The word “Knabenschiessen” literally means “boy shooting”. This holiday starts on the second weekend of September and lasts until the following Monday. Schools are closed and the city gathers to watch about five thousand teenage boys and girls, showing their shooting mastery in the rifle competition. The one who gets the highest score is called Schützenkönig – “the king of shooters”.
Knabenschiessen is one of the oldest festivals in Zurich, so let’s go back in history! Since the middle of the 17th century Swiss boys would take part in a shooting competition known as “Knabenschiessen”. Two centuries later, in 1899, Zurich Rifle Association (Schützengesellschaft) organized a competition for young boys of Zurich in order to encourage them to join the Swiss army. The first contest took place in Albisgütli, just by the Üetliberg Mountain, and since then it happens annually.
In 1991 girls entered Knabenschiessen for the first time. Six years later, the 15 year old Rachel Goldschmid won the competition and became the first girl to win this traditional competition.
Today the mountainside of Üetliberg attracts enormous amounts of visitors from all over the world. However, only those boys and girls who live in Zurich can take part in Knabenschiessen, that is what the rule says. Anyway, the festival now is much more than just a competition. It includes the colorful parade and the Fun Fair, Chilbi, with the marketplace, culinary stands and even amusement rides and a Ferris wheel!
However, this year the event is cancelled due to safety measures for the Corona Virus but hopefully this great tradition will continue in the next year.
Whether you are a fan of shooting or just want to have a great weekend – come to Fantastic Switzerland.