Basel Fasnacht 2023

Event Dates: 
27 February, 2023 - 04:00 - 2 March, 2023 - 04:00

Basel Fasnacht is just around the corner!

When: 27 February - 1 March 2023 (technically, 2 March), 4 am to 4 am

Where: Basel city centre

Fasnacht starts with the Morgestraich at 4 am on Monday morning, 27 February 2023. Trains, trams and buses run all night, so you can get into town using public transport. Try and get there by half 3 at the latest - head for Barfüsserplatz or Marktplatz if you want to be in the thick of it.

Alternatively, try side streets off Marktplatz: the Andreasplatz is lovely, Rümelinsplatz will also be packed with Cliques; or Spalenberg, Martinskirchplatz, Freie Strasse - all good places.

At exactly 4 am, all the street lights in the center of Basel go out and you hear calls of, “Morgestraich...vorwärts...marsch”! Suddenly, the sounds of drums and piccolos burst out all over the place, playing the Morgestraich melody, while colourful lanterns light the night and all participants march to the beat of the traditional tune. Those first few minutes when the lights go out and the fifing and drumming starts up are quite something.

After you've roamed the streets for a bit, head into a restaurant and have some traditional Fasnacht food: Mählsuppe (burnt flour soup - sounds disgusting, tastes delicious), Ziibelewaije (onion quiche) or Kääswaije (cheese quiche).

The official parades (called Cortèges) with all the Cliques, Gugge and Waggis wagons start on Monday and Wednesday afternoon at half past 1 pm and run until about 6 pm. After that, it's all groups to themselves as they wind their random way around the small streets in the old part of town. Have a wander up Spalenberg, Gemsberg and along Nadelberg late at night and soak up the Fasnacht vibe.

As you're walking around Fasnacht, go into the various Cliquekäller (Clique cellars) for a drink or a bite to eat. Some of them are beautiful old cellars with vaulted ceilings, lined with lanterns. You'll find cellars along Bäumleingasse, Gerbergässlein, Nadelberg - in fact, pretty much everywhere, and they're signposted, so you can't miss them.

Fasnacht Tuesday is the children and family Fasnacht, beginning in the early afternoon. Head to the Münsterplatz for the lantern exhibition that starts on Monday night and lasts until Tuesday night. It's a lovely place to be, especially at night, with all the lanterns lit up and small Fasnacht groups providing the background soundtrack.

Tuesday evening is the big Guggemusik night, with Gugge concerts on stages set up at Barfüsserplatz and Marktplatz.

Thursday morning 4 am signals the end of Fasnacht. If you're still awake, head to the city centre for that last hour between 3 and 4 am, because that's when everyone goes out for a last round of drumming and fifing and it's utter chaos. Most of the big Cliques finish Fasnacht with one last rousing march just before the clocks strike 4 am, the group standing in a circle as they play their farewell to Fasnacht. Recommended: the Basler Bebbi Clique, who finish with a grand flourish in front of the Safranzunft in the Falknerstrasse near Marktplatz at 4 am.

For more information on Fasnacht traditions and history, get Peter Habicht's book Lifting The Mask, which you can find at the Bider & Tanner bookshop. You can also find lots of information on Wikipedia, My Switzerland and The book and links will tell you about the differences between a Clique and a Gugge, what a Schnitzelbangg is, and how to avoid getting stuffed with confetti by Waggis.