Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Why I like Zurich: They know how to Party?

It might be surprising to learn that Zurich, and Switzerland in general, throws great parties; they don't have that reputation. But it's true.

Zurich throws several huge parties every year. They close many of the downtown streets, re-route the public transport system and set-up stages for entertainment. Yesterday was the annual Sechseläuten, in the summer there will be the Street Parade, there are fireworks at New Years and every several years they throw a really huge ZurichFest.

Anyway, the party organization is what most impresses me, as a city (and party) planner. Zurich leases out refreshment stand spaces (with temporary electric power feeds!). Public transport is organized to bring people to the event and often admission tickets include free transit. Best of all, after the party the streets are spotless. (The Street Parade has over a million people and probably they drink ten million beers/sodas etc. The outdoor party ends at midnight and by 6 am the streets are perfectly clean - no trace of the 12-hour+ party!)

In contrast it seemed like every big party in downtown San Francisco was completely unplanned. Too little public transit, garbage sitting around for days, ... Of course Zurich is better organized in these things throughout the year so it's no surprise that it works better for public events. Better city party planning is something we need to learn in the USA - it's one of the things that makes city life more enjoyable. Interestingly, San Francisco probably spends as much on its parties as Zurich
on a net cost basis since Zurich parties generate income from refreshment stand leases.

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