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Six bizarre Swiss events you’ve never heard of

When you try to picture a Swiss festival, do you see alphorns, flags and cows - lots of cows?

You are right on the money. Many festivals throughout the year celebrate the farming culture. But those who have a closer look under the hood of Helvetica will discover some truly bizarre Swiss festivals. After our initial rundown, we are coming back with even more whacky events and festivals the Swiss have to offer.


The amphibious car meet would make James Bond jealous.

Annual Swiss Amphibious Car Meet

Sun, fun and heat: For a group of enthusiasts, the latter side-effect of summer can only be cured with plenty of water. Every year, they cruise Swiss lakes with their 1940's amphibious vehicles. And every three years when Züri-Fäscht is on, visitors like your truly get to experience what it is like to roll from the turf to the surf...

Annual Swiss Amphibious Car Meet

The Roman Festival in Augusta Raurica

Roman Festival Augst - 2014 - Soldiers

Augusta Raurica near Basel is a former Roman city, featuring some very cool excavation sights. Every last weekend in August, the town of Augst hosts a Roman Festival honoring its past.

Some 22'000 spectators can't go wrong: Realistic gladiator fights, workshops, music, food and wine were enough reasons to attract even couch potatoes who would have rather watched Gladiator on a big screen... And here is our own run-down of the Roman Festival.

Roman Festival Augst - 2014

The Unspunnen Stone Tossing Competition

Unspunnen Stone(Photograph copyright Tony Bowden/Wikipedia)

The Unspunnenfest in Interlaken is a folk festival with a twist: Sure, you will find yodeling, flag tossing, cow bingo and the like, but also a competition of a different kind... The Unspunnen stone throwing competition.

Meet the Unspunnen Stone, a 83.5 kb/184 lb piece of rock from the Aare river. The winner of the last Unspunnenfest in 2006 hurled this piece of granite 3.89 m/12.76 ft through the air! How could anyone beat this distance during this year's event?


Cows gonna fight in Valais...

Swiss Cow Fighting Leukerbad

Cow fights are unique to the canton of Valais, where a "Queen Cow" is determined every year. We are not talking bull-fighting here, but rather pitting Mona vs. Lisa! In this pushing/pulling contest, the cow that holds her own against all opponents is crowned with flowers and the largest bell of all. On top of this, she will get to proceed the cow herd as they migrate to their Alpine summer pastures...

Swiss Cow Fighting Leukerbad(Photographs copyright Leukerbad Tourismus/

And Santas gonna swim at the annual Samichlaus-Schwimmen in Zürich's Limmat River.

Zurich Samichlaus Schwimmen

Every December, regular Joes in Zürich pay to wear a Santa hat and swim across the freezing Limmat river! I am not going to judge anyone here because my friends have participated in the Samichlaus-Schwimmen, but still... This event can even sell out, thus providing bragging rights to only a few hundred.

Zurich Samichlaus Schwimmen

Award-winning beards can be seen at the Alpine Beard Festival in Chur.

Alpine Beard Festival (Copyright Getty Images)(Photograph copyright Getty Images)

Finally, how about a beauty contest with a twist? The Swiss have an answer to that as well, with their annual International Alpine Beard Festival, which takes place as part of the Churer Fest in August.

The event has become so popular that it draws not only beard aficionados from the local mountains, but also from neighboring Germany and Austria!

Alpine Beard Festival (Copyright Getty Images)(Photograph copyright Getty Images)

Dimitri Burkhard

As the founder, editor, and community manager of Newly Swissed, Dimitri owns the strategic vision. He is passionate about storytelling and is a member of Swiss Travel Communicators. Dimitri loves discovering new trends and covers architecture, design, start-ups and tourism.

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Dimitri Burkhard

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