Bern’s Top Events of the Year
These are the planned event highlights in and around Bern – the organisers will provide information about a possible realisation.
Artistic Autumn (Museums are currently closed)
Can you think of a better way to spend a wet and grey afternoon than by marvelling at colourful paintings and impressive sculptures (while staying warm and dry, of course)? We thought not. That’s why the Museum of Fine Arts Bern and the Zentrum Paul Klee have launched the "Kunstherbst Bern" art event, lasting from September until the end of December. All you have to do is purchase a combi-ticket at the ticket office of either one of the two institutions and your cultural adventure can begin. The ticket grants admission to all six exhibitions on the corresponding day.
International Jazz Festival Bern (Currently events are only allowed with up to 15 participants)
The International Jazz Festival Bern is one of the oldest of its kind in all of Europe and is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. From 29 September to 5 December 2020 renowned musicians from around the world will be performing at over 200 concerts in Bern. Whether in Marians Jazzroom, in the Jazz tent of the Hotel Innere Enge or at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern – jazz fans will definitely get their money’s worth.
Rendez-vous Bundesplatz (temporarily not happening)
Multicolored, inspiring and creative, Rendez-vous Bundesplatz will enchant visitors from 16 Oktober until 21 November 2020. The breathtaking sound and light show turns the spotlight on the Swiss Parliament Building and magically transforms the Federal Palace into a type of Noah’s Ark with the theme “Planet Hope”. The free show lasts 30 minutes and is presented several times a day.
Onion Market (cancelled)
On the fourth Monday in November, the famous Onion Market transforms the streets of Bern’s Old Town into an enormous marketplace. This year it will take place on 23 November 2020 starting at 4 a.m. At the hundreds of stalls, local farmers offer regional products – and over 50 tons of onions in artistically woven braids. Our tip: Start off the day bright and early with mulled wine and a slice of onion tart!
Christmas in Bern
When Bern’s streets smell like mulled wine and roasting chestnuts and the capital city is bathed in a golden light, you know the Christmas season has arrived. From dazzling fairy-tale settings, traditional markets and winter pop-up bars to ice skating with a one-of-a-kind backdrop, Bern in December is the perfect place to get in the Christmas mood!
Bern Fasnacht Carnival
Switzerland’s third-largest carnival of fun and frivolity attracts thousands of carnival participants and revelers. From 18 to 20 February 2021 brass bands and satirical singers along with theatrical and costumed groups make the four miles of sidewalk arcades in Bern vibrate and pulse with their raucous rhythms and songs. Our tip: Experience the traditional spectacle featuring the “freeing of the bear” at Bärenplatz (Bear’s Square) at 8 p.m. on 18 February 2021 near the Käfigturm (Prison Tower).
Bern Museum Night
On 19 March 2021, the Museum Night event will bathe the facades of the Old Town in magical, colorful light. Museums and cultural institutions will open their doors to 30,000 night owls and offer a new perspective for visitors and an unforgettable look behind the scenes. The Oldtimer rides through the UNESCO World Heritage Site are particularly popular – the tour begins in front of the Hotel Bellevue Palace and is free for all museum visitors.
Let it Beer Burgdorf
The “Festival of Regional Beer Culture” takes place on 26 and 27 March 2021 in Burgdorf. Over 30 local breweries give visitors the chance to explore the vast array of Bernese beers. There is also musical entertainment and food trucks offering culinary delights. Cheers!
Get your bicycles out! For an entire weekend in Spring, it’s all about the Bernese locals’ favourite, two-wheeled mode of transportation. In March 2021, over 20 shops will open their doors to bike fans and experts will explain everything you want to know about bicycles, let you try out you their e-bikes and cargo bikes, show you the newest carbon parts, and more. And there will be fun activities all day long for bicycle fans of all ages!
Visit this Bernese-style fashion show. The latest collections from Bern designers will be presented in the streets of the Old Town in Spring 2021. Around 40 models will show off the highlights of local fashion design on a very different sort of catwalk. And anyone who spots their dream item of clothing can purchase it directly onsite at the Loufmeter Fashion Sale.
From 24 April to 1 May 2021, Bern’s concert halls will come alive to the sound of great jazz. During the festival “Jazz Unleashed”, six renowned Bernese jazz concert hosts will join forces and present a grand jazz festival with daily concerts in different locations in and around Bern. The cooperation be-tween the different Bernese jazz experts and venues will make the week a special highlight for jazz lovers.
Switzerland’s largest social trade fair is not just a popular spring event featuring an amusement park but also a cross-generational meeting place for people of all ages. A fascinating mix of products, animals and traditions awaits at the exhibition grounds from 30 April until 9 May 2021. In addition to perusing farm machinery and kitchen appliances, visitors can also sample regional specialties and new sports activities, be amazed by almost-forgotten heirloom plant varieties and much more.
Bern Grand Prix
The Bern Grand Prix is Switzerland’s second-largest running race and a first-class sporting festival. On 22 May 2021, some 30,000 runners from around the globe will cover “the most beautiful 10 miles in the world”. The route leads past famous Bern sights such as the BearPark, Nydeggbrücke bridge, the Zytglogge (Clock Tower), Rathaus (Town Hall), the Aare river, Dählhölzli forest, the Parliament Building and the Minster as it passes through Bern’s Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our tip: Join fans, friends and family members along the route and cheer on the runners as they race by.
