• Switzerland's news in English

Swiss carnivals play out to large crowds

Caroline Bishop · 19 Feb 2015, 10:49

Published: 19 Feb 2015 10:49 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Around 150,000 people turned out for the six-day Lucerne carnival this year, 30,000 more than last year’s affair, which suffered from snowy conditions.

The carnival, Switzerland’s second largest after Basel, attracted 30,000 to its final procession on Tuesday evening.

Sion in the canton of Valais, which celebrated its 40th carnival this year, also welcomed more spectators than expected, with 42,000 people watching around 30 gugge bands parade through the town.

A much smaller celebration, some 6,000 watched last Sunday’s final procession in Fribourg’s Bolzes carnival, whose name refers to the Franco-German dialect spoken in the bilingual city.

While carnival season has so far passed without serious incident, revellers have generated a number of unusual call-outs for the authorities.

Last Sunday St Gallen cantonal police were called to the station of Mels after reports that a bear was asleep in the street.

Officers arrived at the scene to find a carnival participant dressed as a bear.

Roused from his slumber, he was ushered on to a train.

In Baden, mayor Geri Müller found himself the butt of most carnival jokes over last year’s “GeriGate” scandal in which he was temporary suspended from his duties for texting nude selfies of himself to a woman from his office.

Müller was forced to listen to quips about his actions as he attended an event to celebrate the final evening of the carnival, reports tabloid Blick.

Asked about the jokes, Müller reportedly replied “It’s carnival, I’m taking it in good humour”.

Meanwhile on the other side of the world some 4,000 Samba dancers dressed in Swiss colours depicted the history of Switzerland in a performance at the Rio carnival on Monday.

The promotional sequence, sponsored by Swiss national PR body Présence Suisse, featured alphorns, Swiss guards and depictions of mythic events such as the medieval legend of the dragon on Mount Pilatus.

Head of Présence Suisse, Nicolas Bideau, told newspaper Tribune de Genève that Brazil was a priority for Switzerland in the coming year.

Story continues below…

“It’s the biggest consumer market in Latin America and yet ‘Swiss-made’ [Swiss Tourism’s marketing brand] is not well known,” he said.

Back in Switzerland, carnival arrives tonight in the capital with the traditional drumming ceremony to wake the bear imprisoned in the prison tower.

Masked revellers and gugge bands will then parade through the streets of Bern’s Old Town.

Basel’s Fasnacht, the biggest carnival in the country, expects hundreds of thousands to attend the festivities over a three-day period starting at 4am on Monday morning, with more than 10,000 participating in the official parades.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP file picture

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf, marking one of the first such rulings in Switzerland, media reported Sunday.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available