On the eve of Carnival Thursday horses in all colours – white, black, brown, bay and piebald – gallop through the streets of Appenzell. They frolic up and down the village to the rhythm of the drums as the bells on their bridles ring in wild abandon.

Carnival in Appenzell begins with the traditional «Ommetrommere» (drumming). Drummers of all ages come together. With the «Botzerössli» hobby horses and their riders). They gather on Wednesday afternoon on the Landsgemeindeplatz (main square).

The «Botzerössli» are a special breed of wooden Carnival horses. Riders in uniform «climb onto» the horses through the hole in their backs and can stay «on» the horse, thanks to the leather straps that go over their shoulders. The legs of the riders are hidden beneath a coloured «skirt» that also covers the horse’s body. In their exuberance, riders and horses often create alarm amongst onlookers. Many of the animals have to be taken to the fountain to quench their thirst.

This specific custom originally comes from Southern Germany. According to history, soldiers on their horses said coarse sayings to bystanders in the 19th century.

Today herds of «Botzerössli» strut around well in advance of the main Fasnacht procession on Saturday and are an important element of the children’s procession on Thursday afternoon. Children as well as adults wear old fire brigade uniforms and decorate their faces with moustaches, freckles and red cheeks.


Appenzell and surrounding communities.


The evening before Carnival Thursday until Ash Wednesday, 27th of February - 5th of March 2025.  

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