ZAPF! Craft Beer Festival
This event is dedicated to beer and beer alone. At the ZAPF! Craft Beer Festival, beer fans can learn everything about the diverse world of Bern artisan brewing and discover delicious products from the region. Beer lovers, gourmets and a good dozen local beer producers all meet and mingle here. In June 2021 on the Warmbächli Brache in the Bernese neighbourhood Holligen.
A fair for Bern: during the “Bärner Stadtfescht” (Bern City Fair), the streets and squares between the main station and Nydeggbrücke (Nydegg Bridge) are turned into one big party and fun fair. For three days – from 25 to 27 June 2021 –, you will see people dancing, playing and having fun in the streets of the city. There are different shows such as slam poetry sessions and plays, all kinds of activities for sporty visitors and a delicious variety of foods for everyone from kids to connoisseurs.
«Hallo Velo!» Cycling Festival
In August 2021, everything makes way for bicycles in Bern and the Aare and Gürbe valleys. The cities of Münsingen and Bern are linked by a traffic-free route on this day. The cycling festival offers a diverse framework program all along the 23-mile main route. Try your hand at bicycle ball or mountainbike orienteering, hone your bike-repair skills during workshops with mechanics, and test new bike innovations. Participation is free, and you can join the main route at any spot directly from home. Get on your bike and enjoy an unforgettable day of cycling!
This four-day music festival atop Bern’s local mountain has become legendary. Apart from a family-friendly atmosphere and splendid panoramic view, just getting to the event is a memorable experience. The only mechanized way to reach the Gurten is by funicular. Of course, athletic visitors can also make their way up the mountain on foot. In addition to myriad bands and international greats, the most promising newcomers on the Swiss music scene can be experienced live on the popular forest stage from 14 to 17 July 2021.
August 1st Celebration
The Swiss national holiday is celebrated in Bern with a large array of festivities. If you are in Bern on 1 August, you will be spoiled for choice with all the activities, from a city brunch at Münsterplatz (Minster Square) and exclusive glimpses into the different government institutions to a children’s program on the Minster terrace, tours of the Zytglogge (Watch Tower) and the Minster, live concerts and the official party at Minster Square.
Buskers Bern Street Music Festival
It’s colorful, creative, zany and poetic! From 12 until 14 August 2021, some 150 artists from all over the world transform the narrow streets of the Old Town into a lively summer open-air festival. The diverse mix of music, dance, theater, comedy, puppet theater and acrobatics attracts thousands of people to the capital each year. To support this unique festival, visitors can purchase a buskers-bracelet onsite, and of course the buskers are always happy if you put something in their hat.
In spring (the exact date will be announced shortly) the shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants of the Old Town will be showing off their most beautiful and very personal side. All along the medieval streets – from Brunngasse and Junkernstrasse to Kramstrasse and Herrengasse and all the way down to Rathausgasse – the shops and restaurants underneath the sidewalk arcades and hidden in vaulted cellars invite you to explore, linger and enjoy.
Swiss Women’s Run Bern
Girl power in Bern! The starting gun will go off on 13 June 2021. With over 16,000 participants, it is not only the largest female sporting event in Switzerland but also the largest of its kind in mainland Europe. Runners can test themselves in different categories on routes measuring between 5 and 15 km. A (Nordic) walking event and a 500-m girls’ sprint for the youngest athletes are also offered. The impressive backdrop of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the throngs of spectators along the route make the Women’s Run an unforgettable experience.
This event in the Emmental valley and the Oberaargau region offers a vehicle-free day of fun and adventure for all ages, both for those who love a good time and for exercise enthusiasts. Come out on 12 September 2021 and play, move, enjoy, feast and try out something new all along the 23-mile vehicle-free route between Sumiswald, Huttwil and Kleindietwil. Numerous on- and off-road activities include entertainment and refreshments and ensure an enjoyable day all around.
Brächete Zäziwil Festival
This traditional folk festival features breaking, hackling, spinning and weaving the way they used to be done 200 years ago. The “Brächete” is the process of turning plant fibers such as linen and hemp into textiles. This ancient art is brought back to life on the last Wednesday in September – this year on 29 September 2021 – but visitors can expect even more. In addition to the traditional handicrafts, there will also be regional specialties such as fresh “Züpfe” braided bread, cheese and deep-fried “Schlüfchüechli” pastries for sale at the market stalls.
Cheese Market Huttwil
A weekend full of traditions – and lots and lots of cheese, of course. In October 2021 national cheese-makers will display their products and invite visitors to taste and purchase their exquisite specialties. The attractive accompanying program includes local handicrafts and traditional musical entertainment.
shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival
Once a year, Bern shows off its pink side! During ten days in October Switzerland’s largest short-film festival screens around 300 outstanding current films from national and global filmmakers. The screening venues are also extremely creative, with locations including everything from the French Church and “cuddle cinema”, where the films are projected onto the ceiling, to circus wagons. The festival is rounded off by numerous festivities and culinary highlights.
Calling all cycling fans! Things will get rolling in October 2021 when the Bern Radquer biking competition with the EKZ CrossTour and the Allianz Ride & Race kick off around the Weyermannshaus outdoor swimming pool. Both elite cyclists and hobby bikers can participate in the different categories. Plus, there is even an event for the younger generation! Kids and youth can enter the Kids-Cross and race around a section of the pro course and experience what it feels like to be cheered on by enthusiastic spectators. It’s defintely a bikefest for the entire family.