Fall is a time like no other for everyone in Basel…the air is brisk, the shops and cafes turn cozy, everything starts to smell like cinnamon, and you get that special feeling that Christmas is just around the corner. And in this atmosphere begins the Basler Herbstmesse, the annual fall festival that draws around one million locals and visitors from all over the world. The oldest fun fair in Switzerland, this year’s 542nd messe runs from 27 October until 11 November at hotspots around the city, and until November 13 at Petersplatz.
From the official ringing in to the ringing out at St Martinsturm, the Basel Herbstmesse (Herbschtmäss) creates a cultural rendezvous that is both artistic and fun. The fair’s unique layout stretches the festivities throughout the city, and there are plenty of stands to explore, selling all sorts of handmade crafts, clothing, toys, and more. You can find rides no matter where you go—whether the spinning, whirling “chairoplanes”, the pit-in-your-stomach drop from the sky on this year’s brand new Freefall Tower at Messeplatz, or the ‘Beach Jumper’ at Barfüsserplatz. The giant Ferris wheel at Münsterplatz (one of the biggest mobile Ferris wheels in Europe) reaches the rooftops of Basel’s historical buildings and is a Münsterplatz must (at least once!), showcasing a fantastic panoramic view of the city and the Rhein River.
Another major part of any festival in Basel is the refreshments. Baslers look forward every year to Magenbrot, a distinct Swiss chocolatey gingerbread, and hot Rosekiechli, delicious flower-shaped fried pastries sprinkled with powdered sugar. Another favourite is chocolate-dipped fruit kebabs, with pineapple, bananas, strawberries, and crunchy sesame seeds. Keep your eye out too for Jeffrey’s refreshment stand (started by the owner of the very popular Jeffrey’s Thai Restaurant in Riehenring), which sells gourmet schnitzel sandwiches, back where it all began.
More highlights this year include an expanded Hääfelimäärt at Petersplatz, which showcases all kinds of beautiful ceramics in unlimited shapes, colours, and sizes. Wine lovers won’t want to miss the Basler Weinmesse from 27 October to 4 November at the Messe Basel, featuring around 5000 wines from more than 200 producers. The Messe is also home to Basel’s Herbstwarenmesse, with special deals on products from household goods to electronics to sports. And as the Herbstmesse changes from year to year, you never know what else you might find.
Wherever you are in Basel, you’ll notice that the Herbstmesse is a magnet for bringing together people of all ages to enjoy, to experience, and to make memories. Bring your friends, make some new ones, or bundle up your kids and take your family out for two weeks of fun!