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It's time again for another of Zurich's very unique holidays this weekend. Next to the traditional Sächseleuten (an annual festival that marks the beginning of spring) there is the Zürcher Knabenschiessen that always takes place on the second weekend of September.

Literally the name Knabenschiessen means "young boys shooting competition" and this is where the origins of this holiday lay. In 1889 the first Knabenschiessen took place in Zurich. About 500 boys aged 13 through 17 took part in the competition. The winner received a necklace of coins and after the competition all participants marched through the city with flags and drums. Some drinks were offered to them but I honestly do not know if they were alcoholic or not. :)

In its early years the Knabenschiessen took place in the Sihlhölzli but was moved in recent years to the Albisgüetli. Also the prize has obviously changed. Who would want a necklace of silver coins these days?! Another change in the event was the admission of girls into the competition in 1991. Today, all girls and boys between 13 and 17 years old who are living in the city of Zurich or go to school there are allowed to participate.

The shooting competition of young boys and girls is still one of the central events of this holiday. However, the competition has lost some of its fame to the fun fairs, rides, booths with food, music events and more that now shape the image of the Knabenschiessen. Many people simply visit the Knabenschiessen to enjoy the atmosphere and spend some time with friends.

Knabenschiessen - Robert Schmid  /
For more information about the Knabenschiessen consult the official Knabenschiessen website.



  1. Thanks for sharing, I didn't even know that!!

    I'm in Zürich this week-end so I'll try to have a look at this event! :)

  2. We just to love Knabenschiessen when I grew up in Zurich. Not only for all the fun fairs but also because you got a day off school.


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