Summer and autumn customs.

There are not festivals in every season all over Switzerland - but there are festivals in every season somewhere in Switzerland. Anyone wishing to experience the full calendar of customs can look forward to an exciting Tour de Suisse.

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Summer customs

There are many different local festivals in summer as well. Some of them are linked to the Leben auf der Alp celebration of Alpine life, which is heralded in many places at the beginning of summer with a jubilant ascent of the Alps and ends with a festive Alpine descent and other events at the end of the summer. On 1 August the people of Switzerland celebrate Swiss National Day, which is a real rarity in that it is one of the few holidays which is exceptional because it is not just regional. Up and down the country there are speeches, firework displays and parties, all accompanied by the waving of flags and the lighting of lanterns and beacons in the mountains. The regional highlights in the summer months also include festivals featuring animal entertainment, with the Walliser Kuhkämpfe cow fighting festivals in Valais, the traditional shepherds' festival on the Gemmi mountain pass with dancing, yodelling and flocks of sheep hungry for salt, and the Marché-Concours in Saignelégier, a showjumping tournament with Freiberg horses and a spectacular procession. The increasingly popular midsummer festivals in the Lake Geneva area start from the middle of August onwards – in Taveyanne (Gryon), at Lake Lioson (Les Mosses), in St-Cergue and Isenau (Les Diablerets). There are church services, concerts, folk dances, beauty pageants for cows and torchlit processions. These events are a must for lovers of the mountain culture and folklore of the herdsmen and dairy farmers where they can soak in the cordial atmosphere, enjoy the unhurried pace, and sample a wide range of tasty regional products. The summer is also high season for wrestling tournaments, mountain wrestling festivals and traditional costume and yodelling festivals which echo to the sound of alphorns and Swiss folk music accompanied by the waving of flags – much to the delight of the folklore fans, tourists and the walkers who just happen to be passing through.

Autumn customs

The autumn is traditionally the time of harvest and thanksgiving. Farmers used to sell cattle and poultry in the autumn and would then pay the farmhands their wages for the work they had done in the summer. Therefore the autumn was also the time to spend money and party. There was plenty of opportunity to do so, with markets, restaurants, dances, stalls, and much more besides. To this day many of these autumn traditions have retained their market character. Examples include the many wine festivals in Vaud, Valais and Ticino, the picturesque Saint-Martin feast and market in Chevenez, and the many chestnut festivals in Ticino and the Bregaglia valley.

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