Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Celebrating Fasnacht in Basel, Switzerland

Sleachmour Adventures, Basel Fasnacht

It's Fasnacht in Switzerland! Late January through February, Protestant areas of the country celebrate the pre-Lenten festival season known as Fasnacht (the Swiss-German version of Carnival). Parades of costumed children, grotesquely-masked adults and "Cliques" of piccolos and drums parade through streets in towns large and small, passing out candy and dumping loads of paper confetti.

Morgenstreigh, photo courtesy of
Morgenstreich, photo courtesy of
The best and largest of the many celebrations is in Basel. It begins with the Morgenstreich, "without light," parade, at 4 a.m. on the Monday following Ash Wednesday. Every light in the city is turned off for the parade of glowing floats and lanterns. Fasnacht continues for 72 hours, during which parades and festivities fill the Basel Altstadt. After Morgenstreich, there are two more "official" Fasnacht parades, or Corteges. Last year, the Sleachmours took the 40 minute train from Zurich to Basel for Monday afternoon's parade.