The kick-off to Bern’s carnival is at 11:11 a.m. on 11 November, when the city’s carnival bear is locked up in the Käfigturm (Prison Tower) to hibernate – an event that is properly celebrated with the traditional “Gugge Party”.
But the real party takes place on the Thursday after Ash Wednesday (in 2023, this will be on 23 February): after 111 days, the bear is awakened and released from its Käfigturm hibernation – and carnival begins. First lively highlights include food, drink and music on Münsterplatz square and the Guggenmusik bands in Rathausgasse alley.
On the afternoon of Friday, 24 February 2023, it’s the little carnival fans’ turn: at 2:30 p.m., there’s a children’s parade in the lower part of Zeughausgasse alley. With a creative motto, of course! Every year, it revolves around a different theme. At 10 p.m., a torchlight procession in Untere Junkerngasse alley brings light into the darkness before the “Witches’ Carnival” at the Gerechtigkeitsbrunnen fountain concludes the exciting second day of carnival.
Who has the most colourful, most elaborate, most extravagant costume? An award ceremony to honour the best costumes is a must at a carnival! It will take place on Friday at 11 p.m. on Münsterplatz square. Registration is open to all dressed-up, masked and decorated carnival-goers from 7:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Zytglogge (Clock Tower).
The third day of carnival on 25 February 2023 also has a lot to offer – there’s the “poetic carnival” in the lower part of the Old City and the “Gassen-Theater” (outdoor theatre) in front of the Kreuzgassbrunnen fountain in Kramgasse alley, among other events. The performances begin at 10:00 a.m., followed by the “silent carnival” at the Zähringerbrunnen fountain at 11:30 a.m., where humorous “Schnitzelbank” verses are recited. The grand finale takes place at 2:30 p.m.: the cheerful procession through the alleys of Bern. The subsequent concert on Parliament Square rounds off the varied programme and ends Bern’s carnival with a bang.
Access to Bern’s carnival is free of charge. If you would like to support the wide range of activities and offers, the Guggenmusik bands and the various people involved, you can do so by purchasing a bronze, silver, or gold plaquette.
Bronze plaquette CHF 7.00
Silver plaquette CHF 20.00
Gold plaquette CHF 100.00
The plaquettes can be purchased at the Tourist Information in Bern’s main station, among other places.
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