Zurich Street Parade: What you need to know
On Saturday, August 13, revellers from all around the world will descend on the Swiss city of Zurich for a day of dancing, partying and having fun. After a two-year break due to the COVID pandemic, one million people are expected to attend the latest Zurich Street Parade. Here is a brief introduction to Street Parade, and how the city and emergency services are preparing for the event.
What is Zurich Street Parade?
Zurich Street Parade is the largest “techno parade” in the world. The event includes a series of music stages arranged across the old town of Zurich, and a street parade of “party floats” which drive through the revelry. A large section of the city is pedestrianised and cordoned off for the parade, with bars and restaurant stalls set up to keep party-goers happy and refreshed.
Starting in 1992, more than one million people now attend the event every year, listening to music and dancing into the small hours by the banks of Lake Zurich. Despite the jovial atmosphere, Street Parade is still, technically, a political protest, but has mostly taken the form of a giant party in recent years.
Warning: Video contains flashing images
When does Zurich Street Parade start?
The event starts at 1pm and ends at midnight on August 13. The parade includes 80 parties dotted around the lakeside and in the old town of Zurich. In all, 200 artists will perform on 8 stages during the course of the event. The larger stages - at Sechseläutenplatz and Bürkliplatz - will host a number of top acts from the techno scene.
The “parade” part of Street Parade is a 2,4-kilometre route around the lake, which is driven by up to 30 brightly decorated trucks or "loveboats," filled to the brim with revellers and sound systems. The floats slowly make their way through the city, pumping out music.
Can a Swiss city cope with one million party-goers?
The organisers of Street Parade openly admit that having one million revellers take over a city of 400.000 is always going to be a challenge. Speaking to Blick, Protection & Rescue spokesperson Urs Eberle said that preparations have to start three months in advance and that 500 workers are needed to man all the key services.
Eberle explained that 18 tons of material on 16 trucks are needed for the festival. For partygoers, six temporary clinics are to be set up for people requiring medicine or transfers to hospital. Around 654 medical treatments had to be administered at the last Street Parade in 2019, 10 percent less than the year before. 13 ambulances, four civil defence vehicles and three rapid rescue boats have also been recruited to help during the event.
In addition, the Zurich city police told Blick that they will, "like every year, [arrive with] with a large contingent on site, not only on land, but also on the water." "In addition to the uniformed emergency services, detectives in civilian clothes will also be present," a spokesperson confirmed.
Authorities recommend coming to the parade prepared
If you do plan on joining in the festivities, Eberle recommended that people wear sturdy, closed shoes to avoid broken glass and use sun protection. He also noted that “participants can contribute to a safe Street Parade through respectful and peaceful interaction.”
"Overall, around 500 employees will ensure that dance enthusiasts can celebrate as safely as possible and at the same time that regular emergency basic care is guaranteed throughout the city," Eberle concluded.
How can I get to (or avoid) Street Parade in Zurich?
To help ease the flow of passengers during the parade, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has agreed to run 20 extra trains on the network, which will travel from other Swiss cities to Zurich and back until late at night. In Canton Zurich, daytime S-Bahn services will continue until 4am, and trams and local buses will also continue to run on a special timetable. If you want to attend Street Parade, or avoid it entirely, SBB recommends consulting the online timetable before you travel.
If you do not want to attend Street Parade, authorities recommend that you avoid central Zurich on August 13. The entirety of the area around the lake will also be closed to cars from the start of the event until 7am on August 14, so drivers are also advised to avoid travelling through the city.