After already exploring Zurich's old quarter during our first full weekend in der Schweiz we were keen to see and do something even more “touristy”. We both felt with only two weeks under our belt in the lovely Switzerland we had an excuse to dive into the local culture and explore.
Zurich Carnival 2013 was our chance to do just that. We did a bit of research and knew that the parade started on Sunday at precisely 2.31pm (another example of fantastic Swiss precision) where it made its way along the main shopping street in Zurich – Bahnhofstrasse. We thought we would head down and check it out and I was secretly hoping for some typical Swiss fare, namely cheese and chocolate!
The food did not disappoint! Before the parade had even begun Mike and I tried raclette on bread (basically a pretty satisfying cheese toastie), bratwurst mit Senf (one of the best sausages I have ever had), and Gluhwein (not my favourite thing in the world…)! All that sustenance soon warmed me up for the minus 5 not-really-parade-watching weather.
The town centre was buzzing which was quite a change from our previous Sunday´s exploring where all shops were shut (standard on a Sunday in Switzerland) and the only activity that could be seen was inside cosy cafes and restaurants with the locals maximizing Sundays for what God intended – good old R&R and socializing with friends.
Carnival day was quite a contrast and not just because people were out on the actual street but also because everyone as far as the eye could see was dressed up in crazy, elaborate and extremely well executed fancy dress costumes (see piccies in slideshow at bottom of post).
We had a wander around a few town squares where various bands were playing and got ourselves in position on Bahnhofstrasse for the parade to begin. There were a huge variety of people watching the parade – families, older couples, teenagers, as well as Swiss locals and tourists – it was a real community atmosphere which as the parade went on got rowdier and rowdier.
Thankfully Mike and I were stood far enough back to avoid tonnes of confetti being thrown EVERYWHERE. I was also thankful for not being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time as we saw a poor girl with gorgeous long hair being picked up by a guy in a scary witch costume, put into a wheelbarrow and completely covered in hay… he then proceeded to then cart her off in her new mode of transport and when we next saw her reunited with her family she looked like she was related to a scarecrow… thankfully as it was carnival she took it all in good spirits! With my curls I'm not sure I´d have been too pleased!
It was a great parade with some completely bizarre, and at times freaky, costumes. The atmosphere was fantastic and as a way to spend a Sunday afternoon I felt it gave me a peek into the real traditions and community of Zurich.
Mike Stuart moved to Switzerland in 2013 when his better half Zoë landed a job in Zurich.