Do you remember your first Christmas in Basel?

What stands out the most? Strolling through the stalls of the Christmas Market for the first time? Hot raclette on a cold December night? The smell of spicy mulled wine, a favourite ornament that still hangs on your tree, your first taste of Swiss gingerbread, the white lights across the Rhein?

Whatever your most memorable part of the season, it’s all starting this weekend with the grand opening of Basler Weihnachtsmarkt 2013…

The Basel Christmas Market, the largest in Switzerland, runs from 28 November to 23 December, kicking off with the annual lighting ceremony at Münsterplatz. Governing President of Basel-Stadt Dr. Guy Morin will begin the ceremony, which will feature the Musik Akademie Basel and Theater Basel’s Extra-Chor. Enjoy live Christmas music while you warm up with free refreshments!

The Christmas Market extends over Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz with more than 100 stands and stalls—handmade crafts, ornaments, scarves, specialty soaps, toys, and more, along with Christmas treats from Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) to chocolate truffles to sausages and chäschüechli (cheese pie).

A few favourites of the Christmas season are the annual Stadtlauf on 30 November, a run through Basel’s festive streets past Christmas lights and decorated shop windows; the Basel Wish Book at Town Hall, where guests from all over the world can record their wishes and hopes for the coming year; and the Basel Theater Advent Calendar, when every night during advent, the theater’s foyer opens up for a literary or musical surprise.

Barfüsserplatz ChristmasOther events to look forward to are the Snow White ballet, Santa Clauses on Harleys, the Christmas Tattoo, a carol sing, a tower night climb at the Münster, and lots more. Also, don’t forget to stop by the Spielzeug Welten Museum for this year’s window display and a special Christmas exhibition—Christmas, Sweet and Crunchy, where you can try holiday cakes and cookies from all over the world.

With a perfect balance of tradition and innovation, there’s always a chance to revisit your best-loved memories or try something completely new, whether you’ve been in Basel for one season or twenty.

Stop by www.basel.com for more info and an online brochure.

Barfüsserplatz photo by basel.com

The Fair // Flickr.com © jrodmanjr
The Fair // Flickr.com © jrodmanjr
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! 

Stop by the official website at www.basel.ch/en/kultur/jahreshighlights/basler-herbstmesse-2012.htm for a complete guide to stands, rides, maps, and more.

*As always with fairs, keep your children and other valuables close!

Basel goes to the movies. Quite frequently! There are lots of cinemas to choose from on Steinenvorstadt, the ‘cinema street,’ complete with bars, clubs, restaurants, and shops. Many cinemas offer special member cards and cinema passes, like the Pathé Cine Pass, where you can see unlimited films at Pathé cinemas all over Switzerland for a flat monthly or yearly fee. Most theaters also give a special discount to movie-goers on Monday nights.

Photo by nchenga
Films in Basel are usually screened in German or in English with German/French subtitles (film programs will show you what versions will be screened at which times). And be prepared to take a break from your movie for a ‘Glace Pause’ when guests can go out to refreshment stands for ice cream, or else buy ice cream bars on the spot that are brought in by vendors.  

Major Cinemas

These are some of the major movie theaters in Basel showing films in English:

Pathé Küchlin
Steinenvorstadt 55 • 4051 Basel
Tel: +41 61 201 25 00

Pathé Eldorado
Steinenvorstadt 67 • 4051 Basel

Pathé Plaza
Steinentorstrasse 8 • 4051 Basel
Tel: 0900 00 40 40

Steinenvorstadt 36 • Basel 4051
Tel: 0900 556 789 
www.kitag.com/Index.aspx (Basel site)

Steinenvorstadt 29 • 4051 Basel
Tel: 0900 55 67 89 

Studio Central Basel
Gerbergasse 16 • 4001 Basel
Tel: 0900 556 789 

Stadtkino Basel
Klostergasse 5 • 4051 Basel
Tel: +41 61 272 66 88 

Kult Kinos
Kult.Kinos specialize in foreign-language and independent films, as well as timeless cult classics like ‘The Shining.’

kult.kino atelier
Theaterstrasse 7 • 4051 Basel
Tel: +41 61 272 87 81

kult.kino camera
Rebgasse 1 • 4058 Basel
Tel: +41 61 272 87 81

kult.kino club
Marktplatz 34 • 4001 Basel
Tel: +41 61 272 87 81

Summer Screenings

In summer, the cobblestone courtyard of Münsterplatz becomes a magical outdoor theater for Orange Cinema, screening the season’s hottest films in the cool of night.

You can even catch a film by the pool at Cinevision’s Kino am Pool:
Sankt Jakobs-Strasse 400 • 4052 Basel
Tel: +41 61 311 41 44