One month until the House of Switzerland opens

June 20, 2012, 2 Comments

Only one month to go: on 20 July 2012 the House of Switzerland will open its doors in London. For the following 24 days there will be a little splash of Swiss red at the heart of the capital, next to London Bridge. The Red Zone is where it will all happen: the square between Southwark Cathedral and the Thames transformed into a scarlet arena for open-air concerts, big screens, and medal ceremonies, cheese-rolling, Swiss wrestling, and chocolate tasting. Something every day and for everyone. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too, at least online if not in person.

With so much going on in the House, I thought I’d pick up some of the highlights that I’m looking forward to (ie things that don’t involve me speaking in public):

  • Swiss food: this I have researched fully, having tasted everything when I visited the House last month. From real raclette to divine chocolate desserts, I don’t think anyone will leave hungry.
  • Bernese Games: over the weekend of 4-5 August the Bernese will bring some very traditional sports to town, such as Schwingen (Swiss wrestling) and Steinstossen (shot-putting for the very strong). Fancy a go?
  • Art & Music: all manner of things to help us get in the mood – improvised jazz, blues, street artists, a puppet workshop for kids, and the human beat box.
  • Medal ceremonies: every Swiss medal will get its own public ceremony at the House. So here’s hoping Mr Federer can work his golden magic across the whole Swiss Olympic team.
  • Swiss National Day: an all-day affair on 1 August to celebrate Switzerland and the 100th birthday of Europe’s highest railway station at Jungfraujoch. Expect lots of red and white – and chocolate.

I will be in the House most days but often behind the scenes, writing blogs (which will be posted here), creating a buzz, doing radio interviews and generally helping Swiss-British relations. But every Wednesday (25 July, 1 August and 8 August), I will out and about in the lounges and the square, so feel free to come along to get a book signed or just say hello.

Before all the fun begins in earnest, I’ve helped create a London Treasure Hunt with a Swiss twist. Don’t worry, you don’t have to live in London to take part or solve the clues: this is a virtual hunt that is open to everyone. There will be seven clues to solve and some truly great prizes on offer. It all starts on 13 July and will run for seven days, with a new clue every day. All of it will be on my Facebook page and of course on the House’s Facebook page.

In case you don’t know anything about the House of Switzerland, in short it’s a cultural project from the Swiss Foreign Office that takes place in every Olympic city for the duration of the Games (and a little bit more). It’s one of the few national Olympic houses that is totally open to the public and free, whether you want to sit and have a sandwich watching a big screen or come to one of the concerts. Or climbing the Eiger to try and win a special tour to Switzerland that’s coming up next year (more on that another time).

Thirty days and counting. See you in the House.

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