In Helvetia, a mountain town that’s home to a Swiss village, Fasnacht is celebrated as the pre-lenten burning of Old Man Winter. It occurs on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and is likened to Mardi Gras. It has its roots in the Swiss Winterfest.
Saturday afternoon features food, beverages, and open mic music in the Star Band (Red) Hall, a buffet at the Hutte restaurant, and browsing in the local shops. Masks from previous Fasnachts are featured at the Fasnacht Mask Museum. At 8:30 p.m., a parade featuring large artistic masks travels from the Red Hall to the Community Hall where the costumes are judged and the square dance begins. At midnight the efigy of Old Man Winter is cut down from the ceiling of the Community Hall, carried on the shoulders of the celebrants to the bonfire outside, and burned to signal the end of Winter.
The warming effect is not immediate and visitors should wear plenty of clothing so they can enjoy the outdoor activites.
A typical schedule is:
10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Helvetia Mask Museum and General Store are open in Kultur Haus Helvetia.
3:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Open Mic, food, and beverages. Star Band (Red) Hall.
5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Buffet – Greetings – Hutte Restaurant.
8:30 p.m. – 8:45 p.m. Lampion (candlelight) parade – Star Band Hall to Community Hall.
8:45 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Judging costumes – Prizes – Community Hall.
9:00 p.m. – 12:00 p.m. Masked Ball – Community Hall.
12:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Burning Old man Winter – outside Community Hall.