Six super reasons to visit Bern this weekend

Most people don't need a reason to visit Switzerland's capital. But, just in case, we've got 6 super reasons why you may want to stop by this weekend...

Six super reasons to visit Bern this weekend

1. shnit International Short Film Festival

From humble origins as a short film evening in Bern, shnit has grown into a very popular film festival with events taking place simultaneously in eight cities around the world – from Cape Town to Cairo, New York to Moscow.

Dubbed “a premium venue for the exhibition and promotion of short films”, shnit runs for 11 days and showcases over 200 films of every genre and style. Although opening night was on Thursday, this weekend has a packed programme spread across more than 10 venues. Learn more

2. Rendez-vous Bundesplatz 

The spectacular lightshow that is Rendez-vouz Bundesplatz returns this weekend for its eighth outing. Watch as the Swiss parliament building is lit up by a mixture of animation, light, sound and storytelling. This captivating crowd pleaser lures in more than 500,000 visitors each year – and why not? It’s free, right in the heart of Bern and sure to be enjoyed by the whole family.

As always, the lightshow has a special theme and this year’s edition celebrates the 75th anniversary of ‘The Little Prince’ by telling an abridged version of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s well-loved novella. Performances run daily from October 19 until November 24 with showings at 7pm and 8.30pm, and additional performances on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9.30pm.

3. Cyclocross World Cup

After an eight year absence, the UCI Cyclocross World Cup returns to Switzerland, and, for the first time, the world’s best cross riders will meet in the nation’s capital Bern. A unique course has been built around Europe’s largest open air swimming pool (Weyermannshaus) and organisers have promised fast and thrilling races with lots of corners and technical sections. Think of a muddy, super intense assault course/triathlon event – but on bikes.   

The main event is for the professionals and takes place on Sunday 21 October, but there’s also races for children, youths and hobby riders planned for Saturday too. More information can be found on the official website

4. Art Workshops for kids and teens

Let your children’s inner artist run free at the Kunstmusuem’s Cool Kids’ Classes this Saturday. The classes are run in English and Russian, and are set up to allow participants to draw, paint and sculpt.

Suitable for 6-14 year olds, the class runs from 10:30AM until noon and costs 10CHF. More details are available on the museum's website.

5. The Indonesian Food Bazar

Fancy trying something a little different this weekend? Then the Indonesian Food Bazar could be for you. With a variety of popular dishes as well as a mixture of traditional specialities, clothes and accessories for you to enjoy, the family-friendly bazar runs from 11AM until 4PM.

We recommend you try the Sate Ayam – or chicken satay skewers – and make sure to get some Bumbu Kacang -peanut sauce – with it (see photo above). Taking place in Gümligen, this event is just a 10-18-minute journey (depending on which bus/train you take) away from Bern central station.

6. zoom in Festival

The 'zoom in' festival for improvised music celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, organisers have invited 45 musicians from all over the world to play 15 concerts at various locations in Bern – including Bern Cathedral and the Museum of Communication. 

Known as the hub of contemporary improvised and experimental music in Bern, this year’s festival features a blend of more established international acts and exciting up-and-comers. Headliners on Saturday night include English saxophone player John Butcher and Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies, as well as Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj. Get an idea of what to expect in the video above.

Read also: IN PICS – Switzerland's 11 stunning Unesco World Heritage Sites





For members


Could Switzerland ever become a country with just one language?

The novel idea that Switzerland could one day have just one national language is explored in a new Swiss movie — with shocking, but very funny, consequences.

Could Switzerland ever become a country with just one language?

Call it a film of horror or fantasy— and, depending on which side of the linguistic divide you live, you may be right.

The new movie, called “Bon Schuur Ticino” has just opened several days ago but is already a huge hit.

Blame it on democracy

The film’s premise is this:

A referendum to choose just one national language, instead of the current four, plunges the country into a state of emergency, when French becomes the only official language.

That is, only the Swiss-German and Italian parts are in a state of emergency — French speakers are quite happy about the new rule.

The plot centres around a 56-year-old Swiss German, who doesn’t speak a word of French.

Since he works for federal police, he is sent to Ticino to disarm a resistance group of Italian speakers, which is fighting against the new law.

This is the film’s trailer:

Wait, could this actually happen in real life?
The movie’s two premises — multilinguism and referendums — are the backbone of Switzerland’s culture and democracy.

That much is based on facts.

To date, nobody in Switzerland has seriously suggested to eliminate three national languages, leaving just one.

But what if a group of disgruntled citizens collected enough signatures on a petition to bring this issue to a national vote?

Theoretically, it is possible.

In reality, however, the federal chancellery has to verify and approve all popular initiatives to ensure that no trivial or bizarre proposals end up being voted on.

For instance, years ago, a group of people who clearly had nothing better to do with their time, launched a proposal entitled “Let’s raze the Alps so we can see the ocean.”

It goes without saying that this proposal got nowhere near the ballot box.

Now, let’s assume that the language issue would get some traction and it would actually end up being voted on.

There is no way that the Swiss German majority would vote to adapt French as the country’s main language. And Italian speakers would not be thrilled about this either.

The six francophone cantons (Geneva, Vaud, Valais, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, and Jura) would not have enough sway against the 20 other cantons to claim victory at the polls.

So in this case at least, fiction and reality will not merge.

You can reasonably expect Switzerland’s linguistic landscape to remain the same.

READ ALSO: How did Switzerland become a country with four languages?

If you are interested in watching this movie, it opened in the German and Italian – speaking parts of the country on December 8th.

It will be shown in the French-speaking areas from February under the title “Ciao Ciao Bourbine.”

How are movie-goers reacting to this film’s premise?

As one social media user summed it up, “It would be an absolute horror for all German-speaking Swiss.”

“From now on, all Swiss comedies should be made in French only,” another said.

Perhaps the most telling comment, however, came from the Foreign Affairs Minister Ignazio Cassis, who attended the film’s premiere.

“If there were only one language left in Switzerland, it would of course be the only truly Swiss one: Romansh!”