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Revellers take to streets for annual carnivals

Published: 03 Mar 2014 10:23 GMT+01:00

An estimated 50,000 spectators took part in a parade of almost as many costumed revellers in Sion, the Valais capital on Saturday, the ATS news agency reported.

“We estimated the number of participants at 43,000 on Saturday and 10,000 on Sunday,” Yoann Schmidt, chairman of the Sion carnival’s organizing committee told ATS.

In the Valais town of Monthey, a carnival procession on Sunday attracted a record crowd of 45,000 people, according to organizers.

Fifteen floats lampooned current events from the past year, including the arrest of Greenpeace activists protesting oil drilling in the Arctic, ATS reported.

The city of Lucerne launched its annual carnival last Thursday and other cities such as Bern and Basel are set to celebrate theirs in the coming days.

The events are based on religious traditions — catholic and protestant, depending on the region.

The carnivals in predominantly catholic regions run until Ash Wednesday, offering an opportunity for participants to unwind before Lent, the period of abstinence leading up to Easter.

Protestant communities, have their own carnival traditions with a different calendar, thumbing their nose at the conventions of Lent by staging their events after Ash Wednesday

Switzerland’s biggest carnival, the Basel Fasnacht, starts early in the morning on March 10th and runs until early in the morning of March 14th.

The traditionally protestant event in the German-speaking city features parades with costumed celebrants, and the music of marching drummers, piccolo players and brass bands.
 

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

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