1. Hot Air Balloon Festival in Château-d’Oex
The Swiss hot air balloon capital, Château-d’Oex in the Vaudois Alps, has hundreds of hot air balloons in January of each year. The next one will take place from January 1st-29th, 2023.
The festival has been going on since 1979. In 1999, Breitling Orbiter flew the first nonstop hot air balloon trip around the world. It started right here in Château-d’Oex.
Being there, you will have the feeling of being inside of a postcard.
2. White Turf in St. Morritz
White Turf is horse race held in on a frozen lake! The event has been held for over 100 years.
Due to the ever melting ice, visitors joke that White Turf will one day becoming a swimming race. This event feels more and more impossible considering our planet is getting hotter each year. This makes this event a must-see in the near future, before it can no longer take place.
This event will be taking place on February 5th, 12th, and 19th in 2023.
3. Vogel Gryff in Basel
The Vogel Gryff is an exceptional day in January for Basel folklore dating back to the 16th Century. It will take place on 13th of January in 2023, the 20th of January in 2024, and the 27th of January in 2025.
It features the heraldic figures; Vogel Gryff, Wild Maa, and Leu. The Vogel Gryff is a griffin-like creature, with some features resembling those of a chicken. The Wild Maa is a savage man who carries a tree around to beat onlookers (especially children). Lastly, Leu is a lion. The three move through Klein Basel performing their traditional dances ALL DAY LONG. It starts at 10:30 in the morning, and ends around midnight.
I recommend watching the Wild Maa (Wild man) descend down the Rhein on a raft from the Wettstein bridge at around 10:30 am. He dances on the raft towards Klein Basel, showing his backside to Gross Basel (the names of the sides of the city on either side of the Rhein). At 12:00, you can catch him with his friends Vogel Gryff and Leu (lion) dance over the Mittlere Brücke.
Vogel Gryff is a holiday to bring attention to the three honor societies in Klein Basel. In the Middle Ages these societies were in charge of guarding the city walls. Every January the weapons protecting the walls would be tested. On the shields of each of these societies were the three characters of the celebration today. Nowadays, while there are no weapons to check, the tradition of having these three societies come together lives on.
4. Alpabzüge in Schüpfheim
You can watch the cows return from their Summer stay in the alps in Schüpfheim. The next Alpabzüge in Schüpfheim is on Septemeber 24, 2022. The streets are lined with onlookers admiring the cows' decorative flower crowns. The town of Schüpfheim only has a population of 4,219. I personally love this photo because of can see the excitement of onlookers awaiting the cows to return home.
You will also be serenaded by the sound of the Alpenhorns. Alpenhorns are used in the mountains to call the cows home.
The cows’ bells sound like thunder as they walk. The farmers carefully watch them in case the cows are suddenly startled by the crowd. The farmers parading their cows wear traditional Swiss clothing.
For up to date information, you can visit their site here.
5. Fasnacht in Basel
Basel’s Fasnacht has been recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage event and its festivities. By locals, it is known as the “Die drey scheenschte Dääg” (the three most beautiful days). Its nonstop music, unique costumes, and unique tradition make this festivity a must see.
The festivities begin at 4:00 am at "Morgenstreich" and do not stop for 72 hours. If you only visit the Fasnacht for one day, recommend visiting the Morgenstreich. Just before 4:00, all of the shops and homes in the city center turn off their lights. From this point forward, only the lanterns from the Fasnachtscliquen illuminate the city. The sound of the piccolos and drums echo through the streets until the sun rise
I have also made a full guide to Fasnacht you can find here, a video summarizing some of the highlights of the Baseler Fasnacht you can find here on Instagram and here on TikTok, and a video summarizing some of the highlights of Morgenstreich you can find here on Instagram and here on TikTok.
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