The next carnival starts on 11 February and ends on 16 Februar 2021. During that time, Lucerne's Old Town is transformed into one big festival site. People celebrate, make and enjoy music, and dance. A loud explosion (the Urknall or «Big Bang») at five in the morning of Schmutzig Thursday marks the start of the Lucerne Carnival. All is quiet again the following Ash Wednesday, which is forty days before Palm Sunday.
Bizarre figures in fantastical masks and costumes parade through the alleyways, while groups of musicians blow their instruments in joyful cacophony and thousands of costumed revellers chase the winter away.
The Lucerne Carnival is unlike any of the other carnival customs in Central Switzerland.
During those few wild days, Lucerne's bridge paintings are covered with plywood panels featuring carnival art. The carnival art displayed in the gable of the Chapel and Spreuer Bridges is created by the various carnival groups; the plywood serves to protect the historical paintings underneath.
Lucerne's carnival date is based on the centuries-old "Catholic" carnival. In AD 325, the First Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter should occur on the first Sunday following the beginning of spring. The previous Sunday is Palm Sunday. Forty (fasting) days before that, Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent. The days leading up to Ash Wednesday are when Carnival takes place: According to Cantonal law these are Dirty Thursday, Fat Monday and Tuesday.