top of page

Carnival Comes to Basel Switzerland in May

The preparations are in full swing: the participants of the Carnival in Basel are currently getting ready for the "drey scheenschte Dääg", 'the most wonderful three days of the year', 11 to 13 March. Must-see during the Carnival in Basel: the lantern show on the Münsterplatz. Other artists are also extremely busy: the final deadline for applications to perform at the Young Stage circus festival is coming closer. Selected world-class young circus performers will be coming to Basel from 10 to 14 May.

Basel Carnival is part of the city’s identity – culturally speaking, it is at the heart of its creative energies and represents three days when the city goes wild. Owing to its uniqueness and quality, it has been added to the UNESCO intangible cultural heritagelist.

Our «Dame Fasnacht» – as the people of Basel lovingly call their festival – will transport you into the world of a different type of carnival. The event combines unique musical instruments, creativity and ideas, and first-rate artistic performances. This is where socio-political topics, stories and current events are communicated in a typical Basel manner: proudly, with acerbic wit and biting humour.

Basel is turned upside-down during what locals call the “three best days” in the year. Everything starts on the Monday after Ash Wednesday at exactly 4 am – in total darkness. The popular “Morgestraich” then turns the city centre into a sea of illuminated, hand-painted lanterns, where thousands of costumed pipers and drummers accompany “their lantern” and “their theme” with music through the streets – until the “Endstraich” on Thursday, again precisely at 4 am. And you absolutely have to experience everything in between.


But what makes the Carnival in Basel particularly special is its blend of anarchical chaos and well organized large-scale event. The following is an overview of what visitors should experience.

There aren't actually any official rules on how to behave during Basel Fasnacht, but locals attach importance to certain customs and recommendations. If you follow these, you'll soon feel like an insider.

Urs «Däge» Degen paints lanterns which enhance Fasnacht every year – a vocation that gets him fully in the spirit of carnival months before the «three best days of the year».

From the piccolo player to the drummer, from Schnitzelbank (satirical verse) performers to "Guggenmusik" bands: there are different ways to participate in Fasnacht.

A large number of characters are on the move during Fasnacht. Five of them can look back on a long tradition. Some of them are based on Italy's Commedia dell'Arte, while others are inspired by local events.

It’s official: Basel’s Fasnacht has been recognized by UNESCO as an element of intangible cultural heritage. With this decision, the International Committee has paid tribute to the rich traditions and uniqueness of Basel’s Fasnacht, which is only the second-ever element of Swiss heritage to be awarded the UNESCO label for intangible cultural heritage.

Why does Basel celebrate Fasnacht? All you need to know about the history and background to the "three best days".

January features a large number of events that sweeten the wait until the “three best days of the year” and heighten the anticipation. Whether slapstick or variety performance, the range of humour and creativity is virtually unbeatable and highlights the diverse facets of Basel's carnival. Clever verses and amusing punchlines in the “Raamestiggli” provide a framework for the splendid drum, pipe and “Gugge music” performances. In addition to the traditional pre-Fasnacht events, new productions delight a steadily growing audience each year.

In Basel you can experience carnival throughout the year. Exhibitions on the «three best days of the year» take place at a number of locations. 

Discover Basel in a new way every month: On 10 March 2019 we will take you into the world of Basel's famous Fasnacht. On this tour you'll learn all about...

25,00 CHF Per person


The flair of an artist from Basel

It’s a magic moment when at 4 a.m., on the morning of “Morgestraich”, the lights in the city are turned off and only the colourful painted lanterns light up the darkness. Each year, thousands of spectators admire the mobile works of art of the carnival groups (“cliques”). Many of them are unmistakably the work of one of the most sought-after lantern artists in the city: Urs Degen, known as “Däge”, is a well-known graphic artist, illustrator and cartoonist with a passion for Basel's carnival. Creating these artistic lanterns is a heartfelt undertaking for him. Months ahead of the carnival, “Däge” is busy with his paintbrushes before it's time again for: «Morgestraich, forward march!»




bottom of page