Parades, Sports & Music Festivals In Switzerland’s Capitol City
This small Swiss capital, known for its BearPark, arcades of long archways and below-ground restaurants, shops and nightclubs, also has a number of events throughout the year.
And they all add sizzle to the city of Bern.
The biggest party of the year in Bern is its three-day celebration for Carnival. It’s huge. So huge, in fact, it starts on Thursday when the bear imprisoned in the Prison Tower is woken from his winter sleep by the “Ychüblete” (drumming) and released, amd goes thru Saturday.
Masked revelers swarm through the streets and restaurants of the Old Town and “Guggenmusik-Cliques” (carnival bands) march down the promenade. On Saturday, a parade rolls through town attracting 50,000 spectators, followed by a concert. Bern Carnival in 2015 is Feb. 11-13.
One might think they woke up in Chicago, New Orleans or St. Louis when B.B. King, Fats Domino, Dizzy Gillespie or Ella Fitzgerald are in town. But they have all been part of the annual International Jazz Festival, which takes place during a 10-week period in the Spring (March 17-May 24). Bern Tourism is offering a free night during the festival.
There is the Bern Grand Prix, or the Grand-Prix von Bern is the “10 most beautiful miles in the world.” This running event features 25,000 competitors on May 14.
More than 35,000 people turn out for the Gurtenfestival on Bern’s The Gurten mountain. This is a huge music festival with more than 60 bands plus another 60 DJs playing all forms of music: Pop, rock, punk, electro, funk, soul, R&B, hip hop, country and blues.
It features not only bands from all over the world but several Swiss musicians, as well. The 2016 event is July 14-17.
The Buskers Festival (Aug. 7-9) features 300 musical shows of Swiss folk, jazz, hip-hop and more, mixed in with street performances, puppet theater, comedy and food and drink. It occurs at 30 sites throughout Bern. On Saturday, food and drinks are served until 3 a.m.
Naturally, the city celebrates the winter holiday season. In Bern, it’s the annual Christmas markets will be held at the Waisenhausplatz and Münsterplatz from Nov. 28-Dec. 24. Waisenhausplatz has a New Year’s Market Dec. 26-29.
On a year-round basis, Bern also has flower, vegetable and meat markets every Tuesday and Saturday on Bundesplatz and Munsterplatz.