Street Parade Zurich

August 2, 2014
Zurich, Switzerland
Photo credit: Ale Streets via Flickr Creative Commons
Verein Street Parade, Zurich
Crowd
    Intimate to                 Massive
Attendees
    Local to                 International
Participation
    Spectator to                 Immersive
Preparation
    Simple to                 Complicated
Transformation
    Quiet to                 Life-Altering

Overview

Inspired by Berlin's Love Parade, Zurich has created a day-long moveable feast for those hungry for music, dancing and good vibes.

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Festival Stats
  • Crowd
  • Attendees
  • Participation
  • Preparation
  • Transformation

Location

Street Parade's route starts at Utoquai in the neighborhood of Seefeld. From there, the party then heads around Lake Zurich before reaching its terminus at Hafendamm Enge. 

Chip's take

I have many friends who love electronic music, but they hate crowds. I think…

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I have many friends who love electronic music, but they hate crowds. I think that’s like loving Hawaii, but hating the beach. Crowds help dampen some of the excessive techno at a techno-fest and that’s a good thing. But, there are also bad things with crowds like drunken fools, excessive litter, and just an overall messy atmosphere. Somehow the Swiss have been able to create a moving music festival for one million people and do so with efficiency and aesthetics being preserved.

It’s hard to imagine Zurich being a place where people let loose and get groovy, but on this fine summer day, there’s no cooler place in Europe than the second Saturday in August in this Swiss city. Come dressed to impress, as Street Parade gives you an excuse to try on your weirdest masquerade outfits.

 

Come dressed to impress, as Street Parade gives you an excuse to try on your weirdest masquerade outfits.

Photos & Videos From the Festival

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Essentials

Spend the weekend as there’s all kinds of parties throughout Zurich’s neighborhoods. About 100 mega- and smaller-scale parties are held in and around Zürich over the Parade weekend, from Friday evening right through to the early hours of Monday morning.

Admission is free but drinks are expensive. Everyone loves a free festival, but just know that the vendors believe you have some extra change in your pocket, so they charge a little more for the drinks. Bring your own full water bottle.

Come a few days early and enjoy Zurich. If you love art and architecture, you’re likely to love Zurich. There’s also great hiking in Uetliberg and nearby waterfalls at Rhine Falls.


Practicalities

Zurich (ZRH) is a relatively easy airport to access from anywhere in Europe. The entire Street Parade route can be easily reached on foot from the city centre or the central station.

The event kicks off at 1 pm on the second Saturday of August and goes till about midnight. The 2.4 km–long Street Parade route begins at Utoquai in the Zürich neighbourhood of Seefeld and heads around the lakefront via Bellevue, Quaibrücke and Bürkliplatz, arriving at Hafendamm Enge at around 10 pm. The fun continues at the after-parties at Mythenquai, Bellevue, Bürkliplatz, Rentenanstalt and Limmatquai until midnight. 

Details

While Berlin’s Love Parade no longer exists, the spirit of that infamous, raucous, big-hearted street gathering lives on in one of the most surprising places: middle-of-the-road Zurich. While Love Parade lacked the logistics expertise, Street Parade Zurich has perfected the science and the art of throwing a day-long musical parade with 30 love mobiles, 600 DJs or acts, and 7 stages for one million people.

A Celebration of Peace, Love, and Music

Inspired by a television report on the Berlin Love Parade, Zurich mathematics student Marek Krynski asked the city police authorities for the authorization to organize a “demonstration in support of love, peace, freedom, generosity and tolerance” in June, 1992. 

Marek then went off to Berlin to learn the ropes at the Love Parade and was literally overwhelmed. Back in Zurich and full of enthusiasm, he managed to get the official go-ahead for the demonstration without too much trouble. The stage was now set for the first Zurich Street Parade.

In the course of an hour, you might meet people from a dozen different countries and, in some cases, find middle-aged parents enjoying the festivities along with their young adult children. Electronic music may be a way of expressing a political and lifestyle philosophy, but it’s also a great way of connecting with people you care about.

But, before we dive deeper into the Street Parade, let’s give a posthumous shout-out to the Love Parade which doesn’t live on our Fest300 list, although it should be in our Hall of Fame. The Love Parade as a popular event originated in 1989 in Berlin right around the time of the unification of East and West. It grew into the largest moving music festival in the world and led to similar Love Parade-like events happening in more than a dozen large cities around the world. One famous picture from the parade depicts people sitting and dancing on street lamps, trees, commercial signs and telephone booths, which gave the event the tagline, "the greatest amateur circus on earth." Unfortunately, the Love Parade was plagued by challenges with the local governmental authorities, a lack of funding, and some weak logistics planning. On July 24, 2010, a crowd rush at the Love Parade caused the death of 21 people, with at least 500 others injured. As a consequence of this, the organizers of the festival announced that no further Love Parades would be held and that the festival was permanently cancelled.

Enter: Street Parade

The Street Parade continued the Love Parade’s demonstration of freedom, generosity and tolerance. The world and the music have changed considerably since the first Street Parade in 1992. All the same, electronic music is more current than ever before and the Street Parade has taken over the mantel as arguably the most highly regarded street music festival in the world. Despite the tough demands it has to meet, the non-profit-making Street Parade Association has succeeded in retaining the basic concept – the "soul" – of the event and of the former techno movement. It is probably partly because of this that international star DJs still appear at the Street Parade free of charge.

A Beautiful Location

Lake Zurich provides the stunning backdrop for this street festival that started with just 1,000 participants and now has added a comma and three zeroes. Because the route is scenic on the lakeside, it does not interfere with local businesses (one of the big challenges with the Love Parade) and maybe because it’s in such a relaxed and lovely setting, there’s less litter or ugliness than you’d typically see at an event this size. This event couldn’t have grown into the size it is without attracting a very international crowd. Matthias Roeingh (aka Dr. Motte, who helped organize the original Love Parade) said, “Music knows no boundaries or nationalities,” and Street Parade is a great example of this principle as, in the course of an hour, you might meet people from a dozen different countries and, in some cases, find middle-aged parents enjoying the festivities along with their young adult children. Electronic music may be a way of expressing a political and lifestyle philosophy, but it’s also a great way of connecting with people you care about.