What’s on: Five unmissable events in Switzerland this weekend

From Swiss wrestling to Swedish House Mafia at Zurich's huge open air music festival, here's what's on the bill in Switzerland this weekend.

What's on: Five unmissable events in Switzerland this weekend
Swedish House Mafia are headlining at the Zurich Open Air on Friday. Photo: MICHAEL LOCCISANO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

1. Federal Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival, Zug

Held just once every three years, the Federal Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival is Switzerland’s biggest sporting event. It kicks off on Friday August 23rd and, while the wrestling (or ‘schwingen’) is the main event, Alpine culture as a whole is showcased. Around 300,000 people are expected over the three days of the festival. While tickets for the schwingen competition itself have long been sold out, there is plenty of action at the festival grounds. Read The Local's feature on the event here.

2. The Roman Festival of August Raurica (near Basel)

The Roman archaeological site of August Raurica in the canton of Basel-Landschaft this weekend plays host to a family-friendly festival featuring everything from chariot races to (mock) gladiator battles and Roman acrobatic displays. There are plenty of interactive activities for kids of all ages.

3. Zurich Open Air

Switzerland’s largest open air music festival is currently underway with single-day or multi-day tickets still available for the Zurich Open Air. Headliners on Friday include Swedish House Mafia and Nina Kraviz while Saturday’s top billing goes to Macklemore and Sunday is all about the Chemical Brothers.

4. Summerdays, Arbon

Unlike many Swiss summer music festivals which are struggling to keep their head above water financially, the Summerdays festival on the shares of Lake Constance in Arbon is going from strength to strength. Saturday is already sold out, but if you are quick you can grab tickets for Friday, giving you the chance to see legendary German singer Herbert Grönemeyer, Bonnie Tyler and 60s group Procul Harum, best known for their song ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’.

5. Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy

If your tastes in music run more to the classical, the Gstaad Menuhin Festival & Academy in the canton of Bern is the place to be over the next fortnight. It begins this Friday August 23rd and continues until September 6th with a line-up boasting amazing performers around the world. Unmissable. 

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Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’

Faced with the possibility that Swiss authorities will authorise gatherings of over 1,000 people from October 1st, health officials say the measure may spark the second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Allowing large gatherings in Switzerland ‘poses a significant risk’
Crowds of 1,000 people might be allowed from October 1st. Photo by AFP

The government announced last week that over 1,000 people will be allowed to get together from October 1st. The decision was made based on the “needs of society and the economic interests of sports clubs and cultural venues”. 

The current limit is 300.

Authorities did say that “strict protective measures will apply and the events will have to be authorised by the cantons, taking into account the local epidemiological situation and their contact tracing capacity”.

However, some health officials are sounding the alarm about the risks involved in allowing such a large number of people to congregate in one place while the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet under control.

“We are seeing a slow but inexorable increase in infections and outbreaks in Switzerland,” Philippe Eggimann, president of the Medical Society of French-Speaking Switzerland said in an interview with La Liberté newspaper. 

“It is not reasonable to open the way for more transmission opportunities,” he added.

READ MORE: 'We're on a dangerous slope': Swiss officials fear more Covid-19 cases as seasons change 

According to Eggimann, lifting the restriction on large assemblies would make it harder to trace contacts in the event of coronavirus infections, therefore “encouraging a second wave”.

He also noted that the re-opening of schools and the return from vacation will increase social interactions, and with it, the risk of exposure to the virus.

“In this context, allowing crowds of 1,000 people is a significant risk. It would have been safer to watch how things develop and only then make decisions,” he noted.

The warning comes as the number of Covid-19 infections in Switzerland became the highest since the worst of the pandemic in April.

The number of daily cases so far in August has exceeded 200 a day, rising nearly twofold from previous weeks.

That is a substantial surge from the month of June, when the count for daily cases was in the low two-digits.