Carnival in Liechtenstein
Around 60 years ago, carnival celebrations lasted from "Schmutziger Donnerstag" ("Dirty Thursday") until "Fasnachtsdienstag" ("Carnival Tuesday") and generally took place in local inns and guesthouses.
At that time, the carnival gave locals a rare opportunity to dance and look for a wife. As well as the traditional "Beizenfasnacht" ("Inn Carnival"), masked balls quickly became popular as they enabled people to amuse themselves and overcome their inhibitions while remaning anonymous.
The first organised carnival procession took place in Schaan in 1952. For a long time this remained the only such procession in Liechtenstein, before the introduction of a children's procession on Carnival Saturday and a smaller procession in Triesenberg in the 1970s.
An even older tradition are the "carnival newspapers", whose satirical tone sometimes overstepped the mark of what was considered acceptable.
There are two common customs held on "Schmutziger Donnerstag" ("Dirty Thursday"), the Thursday before Carnival Sunday: the first is for girls to have their faces blackened with the end of a burnt cork, the other is that local boys from the village try to steal the pot being used by their neighbours to cook lunch and then eat the contents.
The "Guggamusik" and the "Monsterkonzert"
The "Guggamusik" today remains an important part of the carnival celebrations. The term refers to brass bands which play very rhythmic music the 'wrong' way, with each band making its own characteristic "mistakes". There is at least one "Guggamusik" band in each municipality in Liechtenstein.
In 1976, around 300 members of "Guggamusik" bands took part in the first ever "Monsterkonzert" in Schaan on Carnival Saturday, thereby starting a new tradition of ringing in the hectic and often chaotic goings-on that are a regular part of Carnival Sunday. This concert has become popular throughout the region and in recent years has attracted crowds of around 5000 people.