Wilhelm Tell Festival

W5199 Highway West
New Glarus, WI 53574


The Wilhelm Tell play is set near the end of the 13th century. The gradual decline of the Holy Roman Empire, of which the Swiss territory was a part, had enabled the Habsburg family to ascend to power in Austria and Switzerland.

The Waldstatte (the forest cantons which are the original three Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden) pledged a symbolic allegiance to the Emperor years before, though they retained much of their autonomy. The Austrian House of Habsburg, desiring more control and higher taxes, sent a corps of officials to the Swiss Territory to generate higher revenues for their estates.

Discontentment grew due to the increased oversight and reduction of freedom. The presence of these foreign bailiffs became more and more despised. Over time the Swiss territories developed a plan to unite and attempt to regain their autonomy.

Wilhelm Tell, as legend has it, lived in a small village in this part of Switzerland. Tell was known across central Europe for his superior marksmanship with his cross bow. At one point in the play (and in history, as legend says), Tell is forced by the foreign bailiff Gessler to shoot an apple from his son's head in the town square in Altdorf in front of the entire community. Tell succeeds, and later in the story, he is able to extract his revenge on Gessler, and in the process has a hand in freeing Switzerland from the yoke of the Austrian rule.

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster
Please use "Flag This Place" to alert us about content that is inappropriate or needs immediate attention. Nothing you submit will be shared with other site visitors.

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »

Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today


  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in New Glarus
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner