You would think that after living here for a number of years we would have heard our fair share of yodeling. But we have only heard it up close and personal one time… when we went to a restaurant in the mountain resort of Gstaad and a guest there started yodeling, on the spot, right there in the middle of lunchtime. It was great! Since then however, nothing…
So when i picked up the leaflet for the 47th Bern Kantonal Yodel Festival, i decided we need to go. Unfortunately, hubby was away so just the son and i went, last Saturday, 16th June 2012.
It was held in Schwarzenburg, a lovely village up a mountain, about 30 mins from Bern by train. It was a warm and sunny day, perfect for such an event.
Once off the train, we were greeted by a large sign post, directing us to various parts of the festival. i had expected one centralised stage and some stalls around it. But this was a fairly large event. The whole village was the stage. There were many locations where competitions were being held. There was a fair with food stalls and other stalls. All the restaurants were opened all day and doing brisk business.
On the train up to Schwarzenburg, there were ladies wearing the official blue polo t-shirt selling the little entrance badge and the program for the day. They actually saw us and walked by us, not offering us their wares. i was a little annoyed that they didn’t think we were their target audience. So i approached them and asked. That’s when i found out why they passed us by.
It would cost me CHF20/. for the entrance to all the competitions and i would also have to pay the same price for the son, a 8-year old child! She sort of agreed it was silly and expensive to charge children that price but she said they were told that as long as the child is big enough to sit by themselves, they would need a ticket too. (So be warned if you intend on going to this next time.)
So needless to say, i did not buy the entrance to the competitions. The lady was nice enough to tell us that there will be groups all over the village performing spontaneously as they sit and have a drink/food. When we arrived, i asked again at the Information Counter, hoping to hear that maybe there is an exception in one of the locations. But no. However, again the lady was helpful and told us that we could go up to the castle and listen to the Alphorns. It was an open-air competition and even though we could not get into the “official” sitting area, we could stand around outside and listen. There you go, you don’t always have to pay to listen to good music 😉
Here’s a visual summary (photos and videos) of our day at the Jodlerfest:
This is the first group we saw, yodeling at an outdoor eating area:
i absolutely loved seeing all the traditional costumes almost every other person was wearing. (You can also see the costumes in the videos.) There was a large variety of traditional dresses worn by the women, depending on which region they came from. The men mostly wore the white shirt under a short-sleeved black jacket, often lined with white and red strips. They usually pin the badges of all the yodeling festivals they have been to on their jacket collars.
Some women also wore fancy headdresses. But i only got a shot of some in hats (see the traditional costume picture above) and this one of the girls wearing a cute little black hat. i adore how the little girls have their hair done up. i remembered having my hair done up exactly like that, when i was a kid, for my Godmother’s birthday, if memory does not fail me. (Visit the Swiss National Costume Association for some history and more pictures.)
Here’s a video of the kids singing:
Of course we saw and heard the Alphorns. i think it’s really neat how the horn can be taken apart and packed into a convenient-to-carry bag. In the video below, you can just see the “official” seats on the right. This gives you a sense of how far/close we could stand on the outside of a low wall.
Here’s a video of an all men group singing (i did not managed to catch the earlier part on video but they were singing about some lovely lady – if my Swiss German proves to be right.):
Last but not least, we ate as one should when at such an event. There is normally a big tent set up for food and one or a few restaurants run the place and that’s where most people would eat. Otherwise, you also have the choice of getting some small snack and munching along your way. We went an hour or so after the lunch rush so there weren’t many people eating at that time.
It was a great day out. We took our scooters and it was great cos’ we could scoot around the village and get to the different locations faster. Maybe something for you to consider if you do decide to visit one of these festivals. That’s right, there are yodeling festivals all over Switzerland. Just google for them, i’m sure you will find one near you 😉