Sechseläuten and the Burning of the Böögg in Zurich

The Boog © Geoff Pegler

Photo Geoff Pegler

Sechseläuten, Zünfte or Guilds’ Parade, Children’s Parade


Monday 20th April 2020


Traditionally the third Monday of April in Zurich is Sechseläuten and that means a holiday (or at least a half day holiday for most people). This year Sechseläuten will be taking place on Monday 20th April 2020. Many of the streets in central Zurich will be shut to traffic and a festival mood takes over the city.

The Guilds, representing ancient trades and craftmen, will be parading down the streets dressed up in costume, on floats, in horse drawn carriages and even walking with camels… It’s an amazing event full of colour music and merriment so do go and watch this Zurich tradition celebrating the end of Winter and culminating in the burning of the Böögg.

10 Facts about the Böögg and Sechselaeuten

Sechseläuten literally means the ringing of the 6 o’clock bells. The festival dates back to Medieval times when they celebrated the first day of Summer working hours in all the guildhalls in Zurich.

10 Facts about the Böögg and Sechselaeuten

Sechseläuten Zurich 2014 by Geoff Pegler

It was stipulated by law that people should work as long as there was daylight – but during the Summer working hours all work inside had to cease when the church bells tolled at six o’clock. Everyone was happy to change over to Summer hours – and what a good excuse for a celebration!

Burning of the Boog     Burning of the Boog

So what is the Böögg and what does it represent?  Well the Böögg is rather like a giant snowman and sits about 10m high on a pole on a bonfire stack which is positioned in the middle of Sechseläutenplatz in Bellevue.

Burning of the Böögg Zurich

The Burning of The Böögg and Weather Predictions

At precisely 6pm on Monday it will be lit and depending on how long it takes to burn it predicts how good (or how bad) the coming Summer will be. The quicker it burns, the better the Summer. According to legend, if it burns in under 6 minutes, it will be a sunny Summer, if it takes between 6 and 10 minutes it will be a cloudy Summer, between 10 and 15 minutes is means a rainy Summer and more than 15 minutes it could actually snow during the Summer!

However, the Böögg is notoriously bad at getting it right, so don’t worry too much if it is a slow burner! It is more likely to mean that the weather was colder or damper prior to burning, and subsequently the stuffing inside the head was slower to ignite.

Sechseläuten and the Burning of the Böögg in Zurich

The Parade of the Guilds

If you’re planning on going down on the Monday the route that the Guilds follow starts in Bahnhofstrasse and goes via Bürkliplatz into Bahnhofstrasse (Contermarsch) along Uraniabrücke and on to Limmatquai finishing at  Sechseläutenplatz. 

The Kinderumzug on Sunday

If you can’t make Monday then make sure you come along on Sunday instead when the Kinderumzug, or children’s parade takes place. Starting at 2.30pm this is a procession where the children, dressed up in costume parade down the streets and steal the show.

Sechseläuten and the Burning of the Böögg in Zurich
Photo Geoff Pegler

More information and Resources:

Children’s Parade:  (Kinderumzug): Sunday at 2.30pm

Guilds Procession: Monday afternoon (half day holiday in Zurich)

Burning of the Böögg: Monday at 6pm at Sechseläutenplatz in Bellevue

*** Future Dates for Sechseläuten ***

Sechseläuten 2021 – will take place on 19th April 2021 

For more information on Sechseläuten click here

Or see the video of  a previous Sechseläuten celebration in Zurich here:

See our 10 facts about the Böögg and Sechselaeuten here.

10 Facts about the Böögg and Sechselaeuten

Photos by NewInZurich and Geoff Pegler


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Comments (2)

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  1. Heather Moore says:

    Went to see the parade today, quite a spectacle. Wondering if anyone can help answer some questions generated by the kids who were with us

    1) What guild/trade did the Arabian-style horsemen and camel drivers represent?
    2) Why did so many or the marchers have pretzels hung around their necks?
    3) What is the Boog actually made of? Looks like plastic but the kids felt that wouldn’t burn very well or be very ‘green’!

    • newinzurich says:

      Not sure about questions 1 and 2 – does anyone else know?
      However, in the interview with the Böögg maker and Jo Fahy from WRS (see link in article above under “More Information and resources”), he says it is constructed on a wooden frame which is stuffed with wood shavings and natural fibres, pasted over with glue and covered in paper. Oh, and stuffed with over 100 firecrackers!

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