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 events in and around Bern you don’t want to miss!
Bern Fasnacht Carnival
Switzerland’s third-largest carnival of fun and frivolity attracts thousands of carnival participants and revelers. From 27 to 29 February 2020 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 27 February 2020 near the Käfigturm (Prison Tower).
International Jazz Festival Bern
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 17 March to 23 May 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 on Mother’s Day at the Hotel Schweizerhof Bern, from March to May jazz fans will definitely get their money’s worth.
Bern Museum Night
On 20 March 2020, 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.
Get your bicycles out! For an entire weekend in Spring, it’s all about the Bernese locals’ favourite, two-wheeled mode of transportation. On 21 and 22 March 2020, 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!
Let it Beer Burgdorf
The “Festival of Regional Beer Culture” takes place on 27 and 28 March 2020 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!
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 24 April until 3 May 2020. 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.
From 25 April to 2 May 2020, 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.
On 8 May 2020 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 9 May 2020, 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 16 May 2020. 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.
Swiss Women’s Run Bern
Girl power in Bern! The starting gun will go off on 14 June 2020 signaling the start of the 34th edition 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.
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 20 June 2020 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 26 to 28 June 2020 –, 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.
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 15 to 18 July 2020.
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 2020, 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 6 until 8 August 2020, 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.
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 13 September 2020 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.
shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival
Once a year, Bern shows off its pink side! During ten days in October, this year from 15 to 25 October 2020, 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.
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 30 September 2020 – 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. On 5 and 6 October 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.
Multicolored, inspiring and creative, the Rendez-vous Bundesplatz at Parliament Square enchants more than half a million visitors every fall. From the end of October to the end of November, 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 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!