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Swiss to celebrate National Day with flagwaving and fireworks

Swiss flags will be flying high on August 1

(Keystone Archive)

The Swiss will be staying up late on August 1 for fireworks and mountaintop bonfires as they celebrate the founding of the confederation.

For many, the day's celebrations start with a hearty brunch offered at hundreds of farms across the country. Some celebrants flock to lakeshores and riversides to grill their own food, invariably lugging along cheap sausages, which have become symbolic of the holiday.

Crowds gather in town squares in the evening for gigantic fireworks displays, and children march in lantern processions as crowds in the valleys and alpine villages wait for bonfires to light up the mountaintops.

Among the special events, a celebration will be held at 3pm on the Rütli Meadow, the cradle of the Swiss Confederation. A folklore parade and open air concert precede the fireworks in Interlaken. St Moritz's own orchestra will give a concert in the "Kurpark", followed by entertainment and dancing in the village's car-free zone.

It was only in recent years that August 1 was declared a national holiday.

In 1891 the idea of a national day was conceived, 600 years after a legendary pact was signed on the quiet meadow above Lake Lucerne, signalling the birth of the Swiss Confederation.

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