A new restaurant, hotel opening or a top event – we send you insider tips from Basel every month.

Sign up now

Carnival in Basel (Fasnacht)

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 heritage list.

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.

Dates of the Carnival in Basel 2019

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.


Dos & Don‘ts

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.


Lantern artist in the spotlight

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».


Carnival participants

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


Traditional Fasnacht costumes

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.


Basel’s Carnival (Fasnacht) is now part of UNESCO’s world cultural heritage.

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.


The history of the Carnival in Basel

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


Exhibitions on Basel’s Carnival

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.