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6 survival tips for Swiss Fasnacht

6 survival tips for Swiss Fasnacht

Fasnacht 2018 has begun in many villages around central Switzerland!

If this is your first Fasnacht, you will probably be scratching your head and wondering where all the crazy people having fun have come from. Compared to a normal calm and quiet day around central Switzerland, Fasnacht brings an incredible contrast with its loud music, costumes, and festivities. 

Fasnacht, or Carnival as it’s known in other catholic countries, is celebrated the week leading up to Ash Wednesday in the Catholic cantons in Switzerland. You will find parades, balls, and parties scheduled in most villages, towns and cities.

Luzern is the “Queen of Fasnacht,” with the city throwing a 6-day party (8-13th Feb 2018), while Basel, a protestant canton, is the King and celebrates later on in the month.

 The one year I got a bit creative for our local  Fasnacht parade, but everything was found around the house bar that cute Koala hat! 

The one year I got a bit creative for our local  Fasnacht parade, but everything was found around the house bar that cute Koala hat! 

Here in Canton Zug parades take place in most villages throughout the weeks leading up to the main event, the 6 days leading up to Ash Wednesday.  The highlight of the canton is the big parade through the centre of Zug which takes place on Schmutziger Donnerstag (or Dirty Thursday) in 2018 8. Feb starting at 2.30pm. The main road closes and everyone comes out to enjoy the parade. Or if you are brave enough, join in the celebrations starting at 5am!

You can find more information in English on the Chesslete Website.

For those of you new to the concept of Fasnacht, here are my top 6 survival tips to help make your Fasnacht experience a good one. 

6 Fasnacht Survival Tips

Survival Tip number 1 - Dress up

It is not just the kids that dress up for Fasnacht. Some of the adult costumes, even people who are just watching the parade, are amazing. Let your imagination run wild. For those of you who aren’t as adventurous (raising hand!) a colorful hat, funny wig or some face painting on your face will make you feel more like you belong. 

Since it is winter, costumes for kids that can be put over the regular clothes and jackets are a must as most of the festivities are outside. We have borrowed a dinosaur costume from friends, dressed up as a bumble bee and … As soon as Christmas is over, the stores start to sell costumes.  Maybe you can snap up a bargain after Halloween and be very prepared. But actually you don’t really need to buy anything.  

Although dressing up is encouraged here in central Switzerland, it is actually discouraged in Basel, who prefer just those in the parades to dress up. 

 Keeping warm is important. This cute Dinosaur costume did the job well. 

Keeping warm is important. This cute Dinosaur costume did the job well. 

Survival Tip Number 2 - Ear defenders

Fasnacht = Guggenmusic - loud brass bands that play fun music to pop along to. But they are loud! So for those kids with sensitive ears (all three of my kids) or even any kids at all, make sure you bring some ear defenders along. Our favourite these from Peltor. We have used these for Fasnacht, firework displays, a Wiggles concert where we got to sit up and close, and also for kids who find it hard to concentrate on their homework. 

 Guggenmusik is a lot of fun to listen to, but for some kids a bit loud so don't forget the ear defenders. 

Guggenmusik is a lot of fun to listen to, but for some kids a bit loud so don't forget the ear defenders. 

Survival Tip Number 3 - Good facepaint

The easiest way to get in the Fasnacht mood to paint the kids (and yours, too) face. However invest in some good quality paint that will last. I have had horrible experience with the cheap crayons thinking I would only use them for 1 day so why invest in expensive ones. They are frustrating to use and break easily. I have asked around my more experienced friends and they all suggest using the brand Snazaroo

Survival Tip Number 4 - Bring a small bag for treats

The kids favourite part is probably the treats that are given out. Sweets, chocolates, bread rolls and even oranges are thrown into the crowd. Watch out that you don’t get hit in the head with an orange! We collect oranges and bring them home to juice or cut up and freeze for smoothies. 

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Survival Tip Number 5 - Use public transport

The easiest way to get to and from Fasnacht celebrations is to walk (if you live near enough by) or to take the train or bus. Parking is difficult and the roads are usually closed so don’t miss out on the celebrations because you can’t find a parking space.

Survival Tip Number 6— Get out and enjoy

My last tip is to just get out there with your kids and just have fun. It is a great time to meet the locals and intergrate. 

Have any more tips to enjoy Fasnacht with kids? I would love to hear from you below in the comments. 

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