Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Sylvesterzauber is Zurich's New Year street festival and fireworks display, held along the banks of the river and lake. It involves a cheerful mixture of meat, cheese, beer, gluhwein, fireworks, europop and precision Swiss timing. 

For us, Sylvesterzauber involved getting stuck into Gluhwein and Wurst before contemplating dancing to dubious europop at outdoor sound stages. I am far too Englishly reserved to actually participate, but watching the Zurchers of all ages throw some shapes was a joyful and bizarre experience. Maybe next year. 

At precisely 23.45 all of the city's church bells rang out in minutely choreographed unison to mark the end of the old year, and rang in the new one, which was an atmospheric and rather lovely moment. This was followed by the much anticipated (and breathtaking) fireworks display, lasting exactly 20 mins, and including a humorous false finish at about 16 minutes in, which wasn't fooling anyone (except me). 

The Swiss do not go in for the British 'oooh' and 'aaaah' approach to firework appreciation, preferring more exuberant cheering and whistling at particularly impressive moments, with ooh and ahh reserved for use by small children at very pretty bits. There was no evidence of house key jingling, which is presumably only applicable as an accompaniment to Christmas songs rather than as a general sign of approbation - duly noted.

We wrapped up with more Gluhwein, Raclette and Madonna mega mixes before a long walk to a tram home.

Here we are on Munsterbrucke with obligatory glasses of prosecco watching the build up to the fireworks.

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