Fasnacht – A Survival Guide

Yes, it’s here. The countdown is on and the only way you will be able to completely escape Fasnacht is by leaving town. If you are however prepared/willing/excited about taking part in the Luzern’s fifth season then take time to read these essential tips:

1. Wear a costume

This always goes over very well! Whether you dress up as Elmo, an airline pilot or your favourite character make sure you play the role. Also the locals love a group theme. For familes, if you want to go as papa bear, then there’s mama bears and baby bears too! Honestly you will blend in, check out our post on where to buy costumes if you need inspiration.

2. Take some time off

You’ll go out and you won’t want to go home early, so it will be tough getting up to go to work the next day. All the Fasnachtlers take Thursday to Ash Wednesday off. But Saturday and Sunday now are slowly getting more and more popular. If you do take the day off, you have to go early for the 5:00 am cannon on the Thursday, and have a drink then – the Swiss certainly do!

3. Wear a mask 

Many Fasnachtlers (yeap just made that word up!) love to fool their friends and colleagues. Get a complete disguise and you can go incognito for three days playing tricks!

4. Mingle with the Luzerners

Spend the day talking and laughing with the locals. You’ll get to know a side of them that only comes out during Fasnacht. Who knows you might even make some friends.

5. Stay Safe

Bear in mind that Fasnacht entails spending a lot of time with a large throng of people, this can be quite scary especially if you have little children with you. This year the police are being proactive and will be blocking the Rathaussteg bridge to prevent any mass panic should there be problems. There will also be signs up showing the best exit routes should the need occur. Better safe than sorry, right?

5. Sleeping in the old city?

If you live in the old city and need to work, you might need to look at renting a room out of the city or staying with a friend. With all the partying it will be very difficult to get any sleep! One member of the Living in Luzern team slept in the kitchen for 5 nights with earplugs and could still hear it.

6. Ear Protectors

If you have children or you’re sensitive to noise, then ear protectors are a must. There is going to be music 24/7 and many firecrackers going off. You’ll be breathing a sigh of relief when you’ve passed your 7th Guggenband safe in the knowledge that you’ve come well prepared. You’ll find the ear protectors in most shops – Coop & Migros had plenty in stock at the weekend.

7. Dress smartly

No we’re not talking about dressy clothes – just to dress warmly underneath your costume. It doesn’t take long to start feeling the chill when you’ve been out soaking up the atmosphere since 5am. Make sure you have plenty of layers and warm footwear!


8. Collect the badges

You can buy a Luzern Fasnacht badge which is a great commemorative trinket to have and look back on in years to come. I know many people who have collected one for every year they’ve lived here.

fasnacht badge


9. Drink like the locals 

If you haven’t already indulged in a Kafi Lutz, Zwätschge or Holdrio, then now is the perfect excuse. These drinks will be served in the thousands over the next few days and we’re going to explain them to you. Each drink has it’s own plum spirit.

Kafi Lutz is a local favourite, with a healthy measure of a clear plum brandy (Zwätschge) made in the Luzern region. It’s mixed with a dash of coffee and topped up with hot water. The Kafi Lutz should only be slightly coloured from the coffee – so that you can still read the newspaper through it!

Zwätschge Tea is same as a Kafi Lutz except it’s made with black tea.

Lastly, there is the Holdrio, which is made with rosehip tea and a rosehip infused plum spirit. Watch out where you have this one though, as tradition calls for the teas bag to be thrown in the air – ideally to stick to the ceiling. Last year a friend of mine did find herself ending up with a teabag hanging from her glasses as we were making our way along the river. Nowadays, there are not many places in Luzern that leave the teabag in the cup when they are serving this drink to customers. I can’t imagine it’s fun trying to clean hundreds of tea bags off the ceiling come the following morning.

10. Eat as well as drink!

Yes, it will get cold and those Kafi Lutz are sooo inviting but do remember to eat if you want to avoid getting very drunk. Keep yourself hydrated as well with plenty of water.

11. Take part in the Chendermonster parade

To really enjoy these few days, why not join in the fun by taking part in the family procession. This takes place on the Tuesday afternoon at 14:30. Be at the Mühleplatz around 13:30, bring lots of candy to hand out and feel like a part of the whole thing. but this only works if you have followed point one! You could even make your own mini-float…


14. Do not take anything you would regret losing

Needless to say there are pickpockets weaving their way through the crowd, so just be alert.

13. Make sure you check the transport timetables

Not only to find out when the super early bus leaves for the Fasnacht start on the Thursday morning at 5 a.m., but also because during the processions many roads are blocked so you may have to find an alternate route to take you to your destination. Go to the vbl site for more details.

Read some of our older posts about Fasnacht.

Fasnacht: Beginner’s Guide

Fasnacht: A brief history


(Photo’s courtsey of Luzerner Fasnacht)

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