The masked carnival figures characteristic of Lötschental, the so-called Tschäggättä, carnival in Lötschental, Valais, Switzerland

In Valais, tradition and modernity go hand in hand, and many villages and valleys proudly honour their centuries-old customs.

Whether its fearsome figures in furs and masks or processions, the people of Valais love and live their customs and traditions and are happy to share them with anyone who is interested. When "Tschäggättä", "Schattenböcke", "Peluches" and co. parade through the alleys, thrills and goose bumps are guaranteed. Holiday ceremonies are also festive and impressive as floral decorations, traditional costumes, uniforms and the harmonious sounds of the village bands exude a very special magic.

"Sunnetreelleta" in Grengiols

Due to its location in a narrow mountain valley, the sun retreats from Grengiols in November and does not reappear until mid-January. This has earned the people of Grengiols the nickname "Schatteschlicker" (Shadow Slickers), which they assume with humour and celebrate their ‘shadowy’ existence with the "Sunnetreelleta". Accompanied by frightening shadow goats and cheerful sun ibex, they roll a large sun wheel down the steep village street with a mighty roar to symbolically bid farewell to the sun.

« Santiglaistrichijer » Fiesch

Before the Santiglais, when St. Nicholas arrives, every year on 5 December, the people of Fiesch drive the evil spirits out of the village with the sound of loud cowbells. The procession is impressive as the Nachttrichijers gather with St. Nicholas and his helper as well as the local population and guests during the evening on the village square in Fiesch. There, with a wink of the eye, they receive praise and reprimands from St. Nicholas. Throughout the evening, the Nachttrichijers move from pub to pub, where mulled wine, nuts and mandarins are served.

Valais tambours and pipers

The tradition of the Valais tambours and pipers has its origins in military music. The tunes they play mostly sound cheerful nowadays, but they originated at a time when countless Valais natives were serving as mercenaries in foreign armies. However, in the more recent past, this music has also enjoyed great popularity outside the army. Music competitions, religious festivals and local events demonstrate the great importance of the 38 associations with their approximately 2,000 members in Upper and Lower Valais.

Corpus Christi

The people of Valais still celebrate certain church holidays in a very traditional way. First and foremost is Corpus Christi, called Hergottstag in the local dialect, on the second Thursday after Pentecost. Processions to the glory of God take place in the mountain and valley communities across fields and meadows on this feast day. Dressed in traditional costumes and accompanied by the Lord God's Grenadiers in the uniforms of the old Valais regiments, the entire village community leads Christ with the Monstrance to colourfully decorated altars to the sound of traditional processional marches. Detailed information is available from the local tourist offices and municipalities.

Mask carving

The remoteness of the Lötschental has given rise to a wealth of tales, legends and myths. Wild figures that raced through Lötschental's history and have left their traces. It is they who were at the origins of the Tschäggättä custom that is still celebrated today in a real labour of love. Follow in the footsteps of the Tschäggättä and create your own Lötschental mask. On request, groups can carve their own masks in the carving workshop in Ferden under expert instruction.

A new mask is craved for a Tschäggättä costume, carnival in Lötschental, Valais, Switzerland

Carnival customs

While some Carnival traditions are famous (the carved masks of the Lötschental, for example, which have scared many a small child), others are less well known. Below, you can see pages devoted to the Tschäggättä and mask-carving; to the Gnooggärfüüdini of Erschmatt; and to the Peluches and Empaillés of Evolène.

The masked carnival figures characteristic of Lötschental, the so-called Tschäggättä, carnival in Lötschental, Valais, Switzerland

1:27 / 2:10 The Lötschental Carnival and its Tschäggättä

The Tschäggättä are carnival characters in the Lötschental. Valais, Switzerland