For the past 85 years, the community of Küssnacht am Rigi has held a “Klausjagen” on December 5—the most impressive St. Nicholas tradition in Europe. This event brings the entire community together for one day and attracts around 30,000 spectators to watch this unusual procession. In complete darkness, it starts with a silent parade of about 250 “Iffele,” a type of colorful and artistically decorated lantern that each take about 600 man-hours to create and which are individually lit with candles to bring a special glow to the parade. The men carrying these lanterns gently prance and spin throughout the procession, making this a feast for the eyes of moving colors in the otherwise darkened streets. The lantern procession is followed by St. Nicholas, who is himself followed by approximately 1,500 “Klausjägern” (Nicholas chasers or hunters) who make an incredible archaic noise with whips, bells, hand-made horns, and other strange noise-makers (note that this can get very loud!).
The procession will start at 20:15 at Seebodenstrasse, wind its way through town, and finish around 22:40, with a break from around 21:30-22:00 (for the exact route see their website). Küssnacht can be reached in about 1 hour 20 minutes by car, or 1 hour and 45 minutes by train.
Küssnacht is located right on the beautiful Vierwaldstätter See (Lake Lucerne), and you can combine this unique spectacle with a fondue cruise on the lake. Take the train to Luzern, and then board the dinner-cruise boat from the pier, a short walk from the Luzern train station, starting at about 17:45. The boat will depart Luzern at 18:30 and arrive in Küssnacht at 19:50, with plenty of time to enjoy a cozy onboard cheese fondue. You can watch the start of the parade and the first half, before the boat will depart Küssnacht at 21:45, arriving back in Luzern at 22:50. Note that the return trip is on a different boat, so don’t leave any personal belongings on board on the way out.
The return boat ride costs CHF 32 for adults (CHF 25.50 with Halbtax) and CHF 12 for kids (no Junior-Karte discounts); the cheese fondue costs CHF 39 per person, or CHF 3 per year of age for kids under age 11. Spaces fill up fast, so be sure make a reservation soon by calling 041-367-6767 or by filling out their “Kontaktformular” online at https://www.lakelucerne.ch/de/ihr-schifffahrts-erlebnis/angebote-tickets/kulinarische-schifffahrten/festtage-auf-dem-see/klausjagen-in-kuessnacht-am-rigi-mit-fondue/
6403 Küssnacht a. Rigi