The Swiss National Day has been celebrated since 1891. Depending on the language of the region in Switzerland, this holiday goes by as Schweizer Bundesfeier (German), Fête Nationale Suisse (French), Festa Nazionale Svizzera (Italian) or Fiasta naziunala Svizra (Romansh). The 1st of August refers to the date when the three founding cantons of Switzerland – Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden – came together to swear the oath of the Swiss Confederation on Rütli Meadow in 1291.
For many Swiss, Rütli Meadow in central Switzerland (canton of Uri above Lake Lucerne) is the place to be on National Day, August 1. Main celebrations also take place at the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen with a grand firework display. Sadly due to COVID-19 situation both celebrations at Rütli Meadow and the Rhine Falls have been cancelled in 2020.
How to celebrate the Swiss National Day?
Each commune prepares its own celebration for August 1st. There is only 1 federal level celebration – a television broadcast by the President of the Swiss Confederation.
You can see children who carry lighted paper lanterns in the streets at night and observe how public and private buildings are decorated with national, cantonal and community flags. Many bakeries bake bread rolls with Swiss flag on top, or supermarkets sell boiled eggs decorated with the Swiss cross.
Bonfires are lit mainly on hills and other elevated spots, as a traditional that shows how the news were spread in this manner in the 14th century.
Swiss National Day Celebration in 2020
2020 is a special year where many communes and some of the biggest Swiss cities like Bern and Zurich had to make a tough choice to cancel the Swiss National Day celebration due to COVID-19 . At the same time, some decided to hold celebrations with a new approach that allows public to follow hygiene rules.
Brunch on Swiss National Day
There is a fun tradition to celebrate August 1 by participating at the brunch at a farm across all Swiss cantons. Usually it is recommended to book far in advance but it might be still possible to find a slot on brunch.ch!
The city of Lugano prepared concerts during the day of August 1st. Piazza dela Riforma, Piazza Independenza and Piazza Manzoni will host the main festivities. Sadly the city decided not to organise the parade and the firework.
Geneva celebrates Swiss National Day in a creative way in 2020. There will be 8 areas in city where concerts and performances will be held: Botanical Gardens and Conservatory, Les Grottes Square, Jonction district, Theatre de l’orangerie and 4 parks: Parc Gourgas, Parc des Acasias, Parc Beaulieu, Parc des Franchises.
Although Interlaken plans to celebrate at a rather reduced scale, the town will spoil its visitors with the colourful fireworks and bonfires lit on the slopes of the surrounding mountains! Be ready also for folklore performances like alphorn blowing, flag twirling and yodelling!
Happy celebrations and we’ll let you know how we celebrated on our Instagram account!