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Carnival in Basel

My parents, my kids and I went over for an all too short trip to see the Basel carnival called Fasnacht.

We spent a day in Luzern and a day at Mt Titlis but the main focus of the trip was the Fasnacht celebrations. Those take place a bit later than the normal Fat Tuesday ones - I think it was a week after the others; schedules are online for future years.

If you’re ever there, some tips of what we liked:

  1. We stayed across the river in Klein Basel which was good as we didn’t hear any late night partying. Trams and buses make it easy to get anywhere.

  2. For the highlight of Basel Fasnacht, Morgenstreich, all the lights in the city go out at 4 AM and these organized groups in costume start walking around with glowing lanterns all playing the same song on fife and drum. They wander all throughout the streets in a hap hazard way for hours. It’s really amazing to expletive. I’d highly recommend avoiding the main squares (if the internet recommends is as a main place for this, avoid it) as the smaller squares and side streets let you experience this without all the crowd insanity. Arriving by 3:30 worked fine.

  3. The other key highlight is the parade of floats and more elaborate costumes that happens later in the day. It’s at 1:30 and has a main route (available online) but also wanders around the old town streets. It looked like the bridge was a great spot for that but by 1 it was jammed. I’d recommend instead the town hall square (Rathaus Platz) as at 1 you could still pick good spots along the road. They throw confetti, oranges and candy out from the floats. Being front row is best as often they like to hand the candy out not toss it.

  4. In addition, we went to the Liestal Chienbaese fire parade - they walk through the old town with these crazy flaming wooden bundles and bonfire wheeled carts. I think we grabbed our spot by a building wall along the route at 6:15/6:30-ish; parade started at 7 and the fire parts started at 7:15. Definitely being by the building was best as the fires were high enough to still see from that far back and the risk of burning from embers was less - plus kids could climb up on the window ledges to see better.

  5. The other fun thing was the water park just outside the city. Aquibasilea is WAY better on a Tuesday than a Sunday but was still enjoyable on the weekend. The inside is a pretty typical fun water park but outside the water is so heated that it’s great to be in even when it is super cold out which is a neat experience. Bring your own towel as they don’t normally rent them.

  6. Restaurants I’d recommend: Gli Amici in Pratteln if you go to Aquibasilea (great family style Italian experience); Walliser Kane in Basel old town for fondue.

Hope others have the chance to enjoy this really unique event sometime!

Posted by
20 posts

Hi Shawna,

Thanks for all of your information about Basel. It sounds like fun.
My husband and I will be visiting Basel in early September before we go on a river cruise. We would like to do a walking tour around the city and possibly take in some of the attractions you mentioned. Would you have any idea where we might book a walking tour with a local host?
Thanks, Pat

Posted by
77 posts

Sorry, Pat! Unfortunately we didn’t do a tour while there so I’m not sure.

Posted by
467 posts

@Pat,

I was in Basel in December. I did an audio guided tour with an app called Voice Map. There's only one Basel tour on it. It was, I think, $9. It was about an hour and a half long and easy to follow. The area covered is fairly compact. If you can't find a local guide, this would be a fine substitute.