenzell

June 28–July 13 (likely):  Montreux Jazz Festival

June 29:  Sts. Peter and Paul's Day (closures in Graubünden and Ticino)

July–mid-September:  Tellspiele (William Tell performances in open-air theater, mostly on Saturdays and Thursdays; Interlaken)

July 5–7:  Rosenfest, Weggis (fireworks, music, parades; Lake Lucerne)

July 5–7:  Züri Fäscht, Zürich (street festival and fireworks; held every 3 years)

July 7 (likely):  Rigi Schwinget (alpine festival with wrestling and traditional music atop Mt. Rigi)

July 9–14:  Lausanne City Festival

July 11–13 (likely):  Estival Jazz, Lugano (free open-air festival)

July 12–14:  St. Ursanne Medieval Festival (northwest Switzerland)

July 12–August 31 (likely):  Menuhin Festival, Gstaad (classical music)

July 17–20:  Gurten Festival, Bern (open-air rock festival)

July 18–August 4 (likely):  Verbier Festival (classical music, near Martigny)

July 19–21 (likely):  International Alphorn Festival (Festival de Cor des Alpes), Nendaz (Valais)

July 19–27 (likely):  Blue Balls Music Festival, Luzern (blues/jazz/soul/funk/rock/pop/world music)

July 23–28:  Paléo Festival, Nyon (huge indie rock, world music festival near Geneva)

July 26–28 (likely):  Interlaken International Street Artists Festival (Glauklerfest)

July 28 (likely):  National Costume Festival (traditional dress from around Switzerland), atop Männlichen peak (Berner Oberland)

July 31 (likely):  Rhine Falls fireworks on the eve of Swiss National Day, Schaffhausen; also Big Bang Lake Festival, Biel / Bienne (fireworks; street fair)

August 1:  Swiss National Day (parades and fireworks with biggest celebrations at Rütli meadow on Lake Lucerne; closures)