Zurich’s Magic at New Year’s Eve
Updated: Dec 31, 2022
As the year-end approaches, we look forward to the festivities and the celebrations that follow. It’s not just about the music, sumptuous food on the table, a drink in your hand as you watch the fireworks go live, it’s also about the people you spend those last few hours of the year with as you bid farewell to the last of the fleeting moments of the year.
Over the years, New Year’s celebration has become a synonym to the celebration of achievements, our struggles, and farewell to lows of last year and start the new one with high spirits. And there have been many such places where you can go to be part of the celebration. Some look to the comfort at home, while others seek the beat of the music at a party, and then some plan holidays to make the celebration more special.
I have had my fair share of ways to mark the end of a year but the one that stuck out for me was time spent at Zurich bidding farewell to the year gone by.
Every year, Zurich organises a celebration at the eve of New Year. It’s a public celebration which doesn’t require a ticket or any entry fees except few areas which are hosted privately and require a ticket for someone to access. The celebration as is called – Silversterzauber or New Year’s Magic is the biggest New Year Eve’s party in the whole of Switzerland. And believe me; it is nothing short of magic especially when you add the chilling winters of Switzerland to the entire scene.
I vaguely remember that it snowed last night and that’s why the temperature was down that day. We had a good view of Lake Zurich from our Airbnb apartment based in outskirts of Zurich. We had been in Zurich for the last couple of days and the last leg of our beautiful journey which started in Paris was New Year’s Eve celebration at Lake Zurich. Knowing that the festivities would start somewhere in the Afternoon and would go well beyond midnight, we had a rather lazy start to our day.
This celebration happens at Zurich Lake basin spread from Limmatquai up to Utoquai and over Quai Bridge across General Guison-Quai. But my recommended spot would be somewhere around Burkliplatz and it’s best to keep a spot at the last hour to get a much better view of the fireworks.
The entire area is dressed in lights and harbours a variety of food stands, bars, and live music at various stage. There are a couple of parts closer to the lake which are for private guests and requires a ticket such as a private heated tent with food and a good view. You can also find small roadside stalls selling some party tit-bits such as neon glow sticks and a headband with lights. After around 8 pm, access to the area by a car is banned and trams also stop running there around the same time. This makes it easier to walk around to explore the area and what it had in store for visitors that night.
As the night grew, so did the cold. While we were prepared for it, I think it was the hot wine and coffee which came to our rescue that night. By 8:30 - 9 at night, the entire area was lively and we could see people dancing and enjoying their time.
Unlike other events we’ve been to in the past, the openness of this one made it stand out of the rest. Because it is harboured on the streets of the city, it doesn’t feel as if you are confined to a particular area. It allows people to move freely to different areas without missing the fun and festivities. One could walk towards either side of the bridge with feeling disconnected to the celebration as there wasn’t just one part to it but many. We found equally good places to have food and plenty of spaces where there was music. An occasional stroll enjoying our hot drinks during that cold night with such festivities was what made this New Year’s celebration in Zurich worth remembering.
There wasn’t a social pressure to always be in a party mood or jumping to the beats of music till the very end or to be seated or restricted to a particular area to enjoy the show. We could quietly admire the young night with our drinks, tap our feet to the music at times, and relax as we enjoyed our time there. Although an occasional streak of pumping beats was a delight in the cold weather as if charging us for the night.
As we came closer to midnight, people started gathering near the lake basin. It’s best to find a good spot looking towards the lake well around 11:15-11:30 to get a good view of the fireworks. We found a good spot near Burkliplatz.
Now right when 10 seconds were left to midnight, the countdown started. Just as the clock struck 12, everyone wished the happiest of a new year and the air was filled with the many such wishes. But the show didn’t start at the stroke of midnight. The tradition says and what followed was that for the first 15 minutes, the church bell rang to bid farewell to the year gone by and welcome the new year. Once that was done, the boats came out in the lake. At first, we couldn’t add up what it was for but right at 12:20 am the magic started.
With all sincerity in my heart, I can guarantee you that the next 15 minutes would take your breath away. The fireworks left us spellbound. In those 15 moments, the fireworks won our hearts multiple times and we still couldn’t get enough of the beauty of it all. And to top it all, at the time they would give a break of a second or two to come out with even much bigger and colourful firework and our excitement would rise further. It lasted till 12:30 am and that’s when everyone started cheering and once again bid happy new year to their loved ones. I guess that’s why they called it Zurich’s New Year’s Eve Magic.
Oh, one important thing - personal fireworks are banned and bursting one can land you into trouble. So I’d suggest you leave this part to the authorities and just enjoy the moment.
The celebration lasts till 3 in the morning and trains run late that night to ensure you reach your home. So you don’t have to worry about figuring how to find your way back.
After some time, we also bowed out and made our way back to the apartment. We weren’t just leaving the party, but the next day we bade farewell to Zurich as well. It was time to go home. Zurich was a perfect ending to not only our journey which started 10 days back at Paris but also to the year that had just gone by. The celebration at Zurich Lake basin provided a perfect means to enjoy through the night as we watched our dreams and aspirations of last year flying high like those firecrackers and turning into something beautiful and wished for a better tomorrow with even bigger dreams.
Happy new year everyone!
To new adventures and travel stories in 2020 Proscht!