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Basel Fasnacht 2018 | The Morgenstreich

We have just returned from Basel and what a fabulous four days it was. We were in the city to experience the Fasnacht - Basel's annual carnival. The Basel Fasnacht starts on the Monday after Ash Wednesday and lasts three days. For most residents of the city, the Fasnacht is the most happening time of the year; something they wait for very eagerly. As visitors to the city, it was equally a highlight and a wonderful experience for us.

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Situated on the banks of the river Rhine, Basel is Switzerland's third-most-populous city. It is popular for its numerous museums and its architecture (both modern and old). The Fasnacht is an annual event and of late has been drawing in tourists from different parts of the world. Before our visit to Basel, we did not know about the carnival or its history. Yes, I had heard fleetingly about a carnival in Basel but I had not expected it to be of the scale that it turned out to be - it was a three-day spectacular filled with music, lots of fun and great community spirit.

The Fasnacht Schedule


Morgenstreich is the official start of the Fasnacht - it begins at 4 am on Monday followed by a big procession called the Cortege during the afternoon. The first day ends with drummers, flutists and 'Gugge' music bands taking to the streets in the evening. On Tuesday there is no official procession; however, in the afternoon the children’s Fasnacht also takes place followed by Gugge concerts in the inner-city in the evening. On Wednesday afternoon there is another big procession (similar to Monday afternoon) followed by bigger Cliques taking to the streets in the night. And 72 hours after it begins, the Fasnacht ends at 4 am on Thursday morning.

The Morgenstreich | Fasnacht 2018

The Fasnacht starts at 4 am sharp on the Monday after Ash Wednesday at the Marktplatz (Basel's main square). This beginning is referred to as the Morgenstreich. Thousands of drummers and flutists gather together in groups of varying sizes. These groups are referred to as 'Cliques'. Each Clique has their own theme and consists of masked members who are either playing the drums or the flute or are carrying illuminated lanterns. Crowds begin to gather at the Marktplatz much before the start time to ensure that they have a good viewing spot.

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Thanks to Basel Tourismus we had a good viewing point - a balcony above Marktplatz from where we had an excellent perspective of the procession. As the 4 am start drew closer, the crowd began to grow. The Cliques were in position and at 4 am the city's streetlights are switched off!

Start of the Basel Carnival with the Morgenstreich


And the start of the carnival was magical! The only light now was from the large, illuminated lanterns and the smaller lanterns that the group members carried. The groups marched through the darkened streets with Clique members playing their drums and flutes. The traditional marching music which dates back to the 1800s has a lovely melody to it and it was mesmerising taking in the whole atmosphere. We had got up at 2 am to make it to the 4 am start and the early wake-up call was totally worth it. The atmosphere and mood were filled with excitement. It was impressive. The parade continued until daybreak (around 30-45 minutes) after which the procession started to thin out and the crowds began to disperse.

Photos do no justice to the event. It has to be seen to be truly experienced. I will leave you with some photographs nonetheless. This will give you an idea of what to expect at the carnival.

Stay tuned for more articles on the Fasnacht.

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Basel Fasnacht 2018

Want more Switzerland stories? You might like to check out the Top things to do in the Olympic City of Lausanne.

42 comments:

  1. Looks amazing - like Blackpool by night but 10 times better! I bet it was an experience pf a lifetime!

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    1. It was fascinating, Tracy. Unlike any other carnival we have seen and definitely a spectacle that needs to be experienced at least once.

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    2. Looks like you had a wonderful time. I will have to add this to my wish list

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  2. AMAZING experience - hopefully one day I'll see this fir real

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  3. Wow, puts our carnival to shame. I bet it was brilliant to see.I know you said the pic don't do it any justice but I think the pics are fab.

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  4. Wow, awesome blog, very good and usefull info

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  5. This looks like an amazing experience. I love the fact that in some areas all the street lights are off and the only lights are from the lanterns.

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    1. At 4 am on Monday all the city's streetlights are switched off and the procession starts. It is magical. The photographs where you can see the street lights on were taken when the floats and participants were getting ready with their positions. At 4 it goes dark and the only light is from the lanterns and floats.

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  6. Gosh! That looks really good! I must admit to never having heard of this one, and we've penciled it in on our list!

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    1. We hadn't either, William, until we visited this year. And it was fabulous; unlike any other carnival.

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  7. Thanks for sharing. I am booking for next year!

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    1. My pleasure. I am sure you will enjoy it.

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  8. Great photos and a really interesting read. It looks like you had a great time. I've been to Basel but never knew it had a carnival!

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    1. It is the biggest carnival in Switzerland! We only came to know of it very recently.

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  9. Wow that looks amazing But I have never heard about this before!

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    1. I think it is slowly gaining popularity since it was added to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO in 2017.

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  10. I have never been to Basel, but it looks impressive

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  11. They certainly know how to put on an amazing carnival.

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  12. We lived in Switzerlnd for 3 years, and found that pretty much every town or city has its own unique carnival and traditions, which are zealously preserved by local townspeople. The Basler Fasnacht is the largest, but if you happen to be in a different part of Switzerland it's always worth asking if there's a local carnival to attend.

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    1. Thanks for the comment. True, I think most cities in Switzerland have their own traditional carnival. Next year we are planning to visit the one in Lucerne - the second biggest one after Basel's Fasnacht.

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  13. this looks great----perhaps another trip to go on my ever growing bucket list

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    1. Definitely. In addition to the carnival, Basel has lots of other things to see and do too.

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  14. Amazing photos, you are so lucky to see these things!

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  15. I agree. We appreciate the fact that we get the chance to travel and see new things.

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  16. These photos are amazing really brings the feel of the place to them

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  17. I’m not sure about the 4am start, but your pictures do make it look amazing so perhaps it’s worth the lack of sleep!

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    1. Definitely worth getting up early for - we loved it. The whole atmosphere was charged up with excitement and anticipation for the carnival to be flagged off. And then it began at 4 am sharp. It was magical.

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  18. I would love to go and see this wonderful place

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  19. Wow looks absolutely amazing. Deffo one for the bucket list.

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  20. Oh my goodness me! How absolutely incredible!

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  21. looks interesting

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  22. looks magical, quite a spectacle for all the family

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  23. wow looks thought provoking but interesting to see

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  24. Looks amazing and I wish I could go

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  25. That looks truely magical with the kids looks for evening out with family making fond memories xx

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  26. Looks like a interesting place to visit

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  27. Looks an amazing event something I'd love to see in the future for sure, thanks for your account it's most interesting.

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  28. Thank you all for the comments and shares. It is appreciated. For those interested in visiting the carnival next year, the dates are 11 March 2019 – 14 March 2019.

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