The Major Festival – Switzerland’s National Holiday in Zermatt, Täsch and Randa

The Swiss National Holiday on the First of August is celebrated in a big way in the upper Mattervalley communities – and especially in Zermatt. There is much on offer in the Matterhorn village: street party, music, speeches and exceptional fireworks. This draws guests in large numbers from all over Switzerland and abroad.

The Swiss National Holiday in Zermatt is something very special. The street party in the evening turns the centre of the Matterhorn village into the melting pot of the nations. Food stands lure everyone to the long benches and tables, where the locals and guests create a colourful mixture – Chinese, Japanese, French, Swiss, British and many more from other nations. And then the Swiss also come together: Romands from French-speaking Switzerland and other central Swiss, Basel, Zurich and Bern natives, young and old. They all sit comfortably together. With the sounds of folklore, dancing, eating and drinking it is easy to have a great party. A Zermatt insider once said about his First of August experience: "I have never before experienced a festival where the locals and guests celebrate together so easily and so long." And he added: "The First of August in Zermatt – I am always in Zermatt on this day; I do not want to miss this festival." A Chinese guest added: "I did not know that someone could celebrate in such a relaxed way in Switzerland."

The Fireworks in Zermatt

The Zermatt fireworks are unique. They are broken down into two parts. First, Bengali flames burn high above Zermatt in the Turuwang to the west of Zermatt. These are placed in the cliffs by Zermatt mountain guides and firemen under the direction of the Zermatt mountain guide Harry Lauber in the afternoon and then also lit by these men. The Turuwang remains intensively lit for many minutes – the cliffs take on bizarre light and shadow forms. The result is a quiet and very special romantic setting.

After the Bengali flames have burnt out, the rockets of the great fireworks ascend into the heights from a hill next to the Triftbach in different colours and bouquets. Thousands of guests and locals follow this nighttime spectacle in the heavens.

Information for Zermatt

  • Programme in German, English and French available in the Zermatt Tourist Office
  • Monday, 31st July 2017: Street party 7 to 11 pm At 4 pm a cannon shot announces that the street party takes place.
  • Tuesday 01st August 2017: 10-12 am National Holiday with celebration at the lake of Stellisee (2,537 m). In case of bad weather, the programme takes place on the Kirchplatz in the village of Zermatt.
  • 10.15 pm: Large fireworks. Good observation points:  

Tips for the First of August in Zermatt

  • Book early: If the First of August falls on a Friday or Monday, it is worthwhile booking early.
  • Take along warm clothing. Even if the temperatures are warm during the day, the nights at 1,600 m are cool.
  • Carry cash? As a general rule, cash is used at all of the food stands on the Bahnhofstrasse.
  • Light fireworks far enough away from other gatherings of people.
  • Dry weather could mean that the fireworks are cancelled (cantonal ban).

Information for Täsch

  • Programme in German, English and French available in the Täsch Tourist Office
  • 4 pm: Bar opens by the EHC Täsch
  • 5 pm: Church service for the nation
  • 5:30 pm: Start of the canteen by the EHC Täsch
  • 7:30 pm: Festival begins with bell ringing. Welcome remarks by the mayor, musical entertainment with local and outside music groups.

Information for Randa

  • Programme in German, English and French available in the Randa Tourist Office
  • 4 pm: Celebratory ringing of the bells in the Randa church
  • 10 pm: Fire on the heights in the mountains above Randa