Swiss town brings the scares to usher in the new year

THIS time every year, thousands flock to a tiny Swiss village to watch the stuff of nightmares take over the main street.

These Silvesterchlaus characters chase away the evil spirits from the old year in an unusual take on new year celebrations.

The folkloric Silvesterchlausen festival in Appenzell, Switzerland, is one of those what-the wonders you can't take your eyes off.

Dozens of Silvesterchlaus characters walk through the streets chiming cow bells attached to their incredibly detailed costumes, stopping to sing a traditional yodel along the street.

The "ugly" spirits are nothing short of terrifying and the foresty spirits are not far behind in the scary stakes.

But the striking headdresses on the "beautiful Clausen" are a work of art carried on for many a generation in these parts.

These intricate head pieces, on both the forest and the beautiful spirits, depict scenes from all around the world - from panda in Asia to Route 66 in the United States to European winters.

The Silversterchlause people usually appear in groups of six and form a circle to shake their bells and sing their special yodel in front of the tudor-style homes and businesses.

This achingly beautiful Swiss alpine region is accessible by train from nearby St Gallen, with services to Appenzell running about every half an hour.

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