Celebrating Switzerland’s “Fifth Season” - The Luzern Carnival



Luzern's fantastical carnival


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

Located in the shadow of majestic Mount, Lucerne, famous for its energetic mood goes wild.

People wearing wonderfully elaborate masks, playing horrendously loud music on trumpets, horns and drums fill its narrow streets.

This is Fasnacht, the Swiss version of carnival.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

The Fasnacht celebration


Switzerland Tourism dubs the dates of the Carnival as follows: "Dirty Thursday till Carnival Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday".

The festival starts on Schmutzig (fat) Thursday, just one week before Ash Wednesday.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

On Thursday, a big bang (the Urknall), coming from the town hall at five in the morning, marks the start of Switzerland's “Fifth season”.

The old town is transformed into a festival ground, long before the sun is up.



Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

The symbolic figure guild that marks the event is called Fritschi.

This straw puppet figure dates back to the fifteenth century and plays a huge part in these celebrations.

Each year, Fritschi and his family roams the streets in a wagon, accompanied over the centuries by a colourful, loud parade.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

The battle of the oranges begin, whereby oranges and confetti are thrown into the crowd; presumably to offer everyone plenty of vitamin C to survive the rest of the festivities.

A Satirical twist


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

The carnival was once a symbol of patriarchy, history and folklore, but today it is the highlight of the colourful merrymaking. This interesting spectacular is incredible to watch.

Despite the festival taking on a satirical twist, it is meant to be as scary and loud as possible to scare winter away, yet turns the city into a centre of happiness and joy.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

Bizarrely masked bands, called Guggemuusige’s are the heart of Fasnacht.

They take to the streets, playing well-known joyful cacophony tunes on their brass and percussion instruments.

Despite it being a little bit out of tune, it will surely get your feet moving to the beat.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

The marching parades are distinctly different. Unlike other carnivals in the world, they do not march in the streets in a strict formation.

Instead, they parade the streets in a chaotic “any-direction-you-like”, making frequent stops. They act out scenes and mingling with the crowd who are bouncing to the beat.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

What's more, is that every single person participates, each flaunting off their magnificently customized costumes depicting characters that embellish their hidden fantastical side.



Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

A few dozen ghosts, carrying bloated disfigured heads on their shoulders, bang their kettledrums as they march above the Reuss River.

A Martian removes his head to answer his mobile phone while another alien adjusts his huge eyes as if he can't believe what's unfolding around him.




Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

Traditional Food and Drink


The carnival is not just about the music and the dress up. It is a "fat feast" aswell.

This unruly celebration starts just before Easter which means that a 40 day religious fast is about to begin. During this time, locals give up some of their favourite things, which is usually meat and alcohol.

With that prospect before the locals, it’s no wonder why people take to the streets to party and eat in this way.



Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

Certain traditional foods, high in calories mark the season. The idea behind these foods is to build up some fat reserves before fasting began at Lent.

Greasy sausages and desserts similar to doughnuts and carnival cakes are served on the streets.

Luzerner Chügelipastete's are a must try to! This typical local dish is made of many layers of dough, filled with meat and cooked in sauce made with berries and rum.

The local coffee drink called Kaffee Lutz serves as a cultural asset. Traditionally it was made to make precious coffee last longer by diluting it heavily with homemade brandy and sugar. Today, it is the favourite carnival drink.


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores


Lucern Carnival | Switzerland | Image by Chantelle Flores

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