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.
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.
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