Tag

marktplatz

Browsing

Basler Fasnacht
11 March | 04.00 – 13 March | 04.00

Carnival in Basel is an experience like no other. It’s extravagant, it’s loud, it’s crowded, it’s a great big deliciously cacophonous mess. The biggest carnival festival in Switzerland, the Basler Fasnacht is an historic and fun event that you must experience at least once in your lifetime.

Morgästraich

Merz and Qadaffi as Punch & Judy © nicestalan
Merz and Qadaffi as Punch & Judy © nicestalan

It all starts with Morgästraich, that moment at 4:00 in the morning when, after what feels like the entire city has gathered downtown, the lights go out and the Cliquen (groups who are part of the festival) start their first march, all at the same time. Hundreds of Fasnächtler, or Fasnacht-participants, dressed in elaborate costumes compose the Cliquen, playing their tunes with flutes and drums, marching in a massive parade of colours and lighted lanterns, with bright handcrafted carts and displays usually saturated with political satire. (Try to attend this with a Swiss friend so they can explain the jokes!) And the Fasnächtler carry on as the morning dawns, taking breaks to warm up now and then at a local bar before heading out again.

After the Morgästraich, join some friends to try some Mehlsuppe, flour soup (a Fasnahct tradition), at one of the local restaurants or pubs. You can also try other local specialties Zwiebelkuchen, a pie made of onions and bacon, or chäschüechli, a cheese quiche. Many restaurants are open for the entirety of the drey scheenschte Dääg…

Die drey scheenschte Dääg

Waggi Confetti ©nicestalan // Flickr.com
Waggi Confetti ©nicestalan // Flickr.com

The carnival itself lasts for 72 hours straight, running until Thursday morning at 4:00 a.m. These three days, called the drei schöoenschte Dääg or the ‘three most beautiful days,’ are a non-stop celebration, with special parades on Monday and Wednesday called Cortège as well as other parades all throughout the city. Another fun part of Fasnacht is the Guggemusik — brass bands who play everything from classic folk to modern pop songs. The Gugge participate at Cortège on Monday and Wednesday, but Tuesday night is dedicated especially to the Guggemusik, with concerts spread out through the centre of the city, at Barfüsserplatz, Marktplatz, and Claraplatz. Buy a klöpfer and Feldschlösschen lager at the food stand and enjoy a fun evening of lively music.

Tuesday is also the day for the Children and Family Fasnacht, where children can take part in the marches with their parents.

Monday through Wednesday evening, you can catch ‘Schnitzelbänke,’ when performers sing satirical songs about current events and personalities. More info.

Throwing Räppli

You’ll enjoy dozens and dozens of floats during the parades, and you might get thrown an orange or other treat from one of the wagons. But you might also get stuffed with Räppli — colourful paper confetti. (And once it gets in your house or flat, you’ll be able to remember Fasnacht all year long, as you’ll continue to find it during your housekeeping for the rest of the year!) The best way to ward off confetti-throwers is to buy a Fasnacht Blaggedde, a badge or pin worn during the festival, which you can buy in the weeks leading up to Fasnacht. Yet even with the pin, there’s a fairly good chance that you’ll still get showered in Räppli at some point during the festival!

Fasnacht Treats

Besides Mehlsuppe, Chäschüechli, and sausages and beer, there are several treats you can look forward to for Fasnacht. Try Faschtewaihe, a white, pretzel-shaped bread topped with cumin seeds found at bakeries like Sutter and local supermarkets. For a sweet treat, head to your favourite confiserie, Migros, or Coop for some Fasnachtschüechli—delicious deep-fried pastry topped with powdered sugar.

There’s much to love about Fasnacht! What’s your favourite part of the festival? Tell us in the comments!

For more info, visit Fasnachts Comité at www.fasnachts-comite.ch or Basel Tourism.

Photo Credit: Noel Reynolds

Lällechönig
Flickr.com // © Noel Reynolds
It’s an experience like no other. Baslers and visitors agree, you either love it or hate it, but rarely anything in between. No, no, for better or worse, the Basler Fasnacht is something you’ll never forget.

I experienced it for the first time at fiftenn years old. I remember setting my alarm for the middle of a freezing February night. I wake up, catching the last few speeches of the Academy Awards as I layer in long johns, jeans, and sweaters. My sister cracks open the front windows, and already carnival-goers are streaming down our street.

We throw on our coats (with our ‘Blaggede’ pins buttoned on top to avoid being attacked by confetti!) and begin the trek toward Marktplatz, only a few blocks from our apartment — very helpful, since the tram and bus lines are packed. It’s cold, but somehow in the excitement of a citywide, midnight party with friends and strangers alike, Basel feels like it’s on fire.

And then waiting in the city centre, just as your hands and feet start to go numb, suddenly everything goes pitch black. It’s 4:00 a.m., Morgestraich, and Fasnacht has begun. It’s half dream, half nightmare as the insomnia, anticipation, and costumes all combine to create something at once wonderful and terrifying.

