Sechseläuten

Things to do, Festivals Free
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Sechseläuten
© Zürich Tourismus / Bruno Macor

It may be a modern city, but Zurich shows its traditional roots with this popular event.

This spring festival has its origins in medieval times and signifies the chasing away of winter and the start of the summer semester. These days it's a colourful local festival that begins on the third Sunday in April with a children's parade. The following day is the main event, when members of Zurich’s 25 guilds parade through the city wearing traditional costumes and accompanied by marching bands. Watch out for the fishermen’s guild, who have a penchant for throwing dead fish into the crowd as they go - a practice that incurred the wrath of animal rights groups in 2014. The guilds and spectators then gather on the Sechselautenplatz at 6pm for a kind of sacrificial offering. The victim is the Böögg, a giant snowman effigy. As he is set on fire, men on horseback gallop around him. According to folklore, the quicker the poor chap explodes into flame, the sooner spring will come.