Swiss Carnivals

End of winter is a great time to have fun. Each Swiss region has its traditions of winter farewell and spring welcoming.

Carnaval De Bulle, Gruyère

Feb 14 — 16, 2020

Children are the kings of those days! Animations and a big procession with over 800 children are organized. The theme changes every year. Next to the animations and the guggen concerts, the procession is the main event and is the biggest of the French part of Switzerland with over 800 children!

Rabadan — Carnival in Bellinzona, Ticino

Feb 19 — 25, 2020

Bellinzona is famous for its carnival. Rabadan, the name of this celebration, literally means noise. For a few days, more than 150’000 people joyfully celebrate in streets and marquees. This makes of Rabadan the largest carnival in Switzerland, after the one in Basel.
The leader of this racket is the “king” elected by the carnival association. On Fat Thursday, the first day of carnival, the mayor of Bellinzona hands him the (symbolic) keys to the gates of the city and for the next five days the fools rule Ticino’s capital.

The Friday of carnival is dedicated to the youngest: indeed, there is the parade for the children of Bellinzona and the surrounding area. On Saturday, carnival bands, so-called “Guggen”, from Ticino and the German-speaking part of Switzerland give concerts far into the night. The highlight of Rabadan is the big parade on Sunday. Around fifty carnival bands and carriages participate in the “Grande Corteo Mascherato”. On the television of the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland there is even a live broadcast of the parade.

The Rabadan offers a wide variety of entertaining activities to its visitors: Mask competitions, tug-of-war tournaments, theatres on the streets and the most traditional dish from Ticino: risotto. Meat and drink is further offered in numerous marquees. During carnival the celebrations in the city of Bellinzona stays up until dawn.

Lucerne Carnival — Lozärner Fasnacht

Feb 20 — 24, 2020

The Lucerne Carnival’s events (Lozärner Fasnacht) are focused on parades. The events preserve tradition from the 15th century which is based on the religious customs of the days before Lent. During the carnival days, Lucerne residents who are usually self-controlled, turn the city to a center of happiness and joy.
Due to the numerous visitors during the carnival days and the high demand for accommodations it is recommended to check hotel rates and book rooms well in advance.
The events start on Dirty Thursday, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (Schmutziger Donnerstag) on 5 a.m. when the honorable people of the city observe the city square from the windows of the city hall and by a shot gun mark the start of the fiesta.
On 2 p.m., a parade that contains brass bands and noisy drums hit the road. The colorful costumes of the players and the noise they creat make it the first crazy parade. After the formal parade, the bands wander through the city streets while the noise of the drums and trumpets is heard everywhere.
On Monday which is called Fat Monday, the city that rested a while from the carnival, wakes, on the afternoon hours to a second noisy colorful parade that starts in the old city. The music is heard again until midnight.
The carnival ends on Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) by two parades; children parade and monsters parade (Monschter Korso) which is held in the evening from Seebrücke to Löwengraben. The drummers continue playing and making noises until the morning of Wednesday (Ash Wednesday).
He who visits Lucerne during the carnival days can’t resist the joy and happiness all around the city.

Bern Carnival

Feb 27-29, 2020

Carnival in Bern has quickly become the third largest event of its kind in Switzerland. It starts on a Thursday, when the bear imprisoned in the Prison Tower is woken from his winter sleep by the «Ychüblete» (drumming) and released.

«Guggenmusik-Cliques» (bands of carnival musicians) make the 6 km route along Bern’s arcaded promenade vibrate with their wild rhythms and noisy music.

Basel Carnival

March 2 — 4, 2020

Basel Carnival is part of the city’s identity – culturally speaking, it is at the heart of its creative energies and represents three days when the city goes wild. Owing to its uniqueness and quality, it has been added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.

Basel is turned upside-down during what locals call the “three best days” in the year. Everything starts on the Monday after Ash Wednesday at exactly 4 am – in total darkness. The popular “Morgestraich” then turns the city centre into a sea of illuminated, hand-painted lanterns, where thousands of costumed pipers and drummers accompany “their lantern” and “their theme” with music through the streets – until the “Endstraich” on Thursday, again precisely at 4 am. And you absolutely have to experience everything in between.

The event combines unique musical instruments, creativity and ideas, and first-rate artistic performances. This is where socio-political topics, stories and current events are communicated in a typical Basel manner: proudly, with acerbic wit and biting humour.