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Sechseläuten 2023 parade in Zurich: Details and insights

Apr 14 - Apr 17

Sechseläuten Zürich by Cloudia Chen
Copyright Cloudia Chen

The Sechseläuten parade is a quintessential Zurich experience that should not be missed. This traditional event takes place annually in the city of Zurich.

To outsiders, this Zurich spring festival is best described as a kind of Groundhog Day. The protagonists? Camels, a parade of men in medieval costumes on horseback, and a snowman with an explosive head.

History of the Sechseläuten Parade

The Sechseläuten parade has a long history that dates back to the 16th century. It is said that the parade was originally organized to mark the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The parade was also a way for the people of Zurich to show off their wealth and prosperity, as each float was designed and built to reflect the wealth and status of the participating guilds.

Sunday traditionally marks the Sechseläuten children's parade.

The guilds of Zürich have a children's costume rental service. Online registrations usually open a couple of months before Sechseläuten in late February. The participation fee for walking with the parade also includes a Zvieri snack.

Sechseläuten Zurich Children's Parade
Copyright Cloudia Chen
Sechseläuten Zürich by Cloudia Chen
Copyright Cloudia Chen

And Sechseläuten Monday is a city-wide holiday.

Most workers are off after 2 PM for the Sechseläuten parade of floats. The procession of floats is the main attraction of the Sechseläuten parade. Each float is designed and built by a different guild, and each guild tries to outdo the others with its creative and intricate designs. The floats are made of wood and paper mache and decorated with flowers, lanterns, and other colorful decorations.

The parade features some 3500 men and women in traditional costumes. Also, there are the before-mentioned camels and horses.

One of the most exciting parts of the Sechseläuten parade is the burning of the Böögg. The Böögg is a large, wooden snowman set on fire at the end of the parade.

At 6 PM sharp, the bonfire topped by a snowman is torched, and the count is on: How long will it take for the head to explode? According to local legend, the faster the Böögg burns, the better the summer will be. The burning of the Böögg is a symbol of the arrival of spring and the end of winter.

Sechseläuten Zürich by Cloudia Chen
Copyright Cloudia Chen
Sechseläuten Böögg (2014)

After the guilds have completed the traditional part of the festival, the locals will meet up at the bonfire in front of the opera house for a down-to-earth tradition: The "common people" of Zürich will BBQ sausages in the gigantic fire and have a drink.

Details

Start:
Apr 14
End:
Apr 17
Cost:
Free
Event Category:
Event Tags:
Website:
https://www.sechselaeuten.ch/
Zürich, ZH Switzerland

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