The Nassereith Carnival, known since 1951 also as “Schellerlaufen”, is a carnival tradition that takes place every three years in the town of Nassereith, in the district of Imst/Tyrol, on one day between Epiphany (6 January) and Ash Wednesday. The culmination of the Nassereith Carnival is the procession, which is characterised by its splendid colourfulness and typical wooden masks and is conducted according to precise, traditional rules.
In the weeks leading up to the Carnival, the preparations begin, in which—unlike the “Schellerlaufen” itself—the local women participate as well. On Epiphany, at the general meeting of all “Schellerlaufen” participants, the main masks are drawn by lots (“Scheller”, bear driver, witches, and “Karner”). On the Sunday after Epiphany, the ritual of the “Carnival Search” takes place: in the course of a procession, the participants search out and greet the Nassereith Carnival in the form of a figure named “Ruaßler”. On the Sunday before the Carnival, the bells (“Schellen”) are tried out and the main masks of the Carnival are parodied. In the night before the Carnival, beginning at midnight the local inhabitants process through the town, heralding the festive event with a great amount of noise. This custom is an invention of the local women, who are actively involved in this procession.
At noon of the day of the actual Carnival event, the procession of the masked figures begins on the town’s main square, acting out the triumph of spring over winter. At the centre of the event is the so-called “Schöner Zug”, a procession consisting of three figures who perform a dance called a Gangl. A witch’s oath ends the performance, which is then repeated at several locations throughout the town. With the ringing of the bells for evening prayer at 6 p.m., the masks are removed and the Carnival ends. Approximately 450 people are actively involved in the Carnival. The Carnival organising committee is responsible for the observance of the procedures and the preservation of the typical characteristics of the individual figures and masks.