Since 1891, the August 1st has been celebrated as Swiss National Day. The date refers to a historic alliance concluded in 1291 by the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. This alliance became the focal point around which the Switzerland of today was built over the past 500 years.
The legend goes that these three cantons at the beginning of the month of August 1291 swore eternal allegiance to one another, promising mutual help and assistance.
The holiday is celebrated exclusively within the communities of the cantons themselves; a radio or television broadcast by the President of the Swiss Confederation is the only exception to this esteemed federal principle. Communal celebrations comprise solemn words spoken by a prominent public figure from political or cultural life, accompanied by a concert or choir and the community singing the national anthem.
Wealthy communities or tourist offices may also sponsor a display of fireworks. Bonfires, mainly on hills and other elevated spots, commemorate the expulsion of foreign bailiffs in the fourteenth century, the news of which were spread in this manner in those days. Children carrying lighted paper lanterns roam the streets at night. Public and private buildings are decorated with national, cantonal, and community flags, and the bakers produce special bread rolls with a small Swiss flag on top.
If you're in a festive mood, Hello Switzerland has a comprehensive guide to the biggest festivities taking place across Switzerland. If you're interested in more options you can check out dozens of additional Swiss National Day events around the country in cities big and small on MySwitzerland.com.
31 July - 1 August
For two days, Vevey is partying along Lake Geneva's lakeside to celebrate Swiss National Day.
Don't miss the fireworks on 1 August, they start at 22:30.
Schifflände Mittlere Brücke
The activities start at at 5:00 p.m. and go on until 1:00 a.m. the following morning. The festival area stretches along the Kleinbasler side of the Rhine from the Johanniterbrücke to the Wettsteinbrücke, and in Grossbasel from the Johanniterbrücke to the Mittlere Brücke, and from the harbor to the Marktplatz. Firework display starts at 11:00 p.m.!
At the end of July, the residents of Biel, the Jura & Three Lakes Region and many visitors admire the enchanting display of fireworks to celebrate the Swiss National Day throughout the night. Over 50 stalls near the lake offer something for everyone including entertainment, catering, an amusement park for the kids and a concert. Come join the party!
The fesitivities in Zug include everything from traditional sounds to Swiss-German pop music. The evening will close with a performance by the famous Swiss musician Marc Sway.
You will find the celebrations taking place by the Grandes-Rames, in the quarters of Neuveville, close to the school. The evening program starts at 5:30 p.m. with an alphorn performance at Lorette. At 6:30 p.m. you'll experience traditional events, such as a celebratory speech and musical entertainment by the Grandes-Rames followed by the lighting of the traditional bonfire and fireworks at 10:00 p.m. from Lorette.
The celebrations will start at 7:30 p.m. with a delicious barbecue, drinks and live music. The fireworks display will start at 10:30 p.m.
Swiss National Day on the 1st of August is celebrated in style in Bern. There is an exciting program of events for young and old taking place all over the city, starting with the city brunch on the Münsterplatz in the morning and rounded off with a fireworks display up on the Gurten in the evening.
During the day, you can visit numerous attractions. Enjoy music, tasty food served outdoors, and join in the fun and games that are part of the kids' program on the Münsterplattform terrace.
Celebrate Switzerland's "birthday" by enjoying a day at the Lake of Zurich with BBQs, regional delicacies and fireworks in the evening. The day starts with a parade at 10: a.m. and goes on to the Werdmühleplatz, along the Bahnhofstrasse, to Bürkliplatz. Afterwards a public festival begins, with typical Swiss culinary delicacies, traditional folk music and lots of fun for all ages!
28 July – 1 August
In the streets of Crans-Montana the Swiss National Day is celebrated over four days during the long weekend. Highlight of the celebration is the unique water & firework show with the theme "Happy Look On Life" on August 1st, starting at 22:15 p.m.
The schedule of events gives a detailed overview of all of the festivities.
31 July - 1 August
28 July - 1 August
Celebrate in style! Everyone in Ouchy will be gathering in on the shores of Lake Geneva to share in this magical moment. You can also get a front row seat for the fireworks on Lake Geneva by taking a cruise with the Compagnie générale de navigation.
Photos: © Tourismus Biel Seeland/Stefan Weber; © Basel Tourismus