The music starts, at first distant and strange, and then louder and louder as the musicians come marching through the streets in all shapes and sizes with their colourful costumes and giant, oversized masks — some happy, some sad, anywhere from crazy, to cranky, to euphoric. The resounding boom of the drum and the shriek of the flutes echo off the cobblestones, and off the Rathaus and stone columns as the figures make their way through the streets, led by carnival floats and medieval-looking lanterns. And as the noise resonates around the city and Basel is engulfed in music and laughter, you find your friends and retreat to the nearest restaurant to warm yourself up with some traditional ‘Mahlsuppe’ (flour soup).

If you make it to Morgestraich this year, you’ll see that this is just the beginning. From 4:00 a.m. Monday to 4:00 a.m. Thursday, Basel is transformed. Work comes to a halt. And in the days that follow, you’ll find an endless celebration with unexpected parades, music, and mysterious masked carnival-goers throwing confetti and oranges.

You’ll run into people you know, and others you didn’t even know you knew. You’ll be out in the sun, and out in the rain, and up in the dark, and all the while walking on a growing carpet of coloured confetti. You’ll hear the traditional “Guggemusik,” bands playing a variety of both traditional and pop music…one of the few places on earth will you catch a rendition of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” performed with trombone and tuba. You’ll see sheets of traditional Swiss rhymes and poetry littering the street. There will be humor and friends, and memories, and crowds and inconveniences, and of course, pickpockets. But you’ll never see anything like it anywhere else.

I still think about that very first Morgestraich. Everyone in town got sick after three straight days of carnival, but no one cared. And I’ll never forget that night. Now, when even our Swiss friends say they’ve never been to ‘Morgestraich’, we tell them they have to go at least once. With family and friends, it’s something that will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Morgestraich is at 4:00 a.m., February 18, 2013. Visit fasnachts-comite.ch for more tips, do’s and dont’s, a route map for the processions, and much more!

Click here fore more info from Basel Community about Fasnacht in Basel and its surroundings.

Two things that Basel has plenty of — restaurants and shopping.

There are several department-store-style places to shop, conveniently located — as so many things in town are — close to tram stops, and all with a grocery store right below the ground floor. Here are the main stops.

Globus
Globus bills itself as upscale shopping with a gourmet grocery store and restaurant. Their grocery store is located partly on the ground floor and one floor down, and in the rest of their department store you can find make up, clothing, accessories, household items, and more. There’s even a restaurant on the top story.

Globus Basel
Marktplatz 2 • 4001 Basel
Tel: +41 58 578 45 45
(Website in German and French.)

Shopping Hours
Mon – Wed: 09.00-18.30
Thurs – Fri: 09.00-20.00
Sat: 9.00-18.00

Manor
Another popular shopping destination, with two locations in Basel. The one closest to Basel centre is in Kleinbasel, right off the Rheingasse tram stop. You’ll find clothes for men, women, and children, toys, media, household goods and decorations, luggage, electronics, office and craft supplies, accessories and jewellery, and all the rest, and at the top of the store is a cafeteria-style restaurant called Manora with different lunch “stations” daily (pasta, fish, schnitzels, pizza, curry, salads) and a small outdoor play area for children. The restaurant overlooks the city’s rooftops and displays a vivid mural of Basel on one wall — a relaxing stop whether for lunch, dinner, or a quick afternoon tea and cake. Also home to the Manor grocery store, a slightly more expensive choice to Migros and Coop.

Greifengasse 22 • 4005 Basel
Tram Stop: Rheingasse
www.manor.ch/de/standort-basel.html
(Website in German, French, and Italian only.)

Shopping Hours
Mon – Fri: 08.30-20.00
Sat: 08.00-18.00

Coop City
A smaller all-in-one store located right near Marktplatz, this expanded site of one of Basel’s main grocers includes a small restaurant on the top floor, and a Coop grocery store. Also a spot you can find some Swiss memorabilia like specially packaged chocolates, t-shirts, baseball caps, pencils, etc.

Gerbergasse 4 • 4001 Basel

Shopping Hours
Mon – Wed: 08.30–18.30
Thurs – Fri: 08.30–20.00
Sat: 08.00–18.00

Pfauen
Also technically a Coop City, Pfauen is much larger than its Marktplatz sister store. It’s located on Freiestrasse and sells high-end cosmetics and perfumes in addition to all the many levels of fine department store goods. The top-story cafeteria also holds an indoor play area for children. Also a very popular lunchtime stop, so expect crowds until early afternoon. Coop grocery store below.

Freie Strasse 75 • 4002 Basel

Shopping Hours
Mon – Wed: 08.30–18.30
Thurs – Fri: 08.30–20.00
Sat: 08.30–18.00

Photo Credit: Von Chrisderheld – Eigeni Arbet