Bern’s Top Events of the Year
From Museum Night and the Buskers Street Music Festival to the Bern Grand Prix and the legendary “Zibelemärit” (Onion Market), these are the Bern events you don’t want to miss in 2019!
Bern Fasnacht Carnival
Switzerland’s third-largest carnival of fun and frivolity attracts thousands of carnival participants and revelers. 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 7 March near the Käfigturm (Prison Tower).
Bern Museum Night
On 22 March, 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.
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 26 April until 5 May. 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.
On 10 May 2019 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.
Bern Grand Prix
The Bern Grand Prix is Switzerland’s second-largest running race and a first-class sporting festival. On 11 May, 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.
Visit this Bernese-style fashion show. The latest collections from Bern designers will be presented in the streets of the Old Town on 25 May. 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.
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. When? On 15 June 2019.
Swiss Women’s Run Bern
Girl power in Bern! The starting gun will go off on 16 June signaling the start of the Swiss Women’s Run. 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.
50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
The Apollo 11 landed on the moon 50 years ago. Since the University of Bern was also involved in its research and development, the anniversary has special significance for the Federal City and will be suitably celebrated from 27 to 30 June with a festival of science. There will be numerous activities all centered around space travel and exploration, including a “night of stars”, a rocket-building contest for schoolchildren and panel discussions. As they say, “Get ready to blast off!”
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 17 to 20 July.
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, concerts and the official party at Minster Square including the legendary fireworks on the Gurten.
Buskers Bern Street Music Festival
It’s colorful, creative, zany and poetic! From 6 until 8 August, 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. Visitors who want to support this unique festival can purchase a buskers-bracelet onsite, and of course the buskers are always happy if you put something in their hat.
«Hallo Velo!» Cycling Festival
On 18 August, 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!
International reporters will meet in Bern from 30 August to 1 September for the presentation of the “True Story Award”. During the three-day festival, they will describe their work and during public functions will provide insight into their experiences, explain the barriers and resistance they face, recount personal stories and allow the public to gain a new perspective of contemporary events.
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.
10th Anniversary of the BearPark Bern
This autumn marks the ten year anniversary since the bear pit was renovated and the spacious BearPark with access to the Aare river was opened. Today, the three bears of Bern – Björk, Finn and Ursina – can play, swim and climb in their 6,000 m2 enclosure. Various activities for young and old alike are planned at the BearPark to celebrate the anniversary – a day dedicated completely to Bern’s beloved mascot.
Multicolored, inspiring and creative, the Rendez-vous Bundesplatz at Parliament Square enchants more than half a million visitors every fall. From October 19 to November 23, the breathtaking display of light and sound magically illuminates the Swiss Parliament Building. The free show lasts 30 minutes and is presented several times a day.
Zibelemärit (Onion Market)
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 25 November 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!
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!