Highlights of the Carnival in Basel
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.
The Carnival in Basel begins on the Monday after Ash Wednesday with the "Morgestraich" at 4 am. All lights in the city centre are switched off, over 200 Carnival themes (sujets) painted on lanterns start glowing in the dark, and the signal is given for hundreds of drummers and piccolo-players to strike up the same march – a magical moment.
On the Monday and Wednesday, starting at 1.30 pm, around 12,000 Carnival participants take part in the popular Carnival procession known as the Cortège. The cliques, Gugge brass bands and other participants march or ride on floats past the many thousands of spectators.
The lanterns of the cliques are placed on the Münsterplatz from Monday evening to Wednesday morning for the public to admire. They are often a feast for the eyes, both up close and from a distance. Don't forget to read the many lantern verses.
Tuesday evening is all about the Gugge music bands. At 6.30 pm the "Sternenmarsch" begins – a long procession of Gugge music bands that converge from different directions (hence the name "star-shaped march) and make their way from the trade fair (Messe) via Clarastrasse to the market square (Marktplatz) or Barfüsserplatz. Large stages are erected there for the musicians to present their songs to the Carnival audience.
On the second day of the Carnival in Basel, hundreds of children continue the tradition of taking part, individually or in groups, in a light-hearted parade. The city centre is a hive of colourful activity and the "Binggis", as children are known in Basel dialect, wear whatever costumes they like.