Autumn festivals and customs

Most of Switzerland's autumn festivals are related to harvesting activities and grape harvests. The plethora of parades, markets, dancing events and show booths all over Switzerland can get anyone into a party mood. 

Stand at the Bern onion market with visitors
Hundreds of actors, singers and animals performing for thousands of spectators at the Winegrowers' Festival. © Samuel Rubio, Brotherhood of Winegrowers

Winegrowers' festivals in all wine-making regions

Grape harvests also herald in celebratory wine festivals in all of Switzerland's wine-making regions. The most significant of these festivals is the one in Neuchâtel, where traffic is banished from the city centre for three days of celebrations at the end of September. Vevey puts on its Winegrowers' Festival every 25 years. Hundreds of performers and animals parade through the town. The most recent edition of the Festival was in 2019, three years after the event was recognised by UNESCO as part of humanity's intangible cultural heritage.

The 'Bénichon' in the canton of Fribourg

The Bénichon celebration, celebrated throughout the canton of Fribourg, features sumptuous meals, dancing, parades and music. This street festival is held in the lowlands on the second Sunday of September and in the mountainous regions on the second Sunday in October.

Älplerchilbi carvivals and Sennenchilbi herdsman's festivals in Central Switzerland

Central Switzerland and especially the half cantons of Obwalden and Nidwalden are well-known for their harvest-time festivals. These street festivals, known as Älplerchilbi and Sennenchilbi, take place on the third Sunday of October. The alpine dairy workers are the women and men – shepherds and cheese-makers – who spend the summer on the alp working with the cattle. They come together in the given village's square and spout off jokes for public amusement, also making fun of local celebrities and politicians.

Bern's Zibelemärit onion market

On the fourth Monday of November, Bern's vast traditional onion market – referred to as the 'Zibelemärit' in the Bernese dialect – takes over the town, which is colourfully decorated to serve as a charming backdrop for the market stands selling onions, winter vegetables, ceramic tableware, 'magenbrot' bread, and souvenirs.

The Unspunnen festival in Interlaken

The Unspunnen festival is a traditional costume and alpine festival and takes place approximately every 12 years in Interlaken. It focuses on folk customs such as Swiss wrestling (schwingen), yodelling, and the throwing of the 83.5-kilogramme Unspunnenstein stone. The festival was held for the first time in 1805 and the next one is planned for 2029.