Fasnacht Dictionary

Ever wondered what a Clique, Gugge, Schnitzelbangg or Larve is? Then check out our handy explanations below!


Cliques refer to the bigger groups which include drummers and fifers.


Cliquenkeller are the cellars of the various Cliques; that's where they practise during the year. At Fasnacht, these cellars are open and people can come and hang out and have a drink (in some cellars).


Gugge are brass and percussion carnival bands or groups that perform during Fasnacht.


Many non-Clique individuals and small groups known as Schyssdräggziigli also wander through the streets. Like the Cliques, they play music with piccolos and drums.


Schnitzelbängg are groups or individuals that take to restaurants and Cliquenkeller. They perform short songs in the Basel dialect which are usually satirical in content. The lyrics focus on last year’s events and are accompanied by cartoon drawings. The lyrics also tend to contain witty wordplay and often make connections to other themes.


A Waggis is one of the traditional Fasnacht figures. It was originally a caricature of an Alsatian farmer. The classic Waggis costume consists of a blue a blouse, white pants, clog shoes, a white collar, and a bright red scarf. The mask usually has a huge nose, a wide grin or grimace, and a huge wig.


In Basel they say Räppli instead of confetti. Beware of Waggis coming at you with a bag of Räppli - they're probably out to stuff you with confetti!


Blaggedde, or Plakette, are the Fasnacht badges which are sold before and during Fasnacht. There are bronze, silver and gold badges - buying one will help support Fasnacht participants and also (maybe) prevent you from being stuffed with confetti by Waggis.


Larve are Fasnacht masks.

Latärne (Lanterns)

Lanterns play a big role at Fasnacht. Each Clique and group has their own lantern, with new paintings or caricatures painted on them every year. Each lantern illustrates a different aspect of the Clique's theme of that year. They are carried by appointed lantern carriers on their shoulders or are pulled by a wagon. The lanterns can be as tall as two or three meters and can be viewed on Fasnacht Tuesday on Münsterplatz.


This is the official start of Fasnacht in Basel. It begins at 4 am in the morning on the Monday following Ash Wednesday.


Gässle is Fasnacht participants' favourite activity – it basically means 'walking along the narrow streets and lanes of the old part of town'. Gässle comes from the word 'Gasse', which translates as 'lane' or 'narrow street'. It's a beautiful thing, playing your instrument late at night as you wander through those narrow streets.