Pre-Fasnacht 2013

We’d been informed early on in our move here that we were “just in time” for Fasnacht. Um, ok? It was (is) the biggest festival Switzerland and its been going on for 700 years. That’s a lot of tradition there. Other cities put on their own little parades and such, but none of them ever come close to the show that the Basel performers put on.

In addition to the Main Event (February 18th – 21st this year), the local villages have their own parades, usually the week beforehand. Dan and I were out and about today and ran into a couple of them.

Here is a good website for Basel’s schedule of Fasnacht and a Wiki article that gives some more background.

Everyone gets into the spirit of things

Pink Panthers on their way to practice

On Friday I ran into a “small” parade of pipes and drums and a lot of kids parading through the streets of Basel. I hadn’t expected this already and took a few photos and video. For the video, I was mostly trying to get a sense of the sounds and movement that went with the parade.

Video link

As you can see, a lot of effort and care is put into the costumes.

On Sunday Dan and I took a tram south as far as we could go and then walked around to see what we could find. We found Fasnacht! We were too early for the parade in Hofstetten, but we walked among the participants anyway and took in the sights. At first we thought that we’d missed everything, but later we realized that they hadn’t even started yet. It looked like the entire town was going to be the parade!

Not finding any place to eat for lunch, we took the next bus to the town of Ettingen, where we knew that something would be open and if nothing else, the tram would take us home. We got off the bus and hit the jackpot: the parade here was set to start in 15 minutes. We stopped in a small grocery store for snacks and to give you an idea of the “fun” behind this event, the manager offered us an airline-sized bottle of alcohol to take with us. Anything goes at Fasnacht!

It took us a bit to figure out the parade route but we finally settled on a sunny location and watched the fun begin. A large cannon boomed twice and then the drums started.

Kids of all ages participated and watched. It was fun to see the little kids in the floats point out kids on the sidewalk so that the appropriate candy could be tossed to them.

Not all of the costumes were cute and artful. In fact, a good many of them made bold political statements and others were just…weird.

Tractors pulled wagons, people pushed carts and marching bands stomped by.

We were having fun, being attacked with confetti and tossed the adult’s version of candy: potatoes, carrots, onions and cans of beer.

Many traditions were still held, including the clomping of wooden shoes. It was a good sound, when I could hear it over the music and laughing people

When we saw the same float come by for the second time, we figured that we’d seen enough. We walked back to the tram station, enjoying the parade as it continued to stream past us and pelt us with more confetti than I’d ever seen before in my life.

Participants who had finished

Crowded tram ride home


  1. Mike says:

    Looks absolutely incredible! How fun it looked!! Thanks so much for sharing these. But, to be honest – I think I saw some of those same folks in the pictures from a STN rally.

  2. Kathy and Tom Mc Crory. says:

    Hello Coleen and Dan—The Mc Crory’s calling from sunny Florida Dan. Sorry we have never met you Coleen, but Claudine keeps us abreast of all your adventures. The pictures are fascinating, and I just love to see other peoples cultures and traditions. We hope that you are both settling well in Switzerland. Unfortunately we have only stayed two nights at Lucerne while on a European tour, but loved the geography of the country, got to the top of Mt. Pialatus,( Spelling? ) and had wonderful views from there. Overall we were very much impressed, so we look forward to hearing of your adventures in Switzerland. Keep well, and we hope your life keeps as exciting as it appears to be at present.

    Kathy and Tom.

  3. sally Malm says:

    Colleen and Dan; I’ve found these additional pictures since I wrote you the e-mail with questions, some of which are now being answered. I’ve never been to Mardi Gras, but the Fasnacht costumes and parade remind me of the Mummers who parade in Philadelphia on New Year’s Day wearing similar costumes. What fun you had. finding these parades.

Tell me what you think! I want to know!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.