Carnival in Bern – for 3 days, the bear is free


“Drumming” (Ychüblete) and “freeing the bear” (Bärebefreiig) – keywords that make any real Bernese wax lyrical. It is Carnival, and with great din the “Carnival Bears” (Fasnachtsbären) are wakened from their deep winter sleep. For three days, the capital is in the solid grip of jesters and carnival musicians (Guggenmusiker).

The Carnival in Bern is the third largest such event in Switzerland, and it attracts thousands of spectators every year. Among the impressive city scenery, they enjoy the procession of jesters, and experience first-hand the spectacle of the history of the Carnival Bear.

The prelude to the Carnival is rung in November. Every year, revelers and countless spectators gather at the Bärenplatz (Bear’s Square) at precisely 11:11am on the 11/11. The revelers imprison their carnival bears in the Käfigturm (Prison Tower), where the captive shaggy bears will spend precisely 111 days in a winter sleep. To mark the official start of the Carnival, the revelers and spectators gather again on Ash Wednesday at the Bärenplatz. Here, the actual spectacle, the freeing of the bears, is celebrated.

With the traditional “drumming” (Ychüblete), bands of carnival musicians wake the bears from their deep winter sleep, and celebrate the “freeing the bear” (Bärebefreiig). Next, the revelers proceed with great din into the inner city, with all the spectators accompanying the procession of the jesters. Bands of musicians, public concerts, and performances by theater groups offer a rich variety of alternative entertainment for young and old. The Bern Carnival – an impressive, unique, unforgettable spectacle!