December 21, 2017
At the traditional “Lichterschwimmen” event, at 6.00pm precisely, hundreds of tiny lanterns set sail from Stadthausquai on an atmospheric journey down the River Limmat. Every year, students from schools in the Canton of Zurich make the lanterns and then have the honor of launching their creations on the water.
This enchanting event enthralls visitors and locals alike. Organized by Zürich Tourism and supported by the City Department of School and Sport, this festive greeting is the perfect way for Zürich Tourism to thank the people of Zurich for their hospitality. Zürich Tourism also serves hot punch and something sweet for onlookers on Weinplatz. “It is our way of saying thank you to the people of Zurich for their hospitality toward our national and international visitors.”
The History of Lichterschwimmen
In 1962, Hansruedi Obi, a teacher from the Ilgen School in Zurich, was looking for a way to celebrate the Swiss tradition of “Schulsylvester” ‒ the last day of school before Christmas ‒ a little differently with his class and to also surprise the townspeople. He and his pupils made tiny boats with candles inside, which they launched from the Stadthausquai at 7.00 o’clock on Schulsylvester morning. In 1991, Jürg Inhelder, a primary school teacher at the Balgrist School, took over the by now much-loved tradition with great personal commitment. Every year at Advent, he and his pupils make 800 little lanterns – precisely the amount he can fit, carefully stacked, in his car.