Celebrations in Switzerland for 150th Anniversary of Winter Tourism
Published on 03/12/2014 by Finest Holidays - Luxury Travel
Every winter sports holiday should be a celebration. Lots of people choose a luxury chalet to celebrate Christmas or welcome in the New Year. As 2014 ticks into 2015 though all of Switzerland will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first winter tourism in the Swiss Alps.
St Moritz is particularly associated with this celebration, but all the Swiss resorts – Verbier, Davos, Klosters, Gstaad… – are involved in the celebrations this winter. Zermatt will host a series of events of its own as it celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn on 14th July, 1865.
Unbelievably, Alpine winter tourism as we know it was born from a bet. Back in the autumn of 1864, Johannes Badrutt the founding father of Badrutt’s Palace hotel, was saying his farewells to some guests from England. Johannes challenged his departing guests to try a winter trip to the Engadin valley, promising them that they’d love it, and if they didn’t he’d pay their bills.
Knowing only the winters of the British Isles – cold, damp and miserable for the most part – the party were doubtful. However, they took up Badrutt’s wager and arrived back for Christmas. They liked it so much that not only did Johannes keep his cash, he had guests until Easter.
Millions have learned the lesson since 1864-5. Alpine winters may be cold, but they’re sunshine-packed, fresh and deliriously beautiful too.
If you’re travelling to St Moritz this winter – after raising your ski helmet to Johannes and his intrepid British guests – look out for books, a film, and a magazine dedicated to the anniversary among many other media commemorations.
On 5th and 6th December the celebrations get their official start with a Friday of spectacular ski racing, followed by a fashion show on the Saturday – celebrities are promised – a light show by artist Gerry Hofstetter and an open air concert from Xavier Naidoo.
Gerry Hofstetter will be back in St Moritz in January and February, for a series of shows featuring huge projections, light shows, music, choreographed vehicles and skiers, all topped off with a fireworks display.
The women’s World Cup downhill race on 24th January will honor the British pioneers of winter sports. Swiss-owned ski schools will be joining the nationwide Nostalgia Week of 2nd – 7th February. A skeleton bob competition on the Cresta Run takes place on 6th February (there’s more to winter sports than skiing), and the track will be opened to the public for the first time. The World Series Final of the Omega Monobob championships also comes to St Moritz – would you believe it’s the 125th anniversary of the first bobsleigh run too – on 16th – 22nd February.
There are too many events to list in full here – the celebrations are going on all winter and take in everything from gourmet dining to fireside talks and sight-seeing plane trips. Visit the St Moritz resort website or the official anniversary pages at the Engadin-St Moritz site. Or ask the hosts in your luxury chalet.
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