Events in Switzerland to look out for in 2014

After seeing its fair share of unique events last year, including the Zürifäscht and Eidgenössisches Schwing-und Älplerfest (I don’t even want to try to translate this), it’s time to have a brief look at which events will be having an impact in Switzerland this year.

Film Festivals

Switzerland will see its fair share of film festivals in 2014, starting this month with the Solothurner Filmtage (23.01-30.01) which focuses on Swiss movies and starts off the festival calendar. In summer, fantasy film fans will be able to attend the Neuchatel International Fantastic Film Festival (04.07 – 12.07) before the stage is set for the two biggest festivals in the country. The Festival del Film Locarno takes place in the beautiful town from August 6 to August 16. One month later, the Zurich Film Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary starting September 25 and running through October 5.

Movie fans should definitely mark these dates in their calendars as they often represent a chance to see movies that struggle to find distributors and of course, to soak in a little of Hollywood glamour.

Music Festivals

As every year, the festival summer in Switzerland offers choices for everyone. The most renown festival internationally, the Montreux Jazz Festival, takes place from July 4 to 19. Indie fans will get to see their favorite acts in St. Gallen (26.06 – 29.06), Zurich (28.08 – 31.08) and on the Gurten (17.07 – 20.07), while hiphop an rap fans can enjoy their idols in Frauenfeld (10.07 – 12.07) and Biel (22.08 and 23.08).

Of course, the festivals are not only the only chances to see popular musical acts these years. Pop sensation Justin Timberlake is stopping by Zurich on April 15 for his world tour. Rock Legends Metallica will play in Basel on July 7th. The Backstreet Boys will be in Zurich in March. Of course, more stars are bound to announce their concerts throughout the year.

World Cup Public Viewing

With the Football World Cup taking place in Brazil this year, Europe benefit from very advantageous kick-off times. With Switzerland being drawn into a group with Ecuador, France and Honduras, I hope our national team will be able to progress into the knockout stage of the tournament. But even without a successful Swiss team, bars and pubs throughout the country should be showing the games on their TVs, creating spots for public viewing. It remains to be seen if large-scale screens will be set up in cities, but it has been done before and might be repeated this summer. This would give sports fans the opportunity to watch the games with likeminded people, especially if it coincides with terrific summer weather.

These are just some of the more interesting events taking place in Switzerland this year. Of course, should I come across anything else interesting, I’ll make sure to let you know.
As you might have read, I’m changing posting days to Tuesday and Thursday, so I’m back the day after tomorrow with the 31st chapter of my story. Until then, I remain

sincerely yours,
Albert

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An Elusive Hero in 2013 (Recap)

As 2013 ends tomorrow, I’d like to wrap up the year with a short review of my posts this year.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who has followed and read my posts since I started writing on “An Elusive Hero” in March. The feedback and support I’ve received has been invaluable for me to improve. Wednesday will look forward to the plans for 2014. But until then, let’s recap some of the most interesting posts from this year.

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What’s going on in Zurich

During the last weeks, university work has been catching up with me, which leaves with little time to write. But luckily, that should change after Wednesday, when an important deadline passes. You can expect more content in the next weeks, including my favorite books and movies of the year as well as at least three more chapters of “An Elusive Hero”.

As for the part of my blog where I talk about Switzerland, my work has prevented me from travelling around as much as I’d like to. But I’d like to tell you about a few interesting happenings going on in the next weeks.

The Ice-Rink on the Polyterrasse

In the next two weeks, the Polyterrasse near the ETH main campus will feature an ice-rink for young and old. The rink is 15 x 30 meters big and offers guests the possibility to skate at one of the best spots of the city.  It is open mostly in the late afternoon, except on weekends, where it opens between 2pm and 10pm on Saturday as well as 2pm and 8pm on Sunday. Skates can be rented on location. The Ice Rink is supposedly staying on the Polyterrasse until November 30, the night of the Polyball, so you have two weeks to check it out!

The Polyball

The Polyball is the traditional ball at the ETH Zurich, which has been held for the last 130 years. This year, the festivities take place on Saturday, November 30, with the motto “New York Nights”. The detailed program of the party, which starts at 7 pm and runs through 5 am the next morning, can be found on their official website. However, the cost of attending is pretty high, as tickets cost 89.- for non-students if ordered before the event and 94.- on the evening itself. But since it is an event full of glamour and tradition, it might be worth the money.

The Christmas Market at Bellevue

And as the month comes to a close, the Christmas feeling will be in the air all around the city. As many German and Swiss cities, Zurich also has its own Christmas market, serving winter specialties like “Glühwein” and candy canes. It’s location on the newly built Sechseläutenplatz puts the market in an accessible downtown area. Anyone wanting to get into the Christmas spirit early will have ample opportunity start November 28 running through December 24.

That’s whats going on in Zurich in the next few weeks. If you have any more tips, please let me know!

Sincerely yours,

Albert

 

Tennis, Books and more!

This week is quite a busy week for me, so my post today will be a bit shorter than usual. A few interesting events are going on in Switzerland in the next few days, so I wanted to give you a quick overview of all the interesting experiences you can gain.

