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Basel Fasnach 2014 - tips for an American Tourist?

Basel Fasnach 2014 - tips for an American Tourist?

Sep 13th, 2013, 07:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2013
Posts: 3
Basel Fasnach 2014 - tips for an American Tourist?


I'm seriously thinking of visiting Basel in March in time and specifically for, Fasnacht. I've been to Basel a few times so I'm pretty familiar with the area, transportation and the old city. I love the place and have been wanting to go to Fasnacht for years.
As an American who understands and speaks very little German and not at all the Basel dialect, does anyone have an recommendations? Should I go? Do I need to understand the language? Any tips for tourists if I do go?

Bhanac613 is offline  
Sep 13th, 2013, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
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Fasnacht begins at 4 am the Monday after Ash Wednesday with parades of cliques of fifers and drummers with lighted lanterns in the utter darkness. Be prepared to be standing in the dark, in the cold with thousands of others who thought it a good idea to rise in the dead of night to be part of it all!

You'll want to stay within walking distance of Marktplatz and Barfusserplatz because there will be no public transportation serving the areas you will want to be for the festivities.

The day before, or earlier, be sure to purchase a Fasnacht pin to display on your coat to show your support for the event; if you fail to show your pin, you'll be subject to forceful showers of confetti from critical but good-natured participants.

The festivities go on for three days with more parades (with more fifing and drumming). Many floats are themed as commentaries on current events--you may want to chat with other spectators to get the point of some of them. After the parade, the floats are on display at a park where you can view them more closely.

Have fun!
kmbp is offline  
Sep 16th, 2013, 07:27 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 424
Any other tips on Basel's Fasnacht for the OP?
kmbp is offline  
Sep 17th, 2013, 08:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 3,386
Just remember that the Basel mass transit system is FUBAR during the several days of Fasnacht, at least in the city core (from Aeschenplatz to the Messe). Plan accordingly. The little Rhine boats are enormously useful during that time.

We have several Fasnachts under our belt and IMO, the best part is the start of Fasnacht at 4 am (Morgestraich). Then that first day's worth of parades. After that, the appeal peters out pretty fast unless you're a diehard Fasnacht fan. Lots of people actually leave town for the week. That's not to say it isn't great, especially the first time you see one.

If you can, take in the flaming pre-Fasnacht festival in Liestal. Amazing and insane, but you have to see it at least once. Mass transit is also a pain after the Liestal event (the S-bahns run fine but are ridiculously overcrowded. Tip: at the end of the evening, to get back to Basel, first take the S-bahn from Liestal in the opposite direction for two stops. Get off and then catch the next one heading towards Basel. It's the only way you can get a seat (or even on the train at all) back to Basel.
WeisserTee is offline  
Sep 18th, 2013, 03:18 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,963
Definitely don't miss the Morgestraich - dress warmly and go with the flow.

Be prepared to be baffled and frustrated - and you won't be alone, even many Swiss from parts other than Basel will be in the same position.

The best part of the Fasnacht is the witty and merciless skewering of current events and personalities in imagery and ditties - the Basel version of the many Swiss-German dialects is so markedly different from most others that even somebody from, say, Bern, has trouble understanding.

Either give up and give in and just take it in as it comes by, or have a Swiss friend explain one or the other of the jokes. But don't expect anyone to give you a running commentary and translation, it simply can't be done.
michelhuebeli is offline  
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