„Fasnacht” – a unique type of carnival in Basel. Why is it so special?

The Basler Fasnacht (carnival) takes place from Monday until Wednesday after Ash Wednesday. It’s the largest event of this kind in Switzerland with up to 20’000 participants and up to 250’000 visitors every year

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The Basler Fasnacht (carnival) takes place from Monday until Wednesday after Ash Wednesday. It’s the largest event of this kind in Switzerland with up to 20’000 participants and up to 250’000 visitors every year

It all starts with the Morgestraich on the Monday after Ash Wednesday. When the clock in
the Münster tower strikes 4 AM, customed and masked groups of drumers and fifers start
their march through Basel’s dark center while playing their carnival tunes. The so called
Cliquen (carnival cliques), pull transparent lanterns made from canvas and wood. Some of
them reach a height of over three meters. The light within illuminates paintings that have
marked the past year. The fifers and drumers play popular tunes from previous decades,
sometimes they add new ones.

On Monday and Wednesday afternoon, the Cliquen march through the city along a defined
route, showing themselves to crowds of spectators. Several months before Fasnacht, a topic
is chosen and costumes, lanterns and masks are designed accordingly. It also appears on
flyers distributed among the crowds. On it there is poetry written in the local Basel dialect.
During both evenings, the masked participants wander from one bar to the next, singing and
acting out events of the past year. These Schnitzelbängg are filled with witty remarks and a
lot of fun to listen to. On Tuesday evening you can listen to the Guggemussige, or masked
musicians, in the streets.

Many participant’s favorite part is the Gässle, during which they wander through the narrow alleys of Basel’s old town. They roam through the old city’s streets with spectators marching

alongside them. The entire event doesn’t end before four o’clock in the morning on
Thursday.

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„Fasnacht” – a unique type of carnival in Basel. Why is it so special?