Let’s start off with some sports, as the ATP Swiss Indoors Tournament will be played in Basel this week. The tournament is one of the most important indoor tennis tournaments and will host some of the greatest players around this year. Roger Federer, one of the greatest players to ever hold a racket, will be appearing in his hometown as well, hoping to keep the title in the country. Stanislas Wawrinka, who has played an amazing season thus far, will try to do the same. Other fantastic players fighting for glory are Richard Gasquet (FRA), Juan Martin del Potro (ARG) or Nikolai Davydenko (RUS). For anyone interested in sports and tennis specifically, the tournament is the best chance to see it in Switzerland!

As everyone reading this blog regularly knows, I read a lot. And this weekend a fantastic event for book lovers takes place in Zurich as the city hosts “Zürich liest” (Zurich reads).
Over 100 events can be visited in Zurich, Winterthur and the adjacent regions. It starts this Thursday and runs through Sunday. I’ll be visiting a reading from Swiss-American author Stefan Bachmann on Friday at 8pm at “The Bookshop by Orell Füssli”, so maybe I’ll catch you there. Other notable events include the opening of the festival on Thursday at the Kaufleuten and a reading by the nominees for the Swiss Book Award on Friday at the Literaturhaus Museumgesellschaft. However, it is a predominantly German-speaking literature festival, so it might be difficult for non-German speakers to follow all of the action. A lot of the events are aimed at children, so families will find their fair share of opportunities to learn more about the magical world of books. For a full schedule, check out their website.

And last, but not least, the Basler Herbstmesse starts on October 26. The traditional fair has been around for over 500 years and offers it’s 1 million visitors various events. There will be Basler specialties, fun rides and the whole city will be full of interesting booths. The fair runs until November 10. I’ve never visited it before, but plan on checking it out this year, if I find the time. For more information, check out this website.

So that’s it from me for today. If you have any other events to recommend, please let me know on Twitter or in the comments!

Have a great week.

Sincerely yours,

Albert

Sweet Spots at the University of Zurich

With the new university semester taking shape and almost a month old, I’m spending more time at its wonderful halls of learning. After talking to my friends and asking them for ideas on what to write about, they kindly gave me the idea to write about my favorite spots at the University. Should you ever visit the city of Zurich, the university (and the neighboring Technical institute) is one of the most impressive structures to admire. The main building was built in 1914 and therefore is almost 100 years old.

The centerpiece and one of the hubs of student life is the Lichthof (which can be translated into “light court”), a large, spacious and bright atrium. Thanks to an impressive glass roof, this atrium is extremely bright at all times, keeping students from noticing the incoming darkness and light. According to one of my friends, it has also been the place of unspeakable tragedy, as one worker once fell through the roof and met his end on the marble floor of the university. However, it remains unclear if this story is real or just one of the many urban legends surrounding the school. The Lichthof is the most frequented meeting and hangout spot for students from all subjects thanks to its perfect location.
Adorned with carvings from Greek mythology and a headless statue of a Greek Goddess, it also offers impressive art to admire. The eye-catcher however is the famous “Blue Bed”, which was placed in honor of the first female law student at the university.
The Lichthof is the best place to take in the atmosphere of the university while enjoying a beverage of your choice, before heading up to my favorite study spot at the campus: The tower.

The tower of the university is home to a various number of rooms:  a den to sleep and relax, the language learning center, a computer room and the university staff restaurant. I prefer to study from the elevated heights of the university because of the view it offers.

2013-09-30 16.01.21My terrible photography skills and the grey autumn weather don’t do the view any justice. On a sunny and clear day, visitors can see the Uetliberg and the lake from the rooms in the tower. It offers a welcome break during the long study days right before exam time. Originally, a model of the university depicts the building to own two towers, but those plans never materialized. So the tower stands tall on its own.

In summer, I often leave the central campus to travel to the Irchel campus, about 10 minutes away from the main building. The campus, which is the home of the medical students and other laboratory-based subjects, lies in the heart of one of the biggest parks of Zurich, the Irchelpark. At it’s center is the pond, which invites visitors to take a break and enjoy the scenery. A trail around the park makes the location very popular among runners, while a football field and tennis courts offer other recreational possibilities. From April to September, I spend many of my breaks relaxing at the campus, even though I don’t have any classes there.

Should you plan on checking out the university campus in Zurich, these are definitely my favorite places to be. Let me know if you have any other suggestions!

Hope you have a great week!

Sincerely yours,
Albert

 

Zurich Film Festival Recap

The ninth Zurich Film Festival ended yesterday and so it’s time to write up a short recap of the happenings around it. According to their official press release, a total of 71’000 visitors attended the screenings around the city. That marks an impressive growth of 22%. Like I’ve mentioned before, I got the chance to see two movies. Also, I’ll take a short look at the prize winners, although I wasn’t able to catch them.

