Although it can be traced back to older customs, the children’s festival in St Gallen has been held since 1824 when it arose out of city school reforms. Nowadays it usually takes place every three years at the beginning of summer, but the date is not fixed. The educational authorities organise the festival and choose its theme; the participants are schoolchildren in the public education system. Business and private life bow to the demands and dynamics of the event, since it is a city folk festival celebrated by children together with their parents, grandparents and friends. Thousands of visitors gather to watch the procession of children and local government officials through the town to the festival square. There the school classes take turns to entertain the crowd and food is provided.
Over the years the festival has evolved. 100 years ago it focussed on the products of the embroidery industry, with girls and young women wearing white embroidered dresses. With the economic crisis after the First World War and the new ways of thinking which emerged in the late 1960s, the embroidery industry all but disappeared. Today’s festival is designed with the latest generation of children and teenagers in mind.