A Carnival parade in the city centre of Basel

Carnival Events in Switzerland

Carnival Guide for 2018

Carnival is an age-long tradition in many regions in Switzerland. Many old customs are thus revived in many cities and towns each year. There are also Carnival parades and large concerts in numerous cities and towns that provide entertainment. Here in our Carnival guide you’ll find out where you can see something really spectacular this year.

Basler Fasnacht (19. – 22. February 2018)

The Carnival of Basel has been a tradition around for centuries. At 4 in the morning on the Monday after Ash Wednesday, “Morgestraich” begins and cliques with elaborately designed lanterns and tambours march through the city. The various themes from the previous year’s celebration can be seen on the lanterns. There are two large parades: one on Monday afternoon and one on Wednesday afternoon. Cliques and Guggenmusiker (brass bands) dressed in masks and costumes create an especially festive atmosphere. On Tuesday afternoon, the focus is shifted to the children for Kinderfasnacht. They wear self-made costumes and throw out candy as well as confetti. In the evening, numerous Guggenmusiker put on concerts at the Marktplatz, Barfüsserplatz and Claraplatz.

 

Morgenstraich during the Basel Carnival

Solothurner Fasnacht (08. – 13. February 2018)

In Solothurn the Carnival festivities start at 5 in the morning on Fat Thursday with the Chesslete. Here, winter is shooed away with the help of ratchets, bells, horns, etc. In this approximately 135-year-old tradition, participants march through the old town and outskirts dressed in white nightshirts, jelly bag caps, and red scarfs. On Sunday and Monday, there are boisterous parades in Solothurn with Guggen dressed in colourful costumes. In the evening, attendees can find various forms of entertainment including Schnitzelbänkler, Guggen, and other groups or view the Carnival play in the Stadttheater. On Shrove Tuesday, the festivities come to an end with the Zapfestreich.

 

St. Galler Fasnacht (08. – 13. February 2018)

Carnival is also boisterously celebrated in St. Gallen. A special feature of the St. Gallen Carnival celebration is the Föbü-Verschuss, which will be on Saturday, the 10th of February this year. Here, the honorary Födlebürger is selected before the Vadian. This is the person who was responsible for the most absurdities in the previous year. The selection is made by members of the Schnitzelbänkler, Guggen, and Carnival committee. In public view, the honorary Födlebürger is announced during the festivities with the firing of a canon. The Födlebürger is then covered by a rain of confetti.

 

A parade of dwarves at the Lucerne Carnival celebration

Luzerner Fasnacht (08. – 13. February 2018)

On the 8th of February, on Fat Thursday, the Lucerne Carnival celebration will be ushered in by a blast of fireworks. Bruder Fritschi and his companions, like every year, ring in the 6-day festivities. Guggen with drums, timpani, and trombones as well as the Fötzliräge at the Kapellplatz provide entertainment for the attendees. After the traditional throwing of oranges at the Fitschibrunnen, the Fitschi parade then starts marching through the whole city. On Monday, festivities continue with a procession in colourful costumes. The Lucerne Carnival celebration comes to an end on Tuesday with a large concert, where Guggen play for the attendees until late in the night.

 

Tschäggättä im Lötschental (02. – 13. February 2018)

Between Mariä Lichtmess and the Gigiziischtag, the so-called Tschäggättä take over the Lötschental. Every evening, they go through the villages and scare the inhabitants. The Tschäggättä wear a wooden mask, sheep- and goatskins on their shoulders, and a bell (called a Trichla) on their hips. Ever since the 19th century, these dreadful creatures have been going around and striking terror into the inhabitants. The highlight of the Leetschär Carnival celebration is the traditional Tschäggättu parade from Blatten to Felden on Thursday, the 8th of February. The parade starts at 8 P.M. at the Dorfplatz.

 

Goat masks at the Carnival celebration in Lucerne

Carnival in Jura (09. – 13. February 2018)

For Carnival every year, there are various parades in Bassecourt, Delémont and Le Noirmont. In Le Noirmont, the Carnival festivities are opened with the traditional “sortie of sauvages” (the departure of savages). Here, the so-called sauvages, forest creatures with black faces and fir branches, go on a search for the most beautiful women. It’s tradition that the women who are captured are then placed in the village fountain. In the three following days visitors can enjoy the Carnival festivities in Jura in the three municipalities.

 

ZüriCarneval (16. – 18. February 2018)

The visitors at the Zurich Carnival celebration can enjoy themselves in a large marquee at Münsterhof. From Friday to Sunday evening, there you can find festive Guggen music, original costumes, and impressive masks. During the three-day celebration there are also a lot of festivities at the Hirschenplatz. Among other things, here is where the children’s Carnival takes place. On Sunday at 2:30 P.M., the ZüriCarneval reaches its climax. During the Carnival parade, multi-cultural groups as well as Guggen from all over the world come together and jubilate the crowds with their comical subjects and festive music. On Saturday, the 24th of February, visitors can celebrate Carnival for a last time at the CarnevalNight.

 

Carnival parade in the city centre of Zurich

Fasnacht Glarus (17. – 18. February 2018)

Every year on Saturday during Carnival, the Sternmarsch takes place in Glarus. Numerous Guggen in colourful costumes come from all directions and gather at the Rathausplatz in the city centre and play various pieces on the stage one after the other. A large concert with all the Guggen is the crowning finale of the festivities. Before the Sternmarsch, children can celebrate in the afternoon at the children’s masked ball. The Carnival celebration in Glarus comes to an end on Sunday. After the Guggen church service, Guggen musicians, coaches, and cliques go through the city centre in a festive parade.

 

Conclusion

Carnival is extensively celebrated in all regions in Switzerland. From parades and Guggen to hideous creatures, there’s a little bit of everything. This makes Carnival an unforgettable experience time and again.

In order to be well prepared for Carnival, you can find a few tips on creating your own costume here.

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