The ABCs of Carnival in Basel, Switzerland

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Architecture. Lovely streets, not too tiny and cobbled, yet not too overrun with cars, civilization and Starbucks. Random mixture of old and new.

But why is no one working? Cause everyone takes part in Fasnacht, the streets were packed and most offices and shops were closed at least for a day or two. It was nice to see that while it might be difficult to hide from that particular carnival, most people seemed to enjoy it rather than take the cynical approach.

Cortége. Is what locals call the big parades through the city. Wikipedia says there are two distinct routes and everyone knows where they are going but I swear to God, it looked like there was no system, whenever I stood in one place for a minute, I was in the way of at least two groups of flute players in animal costumes.

Drums are heard everywhere in the centre and beyond for 3 days straight, whether in combination with some other instruments or alone, they give you a beat that sticks in your head and wont let the energy die down.


Eli. She was my lovely Swiss host during my time in Basel. I met her in Bulgaria about a year ago during another carnival. I don’t think I say this enough but I am very grateful for the kindness of the awesome people I have met during my travels.

Fasnacht. That was the main reason why I got interested in going to Basel. It is the local carnival but contrary to the German version, it has a somber attitude, or at least it is …well, different, OK? Family friendly, a little political, less booze and more insane music and amazing costumes.


Gugge music. Is played by a brass band: more uptempo music consisting of trumpets, drums etc. I dug them! Apparently, they are more common in central Switzerland. You wont hear them during the Morgestraich but they are around during the parades.

Huge amounts of nomnom traditional food such as flour soup, onion quiche, wähe, in addition to biscuits and chocolate, of course.

I took a ferry that was stuck on a string, it brought me to the other side of the river and was kind of awesome.

Jokes aside. The locals call Fasnacht “the three most beautiful days of the year” and they were! But I am also kind of glad that it is not a whole week, this way it stays awesome and does not get tiresome.


Kind of awesomely decorated store windows are the norm, no matter if small bakery or big and serious company. They use masks and confetti from last year in their windows. Heck, even the Elisabethenchurch was covered with decoration and confetti inside.

Lanterns. There seems to be two kind: 1. headlanterns and 2. those large, maybe 4m (maybe more?) high lanterns carried around during the parades. The head ones are of different shapes and colors and really make Morgestraich amazing cause from above you only see a sea of lit dots. Every clique makes the bigger lanterns different, they get painted to feature some political or societal criticism, comment or satiric element…or just those minions from that film I did not see.

Münster. We climbed on top of the biggest (?) church in Basel. The views were stunning even on the lowest level. I have a feeling it cost 2.5 Euros or so and the climb is a bit of a bitch, tight staircases, little light BUT if you are ever in Basel, do go up there, Tripadvisor agrees.

Not really being able to understand Swiss German but trying my best!




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