Bern Fasnacht/Street Carnival :
For a split second, I thought the bear at the front of the parade was real – but coming face to face with its open jaws, I spotted what could have been a misshapen tongue, but in fact was the nose and on closer inspection, revealed the eyes of the costume wearer!!
It’s a long time since I’ve been to a street parade where the whole community takes part; spectating parents and children alike dressed in costumes of all varieties to watch 50 marching bands walk the length of the main street of the old town of Bern, starting from the Bear Pits at one end of the route.
The carnival takes place over three days, from Thursday until Saturday, starting with (from history) the imprisoned bear being woken by drummers and released from his winter hibernation by the drummers of the Guggenmusik-Cliques (the name for the bands of musicians – and the type of music), who enliven the crowd with their upbeat rhythm.
The bear heads up the procession on the 6km route and the crowd falls in behind groups, dispersing into the restaurants at the end of the journey. It pays to make a quick diversion into a side street in search of a cafe to grab a quick bite if you haven’t already booked a restaurant for dinner because everything was booked out early.