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14th Mar 2011
Basler Fasnacht (Carnival of Basel)

What are the main events, and when?
Fasnacht lasts exactly three days, from 4.00 a.m. on Monday morning to 4.00 a.m. on Thursday. It is always held in the week after Ash Wednesday, and most of the action is concentrated in the city centre.

The three-day event traditionally kicks off with an early morning procession, the Morgenstreich, which starts at 4 a.m. on Monday morning. This is a procession of about 200 illuminated canvass lanterns decorated with paintings and rhymes that make fun of a particular “subject” - a local event from the past year. After the city's streetlights are switched off, these lanterns are paraded through the darkened streets, accompanied by the cliques with their drummers and piccolo players. The bars and restaurants serve the three dishes traditionally associated with Fasnacht: Mehlsuppe (a hearty broth made from flour and onion), and onion and cheese pies.

There are two main processions, starting at 1.30 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday. More than 10,000 masked carnival members parade along a set route through the city centre displaying their “sujets” or special carnival topics, accompanied by the sound of drums, piccolos and “Gugge” music. They travel by foot, on carnival floats or horse-drawn carriages, carrying lanterns and many other comical accessories. People in the procession throw confetti and distribute oranges, yellow mimosa and many other things to the spectators along the route. Most groups also hand out their own colourful sheets of paper (“Zeedel”) which make fun of local events and personalities in verse form, written in the unfathomable local Basel dialect.

On the Monday and Wednesday evening, more than 100 groups of Schnitzelbank singers tour the city's bars and restaurants, reciting their verses on local topics from the past year. The melodies vary, but the playful and ironic content is always written in the local dialect. The central point is usually only touched on indirectly, and the real object of ridicule only becomes apparent towards the end.

Tuesday and the exhibition of the lanterns
Tuesday is a day for children, with no main procession but rather groups of adults and children in costume wandering at random around the streets, some of them playing instruments. The highlight of Tuesday evening is the Exhibition of the Lanterns on Münsterplatz, where over 200 lanterns provide an impressive illuminated display under the shadow of the cathedral.

Gugge concert
On Tuesday evening, the city centre's streets are mainly filled with the “Gugge” music of the brass bands. The musicians gather from 8 p.m. onwards on Marktplatz, Barfüsserplatz and Claraplatz to play their deafening, discordant but often very catchy tunes. They then disperse through the streets, forming groups that spectators like to tag along with, and march through the centre playing their music into the small hours

The “Gässle”
The “Gässle” is special for the residents of Basel and visitors too. It simply refers to the custom of wandering through the narrow lanes and alleyways of Basel's old town, marching to the hypnotic beat of the small and large troupes of piccolo players and drummers, enjoying both new and old carnival compositions, and falling into a sort of reverie for a few hours that is entirely in the spirit of this unique festival.

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14th Mar 2011  Basler Fasnacht

14th Mar 2011  Basler Fasnacht

14th Mar 2011  Basler Fasnacht

14th Mar 2011  Basler Fasnacht

14th Mar 2011  Basler Fasnacht
Diary Movies

Basler Fasnacht

Basler Fasnacht

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