Geneva, Switzerland – The Swiss are ready to ring in the New Year with lots of ancient customs and a good dose of outdoor celebrations. Here’s a selection of what’s on this New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (see my previous entry to see what’s on in Geneva).
Appenzell’s public masquerade
Early in the morning on New Year’s Eve, men and boys take over the streets of Appenzell in what is considered one of the most beautiful and festive traditions in Switzerland.
The men and children, dressed in ancient customs (the Chläuse), go from house to house in the region walking always in line, tolling their giant cowbells and wishing residents a good new year. This is called the Schelli in the local dialect.
The group yodels ancient songs while the residents greet them, and sometimes, offer them mulled wine and food.
The masks and bells which weigh up to 30 kilos, represent the beautiful, the ugly, the forest and nature or the Kläusen.
Preparations begin in the town’s main square at 05:00 on 31 December with festivities ending sometime in the early hours of 1 January.
Video of the Silvesterklausen – Produced by the Switzerland tourism office
Other New Year’s Eve celebrations around Switzerland
- Cowbell carriers dressed in traditional outfits take over the streets in the Bernese Oberland and also in Interlaken; the Trychelzüge, groups of drumming and bell-ringing locals, leave their villages and meet at Uebersitz, the party ends with fireworks
- Fireworks in Zurich, great fun for those wanting to celebrate in the largest public New Year’s Eve party in Switzerland
- Basel does rave, over 10,000 square metres of partying space, on 31 December at the St. Jakobshalle, beginning at 20:00
- Vevey announces an outdoor party with witches, jugglers, music and fireworks!
- Check out options in other regions in Switzerland on the National Tourism website
Activities for 1 and 2 January
- In Leysin the party never ends, the Petite Nouvel-An celebration begins again on 1 January when all restaurants and bars open their doors for a giant pub-crawl
- The Christmas market in Villars-sur-Ollon continues until 9 January offering local savours, scents and beautiful products
- The Pelzmartiga promise to scare the jeepers out of you on 1 January, starting at noon and well into the night, part of a local tradition in Kandersteg, located in the Bernese Oberland
- The Buren Carnival begins on 1 January and ends on 2 January, a 45o-year-old tradition that ends with the burning of the never blessed
Remember all the museums of the city of Geneva reopen on Sunday 2 January and being the first Sunday of the month, entrance is free.
Happy New Year to y’all!