Theres no better time to discover the traditions and vibrancy of the Leukerbad valley than during the annual carnival
, held each year in the build-up to Lent.
This dramatic mountain region has a long and distinctive tradition of carnival, or Fasnacht, as it is known locally. It is a ritual that this area of Switzerland shares with parts of southern Germany, Austria and Alsace, with each town or village developing its own particular ways to celebrate.
These days, carnival is linked to the Christian period of Lent, but its roots go back much further. In pagan times, carnival marked the beginning of a new cycle: the end of winter, and the coming of spring. It was a time for chasing away the dark spirits of winter with music, noise, bonfires and colourful costumes. This, it was believed, made way for the friendly spirits of spring to arrive and bring warmth and growth back to the mountains.
Today, Fasnacht is a chance for the citizens of Leukerbad to really enjoy themselves. With celebrations beginning on 2nd February, the valley will reverberate with the distinctive sound of traditional Guggenmusic, played by a special carnival marching band. Handmade figurines of devils, witches and evil spirits thought to inhabit the mountainsides are burnt as a reminder of the festivals pagan roots and as a symbol of rebirth.
Children and adults alike parade through the streets in, fantastical costumes, and the celebrations are rounded off with a ball.
The festivities are a seamless, distinctive blend of tradition and novelty much like 51˚ Spa Residences
, which will provide the ideal base for experiencing carnival in Leukerbad.