14 Best Festivals in Zurich 

best festivals in Zurich

Zurich has a vibrant festival scene with diverse events throughout the entire calendar year. Street parades, techno parties, film festivals, and theater performances all attract people from all over the world to the streets of this Swiss city. And if you want to experience a celebration in Zurich, you’ll find all the relevant information in this guide!

Consider traveling to the city in August if you’re mainly interested in Zurich festivals. The city comes alive with parties and performances, which take place virtually every weekend of the month. Here’s all you need to know about the best and most popular Swiss festivals in Zurich! 

Züri-Fäscht

Züri-Fäscht is the largest folk festival in Switzerland, attracting roughly two million visitors to the celebrations. It takes place on the second weekend of July, once every three years. The only problem with the festival is that they can’t organize it more often, but it takes a lot of time and money to prepare the city for something of this scale. 

Highlights of the festival include music concerts, street performers, fireworks shows, thrill park rides, and countless street food stalls. The streets along the river Limmat are overtaken by festival-goers who party well into the wee hours of the morning, and public transport is suspended for the weekend. 

However, it is uncertain whether Züri-Fäscht will continue to take place in the coming years. Zurich Folk Festival Association, the organizers have terminated their contract with Zurich city, and stated that the festival cannot continue to take place in the same form. It remains to be seen what that means for the future of this iconic event. 

Caliente!

Caliente! is the largest Latin festival in Europe. It takes place every year and lasts for three days. Latin American culture is in the spotlight during the event, which is traditionally held on the first weekend of July. 

Hundreds of thousands of festival-goers flock to the streets of Zurich to experience the celebration of Latin American culture and traditions. They listen to music, eat the food, and dance the traditional dances. The festival is a great opportunity to shop for unique Latin American handicrafts and support the local vendors. 

Zürich Film Festival

The Zürich Film Festival was first held in 2005, and since then it has grown to become one of the most important events of its kind in Europe. Attracting more than 100,000 people to the city every year in early October, the festival showcases a wide variety of international and local films. 

From premiers of Hollywood blockbusters to screenings of independent films, lovers of cinema are treated to dozens of film projections daily. The festival opens with a gala premiere, which sees some of the biggest names in the industry walk the (figuratively) red carpet. Promotion of emerging filmmakers is the main focus of ZFF, and movies that manage to snag awards in their respective categories normally go on to gain international acclaim. 

Zürich Openair

Zürich Openair is a major music festival held near the Zurich airport every year. It usually takes place in late August, over two weekends. More than 50,000 people attend the music festival, which is headlined by world-famous artists from rock, pop, indie, electronic, techno, and other genres. 

The festivities of Zurich Openair often go beyond musical performances. Art installations and workshops are also incorporated into the event, and street food vendors sell food and drinks in the festival area. 

Zurich Pride Festival

Zurich Pride Festival

Zurich Pride Festival is the largest LGBTQ+ event in Switzerland. The vibrant celebration of love and diversity traditionally takes place in June, attracting thousands of individuals to the city streets. Everyone is welcome to attend the Zurich Pride Festival and show their support for the community. 

The first iteration of the Zurich Pride Festival was held way back in 1994. At the time, it was known as Christopher Street Day, and it aimed to advocate for  LGBTQ+ rights and fight against discrimination. Over the years, it has grown to become a multi-day festival with a wide variety of events that culminate with a parade and concerts on the final day. 

Rundfunk.fm

Rundfunk.fm is a music festival that takes place in the courtyard of Zurich’s Landesmuseum. It lasts for 45 days, and during the event, DJs play radio hits for a live audience. At the same time, the music played at the festival is streamed on the Rundfunk.fm radio station and website, allowing everyone from all over the world to participate in the event. 

Additionally, many restaurants and shops in Zurich tune into the radio staying, playing music from the event for their customers. The entire city comes together to support the iconic radio station over these six weeks in late summer. 

Sechseläuten – Zurich Spring Festival

Zurich Spring Festival
Zurich Spring Festival

The Zurich Spring Festival takes place on the third Monday of April. The beginning of the festival is marked with a parade, which usually starts at Bellevueplatz and ends at Sechseläutenplatz. The parade attracts thousands of participants, as well as marching bands and even horse-drawn carriages. 

