Fireworks across Switzerland have brought a day of celebration to mark the founding of the confederation to a spectacular end.This content was published on August 1, 2001 - 21:12
Festivities were staged throughout the day in alpine villages and big cities, with farm brunches, museum tours, processions and mountaintop bonfires making up the bulk of the celebrations.
In 1891 the idea of a National Day was conceived, 600 years after a legendary pact was signed on the quiet Rütli meadow above Lake Lucerne, signalling the birth of the confederation.
Eight of Switzerland's finest museums threw open their doors to the public for free, including the Swiss national museums in the Château de Prangins, in Schloss Wildegg, and in the Landesmuseum in Zurich.
In Wildegg, traditional celebrations took place at the castle. Visitors to the colourful Museum of Music Boxes in Seewen were also invited to take a free guided tour.
For many, the day's celebrations started with brunch offered at hundreds of farms across the country. Some celebrants flocked to lakeshores and riversides to grill their own food.
On Wednesday evening, people gathered in town squares for fireworks displays. In some valleys and alpine villages, as crowds waited for bonfires to light up the skies, children marched in processions lighted by lanterns.
In Interlaken, a folklore parade and open air concert preceded the fireworks.
St Moritz's own orchestra gave a concert in the "Kurpark", followed by entertainment and dancing in the village's car-free zone.
Early celebration of the holiday on Tuesday left four people injured in Basel. In the most serious incident, a person aboard a boat on the Rhine River was hurt after celebrants on the river bank lighted firecrackers.
Just in time for August 1, Switzerland's biggest national flag was unfurled on the cliffs over the Lake of Lucerne, according to the Vitznau Tourist Office. The city tried to unfurl a huge flag last year, but it was destroyed by heavy wind.
Vitznau is hoping the new flag, which measures 900 square metres, will make it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Another holiday marker was a Zeppelin flight over Lake Constance, during which passengers were able to enjoy the view from an altitude of about 2,000 metres.
The Swiss pioneer Earl Ferdinand von Zeppelin undertook Switzerland's first helium flight in 1908, when he flew to Lucerne.
swissinfo with agencies
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