Switzerland is stunning in winter. Huge snow slopes, beautiful street illuminations, great food, traditional fairs, and Christmas markets are a few of the highlights. Across the country, there are a lot of special events and festivities that celebrate winter to its fullest. This includes winter sporting events such as hockey and sled dog racing, as well as ice sculptures, and snowball fights. Read more about top winter events in Switzerland.
World Snow Festival
Grindelwald (Canton of Bern)
January 21-26, 2019
Every January, Grindelwald plays host to the World Snow Festival. For the past 35 years, this event has become one of the highlights of the winter season, turning the small village into a huge and charming outdoor museum. This wonderful festival was first held in 1983, when a Japanese artist created a Heidi snow sculpture from the popular children’s book. This annual six-day festival brings Swiss and international artists together to create sculptures out of meter-high blocks of snow on the natural ice rink in the village center. Each year, a theme is decided, and the artists must create their sculptures to suit the theme. This festival is well worth a visit, and until the ice melts, the white statues create unforgettable memories for both locals and tourists.
International Hot Air Balloon Festival
Château-d’Oex (Canton of Vaud)
January 26 – February 3, 2019
The International Hot Air Balloon Festival of Château-d’Oex is one of the most spectacular hot air balloon festivals in Europe. Since 1979, this festival has been held every winter in the picturesque alpine village of Château-d’Oex, located in the Canton of Vaud. This colorful festival attracts visitors from all over Switzerland and abroad, and features multi-colored balloons of different shapes and sizes floating against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains and blue sky. The festival’s program includes hot air balloon races and launches, paragliding displays, special events for children, hot air balloon rides, tethered flights, helicopter tours, fireworks displays, and more. A special highlight of the International Hot Air Balloon Festival is the “Night Glow”, a late-night show when about 20 illuminated balloons and paragliders fly under a musical soundtrack. Guests also have a great opportunity to visit the Balloon Museum and learn about the history of hot air ballooning in the historic building of the former Town Hall, which is located right in the center of the village.
St. Moritz (Canton of Graubünden)
February 3, 10, and 17, 2019
White Turf is one of the most thrilling horse racing competitions that takes place in the glorious ski resort of St. Moritz, located in the Engadine Valley of the Canton of Graubünden. Since 1907, this international horse racing competition gathers the best riders and jockeys from all over the world to show their skills and perfect thoroughbred horses, and to race on Lake St. Moritz at a chance to win the largest prize money in Switzerland. This winter event includes various winter sports, like polo, ice cricket, flat racing, harness racing, where horses pull a ski-mounted buggy, and skijoring, where men on skis are pulled along a 2,700 meter track by horses. The winner who collects the most points on all three Sundays claims the title of “King of the Engadine”. This spectacular competition is acclaimed as one of the “Top Events of Switzerland”, and attracts visitors from all over the world, who come to make bets or just enjoy the show.