Carnival In Lucerne | Photographing The Maddest Street Party In Switzerland

If you thought the people of Switzerland didn't know how to "tie one on," think again

We’ve all had them, haven’t we? Nightmares that feel so weirdly plausible that you end up waking yourself up at 3am with an empty, muted, scream. You know the drill by now. The twisted faces, the strange shapes, the loud, cacophonous, noises; all that, and yet somehow so much more. These dreams start normal, sure, start with you maybe walking along a quiet street, fully content with the world, but they almost always climax with you running, stumbling, away from an army of monsters; your frantic legs getting caught up with the duvet, slowing your escape and leading ultimately to your doom.

“Welcome to Lucerne Carnival – your best-worst night terror made real for one whole week”

Welcome to Lucerne Carnival – your best-worst night terror made real for one whole week. Of course that’s not to say you won’t have fun at Switzerland’s street party to end all street parties (we had an absolute blast), but if you’re expecting a chill one where you know exactly what’s about to bump into you when you turn that corner up ahead… think again. It’s a total madness from start to finish, one that flies in the face of the “Swiss people don’t know how to cut loose” stereotype.

In terms of Switzerland’s carnivals, the one in Lucerne is kind of a big deal; transforming what is normally a picturesque medieval city, founded in the 12th century no less, into one big ‘shroom trip straight out of an episode of The Mighty Boosh.

See the photos we took at the Lucerne Carnival in the gallery below.

As backdrops for hallucinatory mind-fudges go, minus the hallucinogens we hasten to add, you’d be hard pushed to find a nicer one than Lucerne’s Kapellbrücke (‘Chapel Bridge’) – the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe (it dates back to 1333). Lake Lucerne isn’t exactly minging either to be fair; same goes for the River Reuss, that runs through the city, and Lucerne’s Altstadt (‘Old Town’). The contrast here between pretty setting and spectacularly ugly masks that invade the city every February / March couldn’t be more pronounced if it tried. Visually speaking, it’s a postcard kind of place to have a party.

The origins of the Lucerne Carnival are marked by the figure of Fritschi, an old hat-wearing bloke with a beard, his wife known as the Fritschene, and their child known as Fritschikind. The figure of Fritschi himself can be traced back to the 15th century.

“It’s a total madness from start to finish, one that flies in the face of the “Swiss people don’t know how to cut loose” stereotype”

What’s it all about then? This carnival business? Well, in Swiss-German speaking areas it’s a time of year known as Fasnacht. The frenzied season is a celebration of the end of winter, an opportunity to drive them nasty demons away, and basically a chance to go fully nuts before the prohibitive period of Lent kicks in and kills everyone’s buzz. It’s a riot. Can’t emphasise that enough.

Before getting stuck into the Lucerne Carnival shenanigans, we were lucky enough to spend some time enjoying the spectacular skiing on offer in the nearby resort of Engelberg. A mere 43 minutes away from Lucerne by train, the chance to combine an Engelberg ski trip with a Swiss city break, and potentially a carnival-flavoured one at that, seems almost too tempting to resist, no?

Do It Yourself

Switzerland Tourism

For more information on Switzerland visit or call our Switzerland Travel Centre on the International freephone 00800 100 200 30 or e-mail, for information [email protected]; for packages, trains and air tickets [email protected]

Swiss International Air Lines

SWISS offers more than 180 weekly flights from London City, Heathrow, Gatwick (seasonal), Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Dublin to Zurich, Geneva or Sion (seasonal).

All-inclusive fares start from £74 one-way*, including all airport taxes, one piece hold luggage and hand luggage, plus meal and drink. SWISS are also happy to transport your first set of ski or snowboard equipment and boots free of charge in addition to your standard free baggage allowance (excluding hand luggage only fares) and subject to availability.

For more information visit or call 0345 601 0956

Swiss Travel System The Swiss Travel System provides a dedicated range of travel passes and tickets exclusively for visitors from abroad.

The Swiss Transfer Ticket covers a round-trip between the airport/Swiss border and destination. Prices are £112 in second class and £182 in first class.

The Swiss Travel Pass is the all-in-one ticket to travel by train, bus and boat on an all- inclusive basis from 3-15 days. Prices from £172 in second class.

Plus each ticket offers free admission to more than 500 museums nationwide and half-price on the most scenic Swiss mountain railways.

For the ultimate Swiss rail specialist call Switzerland Travel Centre on 00800 100 200 30 or visit

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