UNESCO accepts Schemenlaufen as world cultural heritage

An Austrian tradition known as the Imster Schemenlaufen that takes place during the carnival period has been recognised as part of the world’s cultural heritage by UNESCO.

It takes place every four years at Imst in Tyrol usually on a Sunday and lasts from early in the morning until exactly 1800. The next one takes place at 31.01.2016.

According to tradition only men are allowed to wear the many mastked costumes involved in the procession even when the masks represent female figures such as witches.

In 2010 it was nominated as part of the Austrian national cultural heritage joining the ranks of other Austrian tradition rich cultural jewels such as the Spanish Riding School. This week it was recognised by UNESCO.

Carnival in Austria is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.

The Schemenlaufen in Imst involves the local community being turned over to the masked characters who are always from one of 26 different groups of mask.

After the masked characters have paraded past various carnival floats follow usually pulled by animals or decorated tractors or even lorries in recent years.

The best floats are voted on by a jury.