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Zurich Film Festival Preview

This Monday is a big day for two reasons. Firstly, the new university semester has started and that means I’m back in school until around Christmas. The campus is full of wide-eyed first-year students clutching their cellphones nervously looking for the right rooms and trying to get a grip of our widespread university. Also, the beginning of the new semester is always similar to New Year’s Day as the gym was much fuller than during the holidays with many students trying to follow their resolutions for the school year. But my adventures at my university (I only had one class today) are not what I want to talk about today.

Instead I want to focus on the next event bringing glamour to the city I live in: The ninth Zurich International Film Festival running from September 26 to October 6. If you’re planning on catching a glimpse of Hollywood and other world-class filmmaking in Switzerland, you should definitely head over to the official website to find out which movies are playing and how to get tickets for them. What can you expect?

Photo source: Official Zurich Film Festival Press photos.

Photo: Official ZFF Festival Press Photos

Unfortunately, I’m not an expert on foreign and independent films, so I can only talk about the films I’ve either heard about or I’m going to try to catch during the two-week festival. But first, the logistics: The movies will be screened in various cinemas throughout the city, with the Corso at the Bellevue and the cinemas at the Sihl City taking prominent roles. Movies are split into various sections: International Feature Film, International Documentary Film, German Language Feature Film as well as Documentary Film Germany/Austria/Switzerland, Gala Premieres and Special Screenings. Finishing off the line-up are Brazilian movies, movies for kids and screenings of past classics.

Among the ten competitors for the International Feature Film category, the only film I’m familiar with is the drama “Fruitvale Station” whose main actor Michael B. Jordan received brilliant reviews in the American Press. The movies follows a fateful day in the life of 22-year old Oscar, whose resolutions to make himself a better man coincide with a homicide in Oakland’s Fruitvale Station. But reading through the descriptions, there are other films that seem interesting to me. “Parkland” follows the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy exactly 50 years ago and features an impressive cast including Jacki Weaver, Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton and former Disney superstar Zac Efron. “Puppy Love” is a French movie about a shy teenage girl who finds an unlikely friend and might make my already extensive list of great coming-of-age movies even longer. “Traumland” on the other hand is a multicultural drama set in Zurich itself surrounding the 18-year old Mia, a Bulgarian prostitute trying to make ends meet in one of the most expensive cities on the planet. This year’s competition will be very intriguing and with some of the stars and directors making an appearance at the festival, you should have a look now.

The Gala Premieres feature all almost all of the movies I’ve been desperately waiting for. If you’ve followed my Twitter feed (which you should!), you would have seen how I’ve been longing for these movies to come to Switzerland all summer long. The most prominent movie is probably “Don Jon”, the first movie written and directed by Hollywood A-Lister Joseph Gordon-Levitt and starring him with Scarlett Johansson as the female lead. The comedy about a young man finding the one while battling this porn addiction is intriguing to say the least. “The Way, Way back” has some high profile actors such as Steve Carell billed, but it is a sweet coming-of-age story similar to the vein of “Adventureland” starring Jesse Eisenberg and pre-Twilight Kristen Stewart. Instead of the theme park, the location is the local swimming pool.

The Spectacular Now movie poster Photo: IMDB

The Spectacular Now movie poster
Photo: IMDB

But the movie I’m most excited about is “The Spectacular Now”. The movie is (what else?) a coming-of-age story about high school golden boy Sutter trying to get his life on track after being dumped by his girlfriend and with graduation looming. It is written by the immensely talented Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter, the creative minds behind the wonderful romantic comedy”500 days of summer” (starring the aforementioned Joseph Gordon-Levitt) Both of them are also responsible for the screenplay of one of my favorite books “The Fault in Our Stars“, so naturally I’m eager to follow all of their work. Reviews for “The Spectacular Now” have been, well, spectacular with the movie having a 91% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But maybe I’m the only one really excited about those movies. For everyone else, there are some higher profile movies showing for the first time in Switzerland. “Diana” attempts to portray the life of the iconic British princess (and according to reviews fails). “Gravity”, the new Alfonso Cuaron picture, impressed with some breathtaking trailers from outer space and features George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Other movies featuring prominent Academy Award Winners include “The Immigrant” (Marion Cotillard), “Liberace” (Michael Douglas, Matt Damon) and “The Railway Man” (Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman).

Hugh Jackman Photo: Official ZFF Press Photos

Hugh Jackman
Photo: Official ZFF Press Photos

A special mention also goes out to “Prisoners” starring Hugh Jackman. The actor best known for his portrayal of Wolverine is the biggest name at the festival and will be in Zurich on September 28 to receive the Golden Icon Award for this year. He is sure to draw a big crowd, but if you’re lucky and show up early enough, you might catch a glimpse of one of Hollywood’s most charismatic stars. The Career Achievement Award goes to producers from the British Working Title Films, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, responsible for films such as Notting Hill, The Big Lebowski, Les Miserables or Rush (premiering at the ZFF).

I hope I was able to give you a short preview of the festival. If you want to know more about the films in general, head over to their website and check it out for a more comprehensive overview! Let me know if you have any other recommendations for me!

As always, please like, share and subscribe!

Sincerely yours,
Albert