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Carnival 2014 schedule – Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Geneva Is The Perfect Place To Stay For Carnival Season 2014 At The Lake

images (10)The city of Geneva is centrally located for visiting the many smaller winter carnivals that take place in and around the Lake Geneva area. Of course, there are always the larger Fasnacht celebrations in Basel and Lucerne, where tens of thousands flock to banish the winter with all-night revelries and parades – but for those who want a quieter carnival experience, the towns around Lake Geneva are colorful, but not out of hand. There are also a lot more family oriented activities in the more local winter carnivals, and since Geneva doesn’t have its own over-the-top winter blowout, hotel prices are more reasonable and lodging is easier to find than at ground zero in Lucerne and Basel. Geneva does, however, have a more refined Winter Carnival from February 17th to the 19th, which focuses on workshops that help children make those macabre masks that scare winter away. The Geneva Winter Carnival culminates in an entertaining costume parade which starts at the Bridge of Bergues and winds through the streets of Geneva until midnight. If you are looking for other things to do during the winter carnival season around Lake Geneva, the festivals around Geneva vary greatly in activities and spirit, as each town has its own traditions:

Carnaval de Sainte-Croix, February 21st through 23rd, 2014

images (11)Sainte-Croix, like the other cities that celebrate winter carnival in the Lake Geneva area, is about a two hour scenic train ride from the Geneva train station, and is an enjoyable day trip if you want to sample a traditional Fasnacht, but don’t want to be surrounded by it 24 hours a day. The Sainte-Croix festival is really more about banishing winter, and begins like most of the other festivals, with the official start of the carnival being the announcement of the King and Queen. This winter carnival near Geneva is held over the weekend, and Saturday during the day is mainly devoted to children’s activities. At night, there is a costume parade and a grand costume ball with prizes. Sunday is devoted to the traditional guggenmusik concerts and parades with floats from various local organizations.

Carnaval de Sion, February 27th through March 4th, 2014

images (12)The Winter Carnival in Sion follows the more Christian calendar of Swiss winter festivals and starts on “Dirty Thursday” and runs through “Fat Tuesday” the day before Ash Wednesday (Day of Atonement.) There is a more traditional start to the carnival on Thursday night with the handing over of the keys to the city, and then the revelry begins. And even though this celebration is more oriented to adults who want to party, there are still many children’s events and parades during the day along with lots of accessible music and food, which makes the Sion winter carnival a nice day trip from Geneva. On Friday, there is a guggenmusik parade and then a ball with an orchestra at night. The rest of the weekend is more parades with floats, horses and more guggenmusik with another grand ball. On “Fat Monday” there is a beach party and then Tuesday is mainly parades for the children until the keys to the city are handed back to the mayor.

Carnaval de Monthey, February 27th- March 4th, 2014

images (7)The neighboring town of Monthey has their winter carnival at the same time as Sion because they also follow the traditional Christian schedule for Swiss winter carnivals. But it is very easy to visit both towns from Geneva and then figure out what things you want to do for winter carnival in the Lake Geneva area. The Monthey Carnival has been celebrated for 142 years now, so there is a lot of tradition here. The carnival officially starts on Thursday, but they wait until Friday to crown the king and queen of the carnival and have the first ball, complete with guggenmusik. Saturday is devoted to children’s events and then at night is a big costume ball with live music, when the results from the mask contest are revealed. On Sunday is the grand procession and then there are parties and music until Tuesday, which centers more on children’s activities until the end of the carnival.

Grandson Castle, March 8th and 9th

images (17)North of Lake Geneva and close to Sainte-Croix is another two-day winter carnival, which is based on the scaring away of winter tradition. This winter carnival is a little different because it is actually held at Grandson Castle, Switzerland’s second largest castle and also very historically important to the country. The winter carnival at Grandson Castle lasts two days, with a heavy emphasis on children’s activities during the day and then a big Saturday night party at the castle for adults.

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