Böögg burning at Sechseläuten cancelled for the first time ever

Böögg burning at Sechseläuten cancelled for the first time ever

For the first time in the event's history, the burning of the Böögg at Sechseläuten in Zurich was cancelled late on April 15. Here’s what you need to know about what will happen now and whether the weather-predicting snowman will still be burnt.

Sechseläuten returns to the streets of Zurich

And it was all going so well: on April 15, 2024, people across Zurich headed to the city centre to catch a glimpse of the colourful sights and sounds of Sechseläuten. Translated as the “six o'clock ringing of the bells”, the event is designed to celebrate the medieval tradition of when working hours in the city switched from being regulated by sunlight to the ringing of church bells - the change was a cause for celebration as it meant workers were given time off while the sun still shone.

As is tradition, the day was centred around the parade of the local guilds of Zunfts, whose members dress in costumes and uniforms from medieval times. As they march through the town, music ensembles are played, flowers are given out and flags fly. 

Strong winds hamper the burning of the Böögg

However, problems began as guild members and onlookers gathered in Sechseläuten square to watch the burning of the Böögg - a snowman whose head is filled with explosives. It is said that the longer the Böögg’s head takes to explode, the worse the weather will be during the summer, though its accuracy has been a long source of contention.

Unfortunately, Sechseläuten in 2024 saw high winds dominate the local weather, with gusts of 60 to 80 kilometres per hour recorded across Canton Zurich. The conditions were so bad in fact that several flights struggled to land at Zurich Airport on the day due to the high winds.

Organisers close to tears after Böögg burning cancelled

Therefore, for the first time since the Böögg was first added to the festival in 1902, the burning of the snowman was cancelled for safety reasons. Speaking to 20 Minuten, festival head of communications Victor Rosser said that it would be too dangerous to burn the Böögg as flaming debris could be carried into the crowd. 

Felix H. Boller, the President of the Central Committee of Zurich Guilds, told SRF that they “considered other options such as watering the Böögg or partially clearing the square”, but “had no alternative” in the end. “I could cry,” he continued.

This isn’t the first time that a calamity has affected the burning of the Böögg. In 1921, a student lit the snowman early, in 1950 the Böögg fell over, in 2006 the statue was stolen by activists and in 2016 the head failed to fully explode. Indeed, soon after the cancellation, theories began to whirr online as to what the Böögg’s refusal to be burnt meant for the upcoming summer.

Sechseläuten 2024: What happens now?

So what happens to Sechseläuten now? Speaking to the Tages-Anzeiger, the mayor of Appenzell Ausserhoden Yves Noël Balmer said that as they were the official “guest” for this year’s event, the Böögg will now be shipped to Appenzell and burnt there. He added that they were disappointed with the outcome, as 2024 was the first time the canton assumed the role of guest.

However, for those worried that the snowman will live to see another April, local Appenzell official Peter Zeller assured that “the Böögg will not survive the year.”

While the location of the burning is yet to be determined, Zurich government councillor Mario Fehr confirmed that the top of Säntis was the likely venue. The exact date and location of the Böögg burning will be officially announced in the coming days. 

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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