Carnevale is celebrated in almost all the the region with risotto, games, music, parades and masquerade balls.
The carnival is traditionally linked to fun and synonymous with lawlessness, transgression and excess. In a farming community such as the Ticino was until about the mid-20th century, this resulted in abundance of food, especially since the preceding period of Lent was a time of great rigour and austerity around the table.
The traditional dish of the carnival was risotto accompanied by the famous luganighe, a kind of pork sausage. Chestnuts with cream were also part of the menu. Carnival was a rare opportunity to meet for a festive occasion; music and dance favoured contact amongst young people. Bingo used to be played. The most popular game at the time was called palo della cuccagna where you had to reach the top of a "greasy pole" from which gifts and groceries were hanging. In the villages and towns the carnival season featured theater performances, dress-up parties and the publications of satirical magazines.
The end of the carnival was announced by a bell, and in some places by a bonfire. In areas of the Roman rite the last day of the festival was on Shrove Tuesday, whereas in the Ambrosian rite the festivities continue until Saturday.
In Lugano Carnevale begins the week before Mardi Gras with the visit of the King and Queen Sbroja to old peoples' homes.
On Thursday the procession of Lugano's school children is held, followed by the delivery of the city's keys to the rulers Ul Sbroja. On Monday you can taste the classic risotto offered to the city in Piazza della Reforma.
Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 - Re (King) Sbroja visits the old people's homes
Thursday, February 12th, 2015 - Risottata for the students of Lugano's public schools; Don't miss the kids' procession departing at the Parco Ciani at 14:00 and arriving in Piazza Riforma at 15:30
Friday, February 13th, 2015 - Re (King) Sbroja visits the old people's homes
Monday, February 16th, 2015 - Risottata at lunchtime in Piazza Riforma (will be held at Centro Esposizioni, in case of rain)
Click here to find the complete carnival programme here: