On Saturday, February 11th, Lucerne will enter its fifth season: Fasnacht. Here we share where and when to be to make the most of this unique time of the year. We’ve put all the essentials into this post so that you can make the most of this exciting time.
There are parades planned on most days. If you are going to watch one a word of advice, make sure your feet are extra warm, you will end up standing outdoors watching over 40 floats go by, each with its own allocated Guggermusic band. Also be sure to bring a goodie bag as sweets, chocolates and fruits may very well fly your way!
The official parades are on Thursday the 16th and Monday the 20th in the afternoon. They begin close to the Hofkirche and stop at Bundesplatzt. They are also shown live on television on channel SF1.
Tuesday 21st at 14:30 is the Chendermonschter parade. This is open to anyone and it is usually for families or schools and clubs who parade. It is lots of fun and as long as you are dressed up and have some candy to throw into the crowd, then you can take part. Be sure to be at Mühleplatz up to an hour in advance if you want to be sure to start reasonably early. There are warm drinks and bread for all kids who take part in the parade afterward.
Tuesday night is the Monstercorso starting at 19:30, and is open to all groups. It is very large and impressive and lasts well over 2 hours.
Fasnacht at the weekend
If you plan on enjoying Fasnacht on Saturday and Sunday in Lucerne, then you are in luck, although the tradition is that all the bands head out to the villages surrounding Lucerne and take part in the parades and festivities there, in the last few years more and more activities are taking place in the town centre.
Each village pretty much has its own specific costume, the Krienser washer woman being one of the more recognisable. Don’t be surprised if you get grabbed by the neck or arm by one of the “ladies” and dragged along the parade before they decide to release you again. No point in resisting, these are burly gentlemen wearing the costumes.
Understanding the Luzerners at this time of the year
Fasnacht is like an irresistible force that takes over the majority of Luzerners’ lives during this time. You may find that a lot of the local places you usually go to for business are closed, the owner playing in a Guggenmusic Band. But be reassured this is organised chaos, there are garbage bins everywhere, public transport will work perfectly (they even put on extra trains and buses to get you to the Fasnacht launch) and come Ash Wednesday there will be hardly a confetti or inebriated Fasnachtler to be found anywhere.
Public Transportation during Fasnacht
Firstly extra trains and buses will be put on during the carnival period so that you can make the most of it, particularly for Thursday mornings’ early cannon start!
If you live in Luzern is might be worth getting a Fasnachtpass for the bus routes (CHF 20.-) this covers your travels within zones 10/28 from Thursday until next Wednesday.
Saturday 11th: On the Saturday before Schmützig Donnstig everyone is welcomed to the traditional Fasnachtsmäärt from 11:00 to 23:00. The first 100 wearers of the LFK carnival badge will receive a free Kafi Huerenaff!
Tuesday 14th: Usgüüglete, Under the Egg, is the location for the warm-up party to Fasnacht from 14:00 to 23:00 with plenty of Guggenmusic and costumes to get you in the spirit!
Wednesday 15th: Guuggerbaum – the Fasnacht tree will be erected at Kornmarkt. All the various bands will put their flags onto this tree. Meeting at 19:00 at Mühlenplatz, the procession will begin at 19.30 and participants are expected to be dressed in black with white gloves. Once the tree is up Kaffee Träsch will be offered.
Schmützig Donnstig (Dirty Thursday) 16th: Bruder Fritschi and his entourage will arrive at the Schweizerhofquai at 5:00 and with a big bang and a rain of oranges Fasnacht will officially begin.
The first official procession will begin at 13.45 from the Hofkirche and end at Hirschmattstrasse.
Saturday, February 18th: Various events in the city centre, 12:00 to 23:00.
Sunday, February 19th: Carnival in the district of Littau. Guuggermessen at the Lukaskirche at 10:30 – 12:00, Hofkirche at 11:00 and Johanneskirche at 10:30.
Güdis Montag (Fat Monday) February 20th: The second official procession will begin at 14.00, this is the one that is shown on television. Even if you are not signed up you can take part in the procession as long as you have a mask on. This is considered to be the biggest night by many, partly due to the fact that both Monday and Tuesday blur into one for many Fasnachtlers!
Güdis Dienstag (Fat Tuesday) February 21st: By now Fasnacht is blurring the days and hours. Of note is the Children’s procession which begins at 14.30 from Mühlepatz and goes to the Jesuit church and the biggest procession is the evening Monstercorso which begins at 19:30. All the Guggemusic groups will take part in this, the party will last until dawn.
By Wednesday morning things will return to normal. Luzern will then put on her robes again and dream of the next Fasnacht season which, by the way, begins on November 11th…
Friday 24th: There is, however, one last meeting at Kornplatz at 19:30 to remove the Guuggerbaum.