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Musicians and satirists come onto the streets

The carnival season got underway across Switzerland on Thursday, the 11th day of the 11th month – at 11 minutes past eleven.

Costumed revellers playing traditionally discordant carnival music, known as guggenmusik, performed in the streets of Zurich, in a custom dating back many centuries.

In Bern, the "carnival bear" took up its winter quarters in the Prison Tower, one of the old city gates, from which it will be released to mark the start of the carnival proper in February.

Satirical verses about current events, a carnival tradition in St Gallen, got their first airing, as musicians tried out their drums and trumpets.

In Sion, the carnival slogan of Mascum Invasion was announced. Mascum is an invitation to people to disguise themselves, and simultaneously an allusion to swine flu, while "invasion" means that all disguises are welcome, one of the organisers explained.

Carnival celebrations will now pause everywhere until February. and agencies