Few cities rival the old-world charm of Bern, Switzerland’s vibrant capital city.
The metropolis serves up history at Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and welcomes outdoor revelers to Gurten mountain, offering breath-catching views. It’s little wonder the city attracts so many major meetings, including—this September—Rheuma Preg 2018, an international conference gathering attendees from the fields of reproduction, pregnancy and rheumatic disease. Planners would be wise to plan their own event around one of the city’s dynamic cultural events, and here are five that stand out.
This colorful February celebration dates back to the Middle Ages and is still going strong today. The event kicks off fancifully, with the symbolic liberation of a bear from a medieval tower, and continues with flair, as Guggenmusik-Cliques (bands of musicians), floats, clowns, magicians and costumed revelers fill the streets.
Bern Grand Prix
An astounding 30,000 competitors participate in this May racing event—the largest in Switzerland. Those attendees not interested in running more than 10 miles through Bern and its historic Old Town can join the throngs of cheering spectators.
Buskers Bern Street Musical Festival
Musicians from not only Bern, but all over Switzerland and Europe, perform during this August street festival in the heart of Old Town. And despite the name, there’s more than music on the menu: Dancers, theater performers and even acrobats also put their talents on display, drawing some 70,000 visitors annually to enjoy the show.
Just outside Bern in Sumiswalk, this throwback springtime market features local crafts, music and food. At more than 160 stalls, hawkers in traditional garb sell ceramics, flowers, handwoven wire baskets, local produce, baked goods and a whole lot more.
In October and November, the city’s historic Federal Parliament Building becomes a stunning spectacle, as elaborate nightly light shows dance across the structure’s façade. The riveting show doubles as a history lesson; images tell stories about important figures in the Reformation movement, including Martin Luther, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli.