Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival (ESAF 2022)
This August, Pratteln will host Switzerland’s biggest sporting event, the “Eidgenössisches Schwing- und Älperfest,” or ESAF (Swiss Wrestling and Alpine Festival)—the national championship of “Schwingen” (Swiss wrestling) as well as two other traditional Swiss sports, “Hornussen” and “Steinstossen” (stone throw). The ESAF only takes place every 3 years in a different region of Switzerland, and this is the first time in the event’s 120-year history that it comes to the Basel region.
Participants include about 280 wrestlers, 380 participants in the Hornussen competition, and 72 stone throwers. A special arena and festival village has been set up for the event between Pratteln and Frenkendorf. Additionally, the Hornussen competitions will be taking place in nearby Giebenach.
The event begins with an open-air music festival on Thursday evening featuring Swiss musicians Kunz, Les Touristes, Lo & Leduc, and Megawatt. The program on Friday includes the first rounds of Hornussen competitions, a reception of the flags of the participating regional organizations at Schloss Pratteln, a parade from Pratteln Dorf to the festival area from 14:00-17:00 and additional live concerts and other entertainment programs from 18:00-03:00.
On Saturday, the wrestling competitions will start at 7:30 with the entrance of the Schwingers and the first bouts from 8:00; the various rounds will continue until 17:15. Also on Saturday, the stone throwing competitions start at 9:00, with the results in two of the three categories (20 kg and 40 kg stones) at 16:00, and the second day of Hornussen competitions starts at 9:30 and ends with the announcements of the results at 16:00. The sporting competitions are followed by an entertainment program and live concerts from 17:30-03:00.
On Sunday, wrestling competitions begin at 7:45 and end with the final bout at 16:45. Additionally, final round of the stone throwing competition in the heaviest category—with the so-called “Unspunnenstein” that weighs a whopping 83.5 kg (184 lbs)—takes place from 14:45-15:15. The event ends with the crowning of the new “Schwingerkönig” (Schwinger King”) at 18:15 and the presentation of the prizes (live animals and other goods; participants do not receive monetary prizes).
Organizers are expecting a total of about 400,000 visitors to the festival grounds in Pratteln, including about 51,000 in the arena. There is very little parking available, so if you plan to join the festivities, public transport is highly recommended. The SBB, BVB, and regional bus service providers will be running special trains, trams (tram 14), and buses (lines 70, 80, 81, 82, 83, and 84) to Pratteln to accommodate all visitors, and the train station in Pratteln has been expanded for the occasion. From the train station it is about a 20-minute walk to the festival grounds. Also note that if you are traveling in the area for other reasons, you should try to avoid the area, including some of the major roads, on that weekend as many roads will be crowded or blocked entirely.
Tickets for the open-air festival on Thursday are still available through https://www.ticketcorner.ch/event/esaf-open-air-festgelaende-eidgenoessisches-schwing-und-aelplerfest-pratteln-im-baselbiet-15034192/ and are CHF 54.05, half price for children. Tickets for access to the arena to watch the wrestling competitions and the stone throwing finals with the Unspunnenstein are sold out. However, you can enter the festival grounds and its numerous attractions, including the "Gabentempel" where all the prizes are displayed, and enjoy most of the entertainment program as well as the Hornussen competitions and the stone throwing competitions on Saturday without a ticket and soak in the atmosphere that way.
Festgelände ESAF Pratteln