On February 9, 2020 it is again a time of processions and parades in which the participants wear ugly or attractive masks (called Schemen). So the Imster Schemenlaufen refers to a colourful carnival procession in the town of Imst which features hundreds of attractive masks. The participating groups celebrate the triumph of spring over winter. Central to the spectacle are the so-called Roller (jumpers) and Scheller (ringers). As the procession gets underway, the young Roller, wearing his pleated mask, dances in front of the Scheller. While a Roller is keen to demonstrate his elegance and jumping ability, the Scheller has to get his instruments (eight hand-made cow bells attached to his hips which weigh up to 35 kg) to produce a perfect sound. The parade orderlies (known as the Sackner, Spritzer and Kübelemajen) smooth a path for the main two protagonists through the crowd – you’d be wise to keep out of their way! The two most exquisite figures in the Schemenlaufen are followed by a number of others with equally exotic names. Laggeroller, Laggescheller, Bärenbande, Kaminer, Labara and Vogelhändler, not to mention witches and witches’ music, feature prominently in this unique Alpine custom.
During the procession, the wearers of masks designed strictly according to tradition are followed by extravagantly built floats. Here, the equally outlandish proceedings involve spectators and – not infrequently – schnapps. The grand finale to the morning parade and the actual procession after the 12 o’clock chimes culminates in the impressive spectacle of late afternoon. All of the masked participants assemble on the town square to form the ‘concluding circle’. Bang on 6 pm – just in time for vespers – they take off their masks for the very last time. It’s an emotional moment for Imst’s residents because they know it will be a few years before they can enjoy such a colourful carnival display again. But before that day comes, the ‘crazy carnival’ still offers a marvellous source of lively comfort. On Carnival Monday, the day after the Schemenlaufen which precedes Shrove Tuesday, all of the participants parade once more through the town, this time in costume but without masks - a somewhat unbridled continuation of the noble goings-on of the previous day.