Sechseläuten is a Zurich holiday celebrating the end of winter by burning a symbolic snowman called the Böögg. Depending on how fast it’s head explodes predicts how hot the summer will be. This festival is always on a Monday, usually the third Monday in April, with a big parade of locals in traditional dress during the day and the bonfire starting at 18:00, thus the “six bells” of the title.
In 2017, the child’s parade is on Sunday 23 April at 14:30. The main parade is on Monday 24 April at 15:00, the Böögg burning starting at 18:00 at Sechseläutenplatz near Bellevue. At around 20:00, anyone can grill sausages on the bonfire.
Route & General Info
Here is the route. To watch the parade, we typically stand near Bürkliplatz, where there is room to spread out. The section along the Limmat is a more picturesque setting, but it is where important people sit and are filmed by TV crews.
To watch the Böögg burn, you can squeeze in with the crowds near Sechselautenplatz. But we like to stand on the ferry docks near Bürkliplatz, where we get a clear view across the water. Yes, it’s a bit far away but you can still see it burn and see/hear the explosions.
The event is so crowded that you cannot get close up to the Böögg. So my kids have enjoyed going by earlier in the day to see it being set up before the crowds circle.
Here is the Böögg on fire!
On the proceeding Sunday afternoon, the Sechselauten Kinderumzug, aka Children’s Parade, kicks off the festivities. We find this parade a bit more interesting for children to attend. This was the second year that we have attended and have enjoyed it both times. Each time we have viewed the parade from Burkliplatz and arrived ~20 minutes before it started to get a front row seat. The parade goes in rain or shine, the children often in clear rain jackets so you can still see the costumes.
The children’s parade is a miniature version of the main parade on Monday. Both parades have lots of people in traditional outfits people often passing out candy, marching bands, and horse drawn floats. The children’s parade last about an hour and ends with horses pulling the Boogg along in wagon.
There are lots of local bands marching.
Each group represents a different guild.
Rides and Amusements
Starting on the Saturday before, there are fair rides and food booths setup at Bürkliplatz. We always take a ride on the Ferris wheel and a spin on the bumper cars.
Views of Zurich from the Ferris wheel.
Cross your fingers for a fast burn this year and a hot summer!
It’s best to come by public transportation. If you arrive at the Zurich HB, you can simply walk down the parade route. Many of the local tram routes are rerouted to bypass the parade routes, so consult the detour signs as necessary.
If you must come by car, you could park near the Hafen Enge (Mythenquai 21, 8002 Zürich) or Mythenquai swimming area (Mythenquai 87, 8002 Zürich), which have metered lots that allow you to park at least 4 hours. Of course, it’s a busy weekend and these spots could fill up fast.