Solothurn Carnival

Solothurn Carnival

Feb 07, 2024Feb 14, 2024
Canton Solothurn, Solothurn

On the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, the town of Solothurn welcomes 30.000 visitors and nicknames itself Honolulu during Solothurn Carnival (Solothurner Fasnacht), thanks to an old anecdote. Come and celebrate, see the city awash with bright colours and watch the amazing parades!

Carnival parades, torchbearers, marching bands and masked balls

The event begins on Maundy Thursday with the main Carnival parade, known as Chesslete. This is the beginning of the official carnival celebrations, although, of course, unofficial celebrations take place before this date. As well as Chesslete, there's also a children's parade the day before, and therefore this is the perfect day out for families with kids.

The parades usually depict a slightly satirical theme, and they run through the entire city, complete with torchbearers. Some participants wear a white nightshirt and nightcap, meanwhile, adding to the roaring music are musicians playing brass and percussion instruments. In the afternoon, it is officially claimed that carnival time has begun. 

On Saturday, there are masked balls, and later in the week, huge parades hit the streets. On Tuesday, the large brass band bellows festive music into the night. The spectacular carnival ends with the Böögg, or the straw man, which is burnt on Ash Wednesday.

Why Honolulu in Solothurn?

Carnival celebrations have taken place in Solothurn, like in other Swiss cities, since the 15th century, based on religious customs in the days before Lent. However, it was in the 19th century that a humourous Solothurn inhabitant observed that the town of Solothurn on the River Aare is exactly on the opposite side of the globe from Hawaii, and the idea stuck.

The Honolulu Fools' Guild (Narrenzunft Honolulu) was established 1862 and the concept of Honolulu in Solothurn during carnival celebrations has remained ever since! The head of the Honolulu Fools' Guild replaces the mayor during Carnival celebrations, and Solothurn calls itself Honolulu until Ash Wednesday.

Visit Solothurn Carnival

Head over to the official Solothurn Carnival website for more information on the carnival, accommodation, public transport as well as ideas for other Swiss excursions.

Thumb photo: PictureDesignSwiss via Shutterstock