How to spend 1 August: ideas for celebrating on Lake Maggiore

Switzerland will be celebrating! If you’re still not sure what to do on 1st August, take a trip to the south and find out how to celebrate National Day in perfect Ticino style. From traditional brunches on the farm to a very Swiss picnic on a meadow, Ascona-Locarno has a few ideas for the Confederations birthday.

How to spend 1 August at Lake Maggiore: if the whole Confederation celebrates 1st August, what’s so special about celebrating it on Lake Maggiore?

Flags flying in the gardens, on the balconies, in the windows and along the streets, fireworks, bangers, sparklers and fountains are traditions shared by all the cantons, as is watching the speech given by the president of the Confederation on television, or listening to it on the radio, and the bells that ring in the party at exactly 8 pm across Switzerland. But other traditions are unique and special. If you’ve never celebrated 1st August in the Lake Maggiore region or its valleys, here are some good ideas for celebrating National Day in Ascona-Locarno.

Hiking with a typical Swiss picnic: whether with family, friends or your better half, a walk in the mountains is always a good idea in good weather. 

Prepare an impeccable Swiss picnic for the occasion: dried meat, Ticino sausage, cervelat, alpine cheese, Gazzosa (typical Ticino soda) and Ovomaltine bars are a must. The vegetarian alternative? Crispy bread with grilled seasonal vegetables, potato salad, tomatoes, dried fruit and a nice fruit salad. And don't forget the Swiss flags! 

Brunch on the farm: the region’s farms open their doors to welcome you for a traditional brunch, one of the nicest ways for families to celebrate National Day. With so many places to try, finding the ideal spot is easy:

brunch in the region’s mountains for passionate hikers or brunch on the farm among cows, horses and goats, much to the delight of children. Whatever the case, the main feature of these celebrations is a delicious meal prepared by hand with love and typical local products. The kids can learn to socialise with the farm animals while you enjoy the tractor display. Come and see how we celebrate being Swiss!

Grill at the grotto: grilling is a typical summer and 1st August tradition, but it needs a lot of preparation and a suitable place. 

If you want to enjoy some juicy grilled ribs without too much organisation, the grotto is the right place for you. Enjoy your barbecue without stress and with a nice glass of Merlot del Ticino. Cheers!

Boat tours on the lake: a boat tour on Lake Maggiore is a great idea for celebrating 1st August, especially for families. It's a fun and exciting way to admire the region's landscapes, accompanied by the lapping of the water and the breeze blowing across the lake. 

What's more, each port has something to discover and is a good starting point for exploring the area on foot. The moorings of San Nazzaro, Locarno, Ascona and Porto Ronco are full of character, but don't forget to stop at the Brissago Islands: These two pretty islands in Lake Maggiore are home to plants that cannot be found anywhere else in Switzerland. It is not for nothing that they are home to the only botanical garden on an island in Switzerland.

Community celebrations and bonfires: in the valleys, the lights go out to make way for the lighting of extraordinary bonfires that are a reminder of the expulsion of foreign bailiffs in the 14th century.

Legend has it the fires also served to frighten off the barbarians who had already tried to attack the Helvetians, and who fled in fear from the reflections of the bonfires on the lake, convinced it was a sign that the end of the world was approaching. This is why the tradition of bonfires has long been widespread, but from the first National Day it assumed even greater importance and significance. In Vallemaggia the bonfires are lit in the riverbed and accompanied by outdoor celebrations and barbecues. Community celebrations in the valleys are characterised by a convivial and friendly atmosphere, music, folklore and typical local products. There’s plenty of polenta, competitions for the whole family and gastronomic festivals. 1 August brings everyone together.

One for all, all for one: switzerland’s motto speaks volumes about the spirit of collaboration on which the Confederation is based.

It’s better together. Share your ideal National Day with #myasconalocarno on social media and spread your Swiss pride around the world. Yes, even if you aren’t Swiss, because you should be proud of having celebrated 1 August as a true confederate citizen!

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