Solothurn Fasnacht

The Solothurn Fasnacht begins on 13 January, the name day of Saint Hilarius. The Latin word 'hilaris', meaning cheerful or lively, gives an indication of the joyful celebrations that then follow. 'Hilari' day has marked the beginning of the Fasnacht celebrations since the 17th century, and since 1853 the honour of heralding in Fasnacht on Hilari day has gone to the 'Narrenzunft Honolulu' (Honolulu fool's guild) with their carnival general assembly and subsequent Hilari procession. The head of 'Narrenzunft Honolulu' replaces the mayor, the Rathausgasse's former name of 'Eselsgasse' (donkey lane) is reinstated and Solothurn calls itself Honolulu until Ash Wednesday.

The actual carnival week begins with the 'Chesslete' on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which is dubbed 'Schmutziger Donnerstag' (Dirty Thursday). Several thousand revellers take to the streets in white shirts, night caps and red scarves to rouse the people of Solothurn with a cacophony of loud percussive instruments, led by the 'Oberchessler', and usher in the 'fifth season', as the carnival celebrations are known. As in the rest of Switzerland, there are processions and balls, brass bands and 'Schnitzelbank' groups (a 'Schnitzelbank' is a collection of humorous songs or verses) perform on the streets and in pubs and restaurants, Fasnacht magazines are handed out and a 'Böögg' (effigy) is burnt. But 'Hilari' and 'Chesslete' are characteristic traditions of the Solothurn Fasnacht that have spread throughout the whole canton. They are even celebrated in the Solothurn municipalities to the north of the Jura mountains.

Detailed description


Oral expressions
Performing arts



Max Egger, Ruedi Rust: Solothurner Fasnacht. Solothurn, 1982

Interview mit Peter Keller (Ober der Narrenzunft Honolulu) vom 11. Oktober 2011. Aargauer Kuratorium, Aarau

Interview mit André Kilchenmann (Mitglied der Guggenmusig «Abassadonner») vom 6. September 2011 in Basel. Aargauer Kuratorium, Aarau

Wolfgang Wagmann: Solothurner Fasnacht im Wandel der Zeiten (Mitteilungen der Töpfergesellschaft Solothurn. Neue Folge 2). Solothurn, 1998




Fasnachtsgesellschaft Solothurn UNO

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