Zurich festivals
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Zürich’s biggest party is August’s massive Street-Parade (www.street-parade.ch), a tumultuous three-day techno weekend of floats, costumes, dancing in the streets and general hedonism, second in size and energy only to Berlin’s Love Parade held a week or two beforehand; if you’re in the city, you won’t be able to miss it.

On a more traditional note, the Sechseläuten is Zürich’s spring festival, held on the third Monday in April, and is the only time in the year that Zürich’s establishment preens its feathers in public: a highlight of the festival is a parade through the city centre by the city’s traditional guilds, dressed in costume. The festival culminates at 6pm precisely with the burning of the Böögg – an effigy stuffed with fireworks – on Sechseläutenplatz next to Bellevue, to symbolize the end of winter. Throughout the evening the guilds take turns to visit each other in their respective guildhalls, most of which have happily become rather good restaurants.

One evening in the week before Christmas sees the Lichterschwimmen, a tradition of launching floating candles from the Rathausbrücke onto the River Limmat, to the accompaniment of gingerbread and glühwein. Zürich’s Fasnacht (Carnival) is a boisterous affair, fun if you happen to be in the city, but it’s still small fry compared with those of Luzern and Basel. However, the summertime Züri Fäscht – held every three years (next on July 6–8, 2001) – is worth making a diversion for, with the whole city throwing itself into fairground revelry.

Zürich’s annual Festspiele is a festival of theatre, opera, music and art, held from late June into mid-July, with special productions, concerts and exhibitions all over the city. The Theaterspektakel, during late August and early September, also packs out the city’s stages and sees lakeside marquees set up on Mythenquai for avant-garde drama from around the world. There’s also a citywide international jazz festival every November.

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