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What the Heck is Fasnacht? What it is and Why You Should Go

Who would have thought little Basel would have a carnival that’s ranked in the top 50 festivals of Europe? Fasnacht is a carnival like no other. There’s a lot of burning (in a wooden town I might add), parading (once at 4am and once with crazy masks), and fun!

Fasnacht is a local festival in Switzerland; it’s Basel’s version of Carnival!

I had never ever heard of it before coming to Basel, but I’m SO glad I know what it is now!

I was lucky enough to have a week off of uni that overlapped Fasnacht. If you’re in the Basel Canton the Monday after Ash Wednesday, this is a must see! It’s a lively and wonderful time of the year!


A pre-fasnacht event is Chienbäse. Let’s light massive pinewood bundles and parade them around an old, primarily wooden city!

This event is held in Liestal every year on the night before Morgestraich (more on that later). A huge procession of men holding flaming bundles of pinewood parade throughout town. It’s a little scary, super hot, and AWESOME.

Dress in clothes you don’t care for, as embers shower down! It’s not as dangerous as it sounds; there are lots of firemen on hand, though (just in case!).


At 4am, all of the lights in Basel city go out. It’s dark and cold, but then, these beautiful lanterns start parading around town while music is played! The lanterns are each made by a clique (and there are over 150!), and the people who belong to the cliques dress up and accompany their lanterns. The lanterns usually have some cynical political jokes/statements painted on them, and they are beautiful! So much work goes into these beautiful statements.

You could probably spend all night watching the lanterns and cliques go by. It’s honestly such a sight to see! Once you’ve had your fill, head home and rest up, as there’s another parade at 2pm!

The Big Parade!




This was my favourite part of Fasnacht! At 2pm, the cliques come with big floats, piccolos, and drums, and parade throughout the city. They throw loads of confetti into the crowd. Confetti isn’t the only thing they through… There were sodas, schnapps, candies, oranges, mimosas (the flower- I wish it was the drink!), condoms, water bottles, and pretty much everything you could think of being thrown/handed out of these floats.

It’s lively, energetic, and so so lovely to be around! There’s a built-up energy that explodes during this parade.

The Next Days


There’s loads going on the next few days… children’s parades, parties in the street, and lots of confetti still on the ground. It’s still a GREAT time to be in Basel, as there are more chances to see the floats/lanterns/cliques.

Even when Fasnacht ends, no one’s ready for it! It’s such an incredible few days that you really shouldn’t miss!

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What is Fasnacht? Why You Should Go to this Swiss Carnival | Basel | Carnival | Festival | Europe

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