The burning of Böögg is the second-most important event of the Zurich Spring Festival. Böögg is a snowman figure stuffed with fireworks, and his incineration symbolizes the departure of winter and the arrival of spring. The faster his explodes, the better it is believed the coming summer will be. 

Zurich Street Parade

Zurich Street Parade

Zurich Street Parade is the largest techno party in the world, so mark the second Saturday of August in your calendar if you want to take part in this epic event. More than a million people from all corners of the world come to Zurich for this festival and partake in the annual parade from Seefeld to Enge. 

They’re followed by roughly 30 Love Mobiles, which are brightly colored trucks with massive sound systems. The trucks match the pace of the parade participants, allowing everyone to enjoy the music and dance throughout the parade. Techno and house music are the dominant genres during the Zurich Street Parade. 

Zürcher Theater Spektakel

Zürcher Theater Spektakel is the city’s theater festival that takes place every year. Traditionally held during the last two weeks in August, this is one of Europe’s most significant festivals for the performing arts. 

Roughly 40 international theater groups arrive in Zurich during the event to promote their latest productions. The Landiwiese Park serves as the festival setting, allowing theater-goers to enjoy spectacular performances with picturesque Lake Zurich in the backdrop. 

Dörflifäscht

Dörflifäscht is a fun three-day event in Niederdorf, usually held during the last weekend of August. The festival name translates to “little village party” which is the perfect description of the events that take place in Niederdorf during the event. 

Live music performances, open-air parties, puppet shows, face-painting events, and much more are characteristic of the Dörflifäscht. Also, some 400 market stalls are set up throughout Niederdorf during the festival, selling food, drinks, crafts, and other local products. The festival is family-friendly and features several events and games in which children can participate. 

ZüriCarneval

Guggenmusik performers

ZüriCarneval is a lively five-day festival that traditionally takes place in February. The event is a celebration of Swiss traditions, and the festivities culminate on the first Monday following Ash Wednesday. 

Guggenmusik performances are one of the best things about this festival. Lively music fills the streets of Zurich, as hundreds of performers dress up in outlandish costumes and participate in the event. The Grand Parade, which takes place on Monday afternoon, is the highlight of the ZüriCarneval. Attendees don colorful costumes and countless floats fill Bahnhofstrasse for the parade, which then transforms into a huge open-air party. 

National Bicycle Festival

The National Bicycle Festival is also known as Cycle Week, and it’s one of the best events in Switzerland for cycling enthusiasts and professionals. It includes exhibitions, test rides, races, workshops, and other events that keep all of Zurich’s cyclists busy for the four days of the event. 

Leading bicycle brands arrive in Zurich to present their latest and greatest technologies and gear, offering test rides and workshops to festival-goers. Experts hold panels on bicycle maintenance, repair, and training. Street food stalls are set up in the festival area, so no attendee goes hungry or thirsty during the event. 

Jazznojazz

Jazznojazz is Zurich’s annual festival that celebrates Jazz, Funk, and Soul music. It is usually held in late October and early November, over four days. Gessnerallee is the setting of the festival, and jazz lovers from the entire city flock here to enjoy the performances on the festival’s three stages. 

The Jazznojazz festival is headlined by both local and international acts, for a great blend of established and new talent. The atmosphere is fantastic but intimate, allowing the festival-goers to connect with the music in a way that might not be possible at bigger events. 

Knabenschiessen

Knabenschiessen is a folk festival in Zurich that takes place on the second weekend of September. Although the festival’s name is German for “Boy shooting”, I can guarantee that no children are shot during the celebrations. On the contrary, festival-goers are invited to demonstrate their target-shooting abilities and compete for the title of Knabenkönig (King of the Boys). 

The festival has a tradition that dates back to the 17th century, but the modern version of it was held for the first time in 1899. Only school children aged 13-17 can participate in the event; girls have been allowed to compete since 1991, but prior to that, the festival was reserved only for boys. 

Even though this is one of the oldest festivals in Zurich, it raises a lot of controversy. Many locals are concerned that the festival promotes gun violence, while the festival supporters argue that it is a harmless local tradition. 

Written by Ashley Faulkes
As a twenty-year resident of Switzerland, I am passionate about exploring every nook and cranny of this beautiful country, I spend my days deep in the great Swiss outdoors, and love to share these experiences and insights with fellow travel enthusiasts.

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