How will the five largest Swiss cities be celebrating New Year?
As the year comes to an end, many of Switzerland’s cities are set to commemorate the end of 2021 by putting on events and festivals. However, with the ever-looming presence of COVID restrictions, many cities have chosen to tone down their celebrations. Here is what the five largest cities in Switzerland are planning for New Year's Eve. Bear in mind that most organised outdoor events and all indoor events will require a 2G or 2G+ COVID certificate and tickets may be in short supply.
Zurich's New Year's fireworks to be replaced with lights
Traditionally, Zurich, Switzerland’s largest city, sees in the new year with a large fireworks show, meant to light up the night sky as the bells of the Grossmünster ring out at midnight. Typically, families congregate around Lake Zurich to see the firework show and perhaps crack open a bottle of champagne.
For 2021, the celebrations will be more subdued, in order to not attract large crowds to the city centre. Instead of a fireworks display, Silvesterzauber Light 2021 will illuminate the city's historical sites and landmarks. Made by Gerry Hofstetter, the light show will start at 5pm on New Year's Eve before the lights switch off at 2am on New Year's Day.
Geneva to be visited by the Northern Lights
Much like Zurich, Geneva has also had to curtail plans for a New Year's fireworks display in favour of a light and sound show. Mayor of Geneva Frédérique Perler said she wanted to give the residents of the city “a moment of contemplation, open to all, in order to unwind.”
Genevans are encouraged to visit the Parc des Bastions on December 31 or January 1 and 2, to see “the Northern Lights in the Geneva sky.” The Borealis light show, by artist Dan Acher, can be seen throughout the city and will be the first time the Northern Lights visit the Genevan skyline. The show will be aired every 45 minutes between 7pm and midnight on December 31, or 7pm and 11pm on the January 1 and 2.
Basel's theatre to put on four New Year shows
Sadly, the spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks on the Rhine River will not take place in 2021. The city of Basel will instead provide a “Thoughtful New Year’s Eve” programme in Basler Münster, including choir singing and church services.
Across the city, other venues have had to adapt to the current COVID situation. The Theatre Basel has three stage plays on offer on New Year’s Eve, ranging from ballet, plays and guest performances. Patrons are encouraged to join a New Year's drink after the performance in Theaterplatz around the Tinguely Fountain.
Lausanne to have a giant silent party
The capital of Canton Vaud, Lausanne, is set to keep many of its New Year’s celebrations. Among some of the highlights is the New Year’s Eve “Giant Silent Party,” a large silent disco event run by the local Christmas Market, Bô Noël. The event, lasting from 8.30pm to 2am the next day, will require a COVID pass and all entrants must be over 18.
A more luxurious way to ring in the new year is on CGN’s New Year’s Eve cruise. For "just" 249 Swiss francs per person, you can sample champagne, wine and a six-course dinner while cruising on lac Léman. The boat ride will also include live music, ending at 1am.
Bern to toast 2022 in Münsterplatz
Finally, the de-facto Swiss capital Bern will welcome 2022 in a rather serene fashion. Every New Year’s Eve, the people of Bern travel to Münsterplatz with their own refreshments to toast the new year. In recent years, the practice has become something of a tradition, with hundreds of people coming to clink glasses with each other at the dawn of every new year.
Elsewhere in the city, the local mountain, Gurten, will host its own New Year’s Eve get together. The party, sponsored by radio station Energy Bern, will party long into the night, COVID certificate permitting.