Luzerner Fasnacht starts at 5.00a.m. with a giant clash and small and large groups of people in strange masks are parading through the city playing their own kind of music, in fact its mostly just making noise with all sorts of instruments that makes a constant melody, although they are all trying to play something different.
The Fasnacht always starts at Schmutziger Donnerstag - Carnival Thursday - Jeudi gras - Giovedì grasso, that is the thursday before the mardi-gras
Click here for all dates of Jeudi gras untill 2035
If you visit Lucerne in December you may find some really charming Christmas markets all over the city - and in particular along Loewenstrasse. There are plenty of tiny wooden huts that sell all sorts of things, and you can find some interesting and unusual Christmas presents, like for example raspberry wine and beautiful handmade candles. Even if you're not looking for anything to buy a stroll along the Christmas market is worthwhile: it's a true delight in terms of smells - especially because of the gluhwein - a spiced wine served warm... simply delicious!
Its not often you see Donkey rides through the old town centre of Lucerne...but it was someone's special day....a wedding. The brass band was playing "Its raining men" and the bride was being led through the streets on a donkey....really strange sight!
I really like the new KKL ('Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern') designed by the famous French architect Jean Nouvel. It is now home for a fantastic music hall and many other cultural sights. You can't miss it because it is very centrally located at the lake front and just next to the train station!
A lot of Swiss German town know the Fasnacht. It officially starts every year on 11th November at 11.11 but the main events are in February. In Lucerne on a Thursday (in 2007 on 15th February). There is a cortège with dressed up groups that play music (Guggenmusic) etc.
Best check with the tourist office when what event takes place.
The Swiss people living here in Lucerne are really friendly and VERY polite; so please be sure to greet them with a warm 'Hello', 'Goodbye', 'Please' and 'Thank you' in either German, French, Italian or English (yes, they are multi-lingual!) whilst entering and leaving the shop premises. We certainly don't want these lovely Swiss folks to think that we tourists are a barbaric bunch, yes?
For the absolutely curious amongst us, 70% of Swiss people speak German as their first language; 18% French, 11% Italian and 1% Romansch. English is understood and spoken (to a certain degree) in most places where you'd find tourists. However, in smaller towns or shops off the beaten path, English is hardly spoken. So, in order to BLEND in with the Swiss, speak GERMAN!!! I'm sure your attempt to speak broken German will be greatly appreciated by them. I tried and it did work... even though I have NO CLUE what I was talking or speaking about. Duh!!
Oh, and in case you haven't already figured out, ALL THINGS Swiss are SUPER-CLEAN (not even a speck of dirt anywhere!), SUPER-EFFICIENT, SUPER-ORDERLY and yes, MEGA-EXPENSIVE!! :-) Have a great trip!
Let's spend some time now and talk about TIPPING. Hey wait... don't run away! It's not that bad. Really.
As a general guideline, I would recommend the following for you to adhere (I DO want you to leave a LASTING impression in the minds and hearts of the Swiss people, ya see):
(1) When you're at a restaurant, try and leave SOME tip although service charge is already included in the bill.
(2) A one - two franc per bag tip is appropriate for the bellman, as well as each added service you request of a staff person. And remember, the Concierge staff should be tipped depending on the difficulty of the service. I'm sure the next time when you come back to Lucerne, they can still remember you and will address you BY NAME. Now, wouldn't that be so cool?
(3) DON'T FORGET to tip the chambermaids at your hotel! These poor folks are hardly appreciated for a job well done so it would be a great incentive to them. Whenever you do so, you'd find that they'll take EXTRA special care in cleaning up your room. I promise. I usually leave a few Swiss francs per day; if I'm staying at a resort (like in Club Med for example), I'd leave the tip with the Manager at the end of my stay.
In case you haven't already noticed, the smooth walking paths along the lakeshore is perfect for inline skating. You can rent skates in the city at several sports shops... Oops, but skating out of town does mean bouncing over a few cobblestone streets before you reach the trail! Anyhow, the nicest hotel along the lakeshore is the aptly named Palace Hotel. It is in a great location and has wonderful lake views. One of the longest “off piste” ski runs in Europe is here in Engelberg.... so if the conditions are right, hire a guide to take you to “the Laub”. You won't regret it. I hope... :-)
All major credit cards and travellers' cheques are accepted in Switzerland. No commission is usually charged for converting cash or cheques, but you should shop around for the best rates (hotels usually have the worst rates). Train stations are usually the best place for exchanging money and they are open for long periods. City banks are open Mon- Fri 8.30am to 4.30pm
Tipping : is not usually necessary at hotels, bars and restaurants which already charge a 15% service charge.
The alphorn is a musical instrument once used by shepherds in the alps as a way of communicating. It has been around for some 500 years. It later developed into a musical instrument and has even appeared in works by Leopold Mozart and Brahms.
If you are on a tour you will inevitably do the 'folk show and dinner'... This actually ended up being a lot of fun. Dinner was served with everyone sitting at long bench tables with huge steins of local beer to try. It got noisy but no one really cared by the end of the night.
What impressed me the most about Lucerne was the friendliness of the people. They were always willing to help in whatever way, and most spoke English which was a tremendous help! Lucerne is a city that is planned very well, so it is easy to get around in.
I loved to visit the Vitra Design Museum at Weil am Rhein!
> Saha Hadid building, fire pavilion
Vitra Design Museum mounts constantly changing special exhibitions in the Frank O. Gehry building.
More info: http://www.design-museum.de/
Vitra Design Museum
D-79576 Weil am Rhein
Phone +49 7621 702 32 00/ Fax +49 7621 702 31 46
Lucerne has a well established cultural scene. We have a City Theater, two smaller theatres (Kleintheater and Theater La Fourmi), Cultural Centers (Schüür, Werkhof, boa, Sedel), several clubs with live music, and the top of it all: The newly built Cultural and Congressional Center. In the marvellous building, you can attend concerts or musical of the world's best musicians.
Tickets for any kind of cultural activity in Switzerland are mostly available at the institution itself (Lucerne theatre, Kleintheater, KKL) or at the Ticket Corner, which is located in the underground service area at the train station, in the main post office at the station square or the branch of the United Bank of Switzerland UBS at Schwanenplatz.
We were just in Lucerne Switzerland and had the opportunity to hear and see the celebration to drive away evil spirits for the winter months. The streets were very narrow and the noise was deafening. The procession walked up and down the streets and at various points it would stop and about 6 adults would spread out into the streets with lots of space between them. At that point the individuals had a large rope whip that was fastened to a wooden stick about on meter in length. The rope was large on one end and was braided down to a relatively fine line at the other. The entire whip must have been about 4 to 5 meters in length. At a given signal the participants would start to crack the whip with such force that it sounded like loud gunshots. This would continue for several minutes. We were told that the young men of the area would work on their skills for many years so they could become participants. I have found nothing else on this and was told this was a Lucerne tradition.