During February and March it is carnival time or Fastnacht in many towns. Fastnacht celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of Lent, the period before Easter. People wear painted masks and colourful costumes and party in the streets. The Basel carnival is one of the largest and most exciting. Members of carnival associations, called cliques, parade throughout the city with lanterns. Many of the floats and banners carried in the parades bear inscriptions that poke fun at politicians and other public figures or commemorate memorable events of the past year. 
On the third Monday in April, the citizens of Zurich celebrate Sechseläuten, a traditional ceremony to drive away winter by burning a dummy that represents Böögg (Old Man Winter).

 Children's festivals celebrate the beginning of summer. The St. Gallen Children's Festival is the best known. The event, which began in 1824, is held every two years. Up to 10,000 children parade through the streets. 

The Swiss national day is August 1. The day was first celebrated in 1891 to commemorate the pact made by the three original cantons in 1291. It is celebrated with concerts, speeches, parades, fireworks and bonfires. 

  Did you know?
In July, in the Rugen Woods near Interlaken, the citizens present an open-air production of Friedrich Schiller's Wilhelm Tell. The play is about a 13th-century woodsman and his son. The performance involves more than 200 actors and many live animals.
During the second week of September, a traditional shooting contest (Knabenschiessen) for boys and girls 13 to 17 years old is held in Zurich. Girls have been allowed to compete since 1995. On the fourth Monday in November, Bern holds its famous onion market (Zibelemärit). Farmers take over the whole town centre. 

On December 6, children go to bed and await the arrival of St. Nicholas. Good children get oranges, apples and nuts. Naughty children are supposedly carried away in the saint's big sack and told to clean up after his donkey. (Samichlaus, the Swiss Santa Claus, does not have reindeer.) On December 24 the Christkind (Christ Child) comes, bringing the Christmas tree and gifts. Candies and sweet cakes are brightly wrapped and placed under the tree.

January 1 New Year's Day
March or April Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday
May Ascension Day
May Pentecost
August 1 Swiss National Day
November 1 All Saints' Day 
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26 St. Stephen's Day