Carnival in Canton Nidwalden is characterised by colourful parades, loud guggen street music and exuberant merrymaking. The run-up to carnival begins in January in the form of pre-carnival parties.
Carnival was originally celebrated to drive away the evil spirits of winter with loud music and disguises.
The carnival week proper starts early in the morning on Schmutzig Thursday with the Urknall (Big Bang – literally a loud explosion), at which point the guggen street musicians gathered on the village square start their cacophony, all playing at the same time. Carnival is celebrated throughout the region during the ensuing days. And because, a few days later, Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and fasting, the revellers indulge in much feasting. Golden-brown fried chneublätze wafers, ziegerkrapfen goat's cheese fritters and schenkeli biscuits are popular carnival treats.