Bye Bye Winter not Die Winter!

Bye Bye Winter not Die Winter!

Today the 19th of April, is the day that the Zurich Sechselaeuten was supposed to roll out its festive colours and fun rituals to welcome the spring, as it does most years.

Alas, this year, this much-loved springtime festival has gone the way of so many other festivities and been postponed until 2022 (thanks again pandemic!).

But what is Sechselaeuten? And why is it so dear to the hearts of the people of Zurich (and anyone else who happens to experience it)?

Sechselaeuten
Two years ago
Sunday's Parade
The boolet
Monday's Parade
The ambience
Tip #1
Tip #2
2022 Sechelaeuten

Zurich’s famous Sechselaeuten Spring Festival

Today the 19th of April, is the day that the Zurich Sechselaeuten was supposed to roll out its festive colours and fun rituals to welcome the spring, as it does most years. Alas, this year, this much-loved springtime festival has gone the way of so many other festivities and been postponed until 2022 (thanks again pandemic!). But what is Sechselaeuten? And why is it so dear to the hearts of the people of Zurich (and anyone else who happens to experience it)? Mostly it’s because it’s time to say “Bye Bye Winter not Die Winter”! It’s the chance to wave goodbye to winter days (and dark nights) and celebrate the beginning of the wonderful summer-autumn period. Mind you, the winter season in Zurich, and Switzerland in general, is wonderful too - especially in 2019, the last festival we enjoyed pre-pandemic, when the weather was really mild! We are all hoping that in 2022 we will once again enjoy this majestic event!

Let’s remember what happened two years ago

The celebration lasted 4 days, starting from Friday the 5th of April 2019, with an exciting raft of culinary and musical events. On Friday and Saturday, the whole of Zurich was in celebration mode, preparing for the big event. In the city centre, all buildings were decked out with the Swiss flag (and those of the different trade unions). On Sunday evening, the children’s parade began for kids aged from 5 until 15 years old, representing the 900-year history of Zurich as a city. Last time, around 3,000 children and 800 musicians took part in the fun!

Sunday’s parade

Before the parade comes to an end, Zurich welcomes people from all over the globe who live in this beautiful city, with the parade of different countries. I felt so proud when my own country Greece appeared in the colourful line-up. Last and definitely not least, the Arm of Boolet symbolises the finale of the parade.

The boolet

The parade winds up at Sechselaeutenplatz, in front of the Zurich Opera house, where on Monday evening at 18:00 sharp, the arm of Boolet is set on fire. Tradition says that the faster the head of Boolet explodes in the flames, the warmer the summer will be! On 2019, the head exploded within the first 19 minutes! And guess what? That summer was quite hot! Especially at the end of June when I recall that the temperature was really high - even for Greeks like me.

Monday’s parade

Spring Festival comes to an end with the official celebration of Sechselaeuten on Monday. The parade starts at 15:30 and ends after the Boolet ceremony. After that, the unofficial barbeque kicks off, around 20.00. Monday’s parade is the most impressive of all, with all the trade unions joining in (3,500 people, 350 horse riders, musicians, colourful costumes, historical arms- can you picture it?).

The ambience

Spectators watching the parade offer up flowers to the members of the parade. In return, they often receive not only flowers but also sweets, treats and tasty products from the particular trade union. If you are lucky, you might even score a free glass of wine! It is one of Zurich’s major and most joyful events and attracts tens of thousands of spectators. Needless to say, the Monday parade is a bank holiday for Zurich (after 12:00 noon) and most of the shops are closed, especially around Banhofstrasse.

Sechelaeuten tip #1

As you can imagine, both parades - especially Monday’s - are super crowded (at least, they used to be!). You’ll need to scout a good spot ahead of time if you want a birds-eye view of all the fun of the parade. Being Switzerland, you can actually book a seat in one of the main roads like Banhofstrasse or Limatquai - but my tip in order to have a panoramic view is to head at least thirty minutes earlier to the veranda of Gross Münster. I consider this to be the best spot with the best vantage for you to enjoy the parades without feeling packed in like a sardine! At around 18:00 on Monday when the Boolet is on fire at Sechelaeutenplatz, it’s almost mission impossible to score a “perfect seat” as the whole platz is closed for anyone not actually participating in the parade. Even so, you can usually find somewhere further back in the broader platz and as the Boolet is elevated for all to see, you’re sure to experience the ambience of this impressive spectacle, such as the sound of the horse riders circling the flaming Boolet (even if you don’t quite see it for yourself). Don’t forget to take pictures or videos so you can relive the moment afterwards (just like the hundreds of fellow spectaculars around you who’ll all be waving their smart phones in the air trying to capture the experience!).

Sechelaeuten tip #2

Another tip is not to leave the centre of Zurich immediately after the burning of the Boolet. Stick around and you will definitely see members of the parade leaving: that’s your chance to view them at close range. Especially near Sechselaeutenpaltz and Banhfostrasse. If you like lively celebrations with electric ambience and colourful parades, Sechelaeuten is a wonderful excuse to visit Zurich (at least once). I am a parade lover from way back, so I highly recommend it!

2022 Sechelaeuten

Sechelaeuten 2022 will take place on the 25th of April and we hope to be there and admire first hand this marvellous festivity! Looking forward to seeing you at the 2022 Sechelaeuten and looking forward even more to a warm 2021 summer (even if it the Boolet will only be on fire in our hearts and minds like last year!).