New Years Eve on Münsterplatz
To the sound of celebratory trumpet melodies and before a spectacular display of fireworks over the River Rhine, many people see out the old year and see in the New Year on the Münsterplatz. Everybody brings their own glasses and champagne to raise a toast with everybody else.
The Basler Fasnacht
"Die drey scheenschte Dääg" (the three most beautiful days), as they call the three days of the Basel Fasnacht (Carnival), mostly take place in the open air. Drums, piccolo players, Gugge-music, floats and carriages make their musical and intriguing way through the city. Guests from near and far can also be carried away by this strange mixture of joy and melancholy, of death-dance and masquerade.
This Kleinbasel festival that takes place in January on the north side of the Rhine marks the start of the carnival season. The so-called ‘Vogel Gryff’ (Eagle), the Lion and the Wild Man are the heraldic symbols of the three Honorary Societies of Kleinbasel. At about 11 a.m. the Wild Man boards a river raft. Floating down the Rhine, he pays homage to Kleinbasel with a special dance. Below the Mittlere Rheinbrücke he is met by the Vogel Gryff and the Lion. The three heraldic symbols then parade their special dances through the streets of Kleinbasel. The ritual, which is derived from military inspections, has been performed since 1838.
Before the summer holidays, the first large festivals take place on the squares of Basel’s city centre. These include the bi-annual Jugendkulturfestival (Youth Festival). For a weekend, thousands of children and teenagers perform their music and their dances on dozens of stages in the city centre.
Swiss national day celebrations on the Rhine
The Swiss National Day also falls within the holiday period, on 1st August. In Basel, celebrations actually begin the day before: more than 100,000 people come to watch the water sports events on the Rhine, to visit the festival stands along the banks of the river and on the Mittlere Brücke, and to admire the magnificent fireworks display at night. The various events and speeches held on the evening of 1st August itself are more reflective in nature.
Em Bebbi sy Jazz
The old town becomes a stage: 'Em Bebbi sy Jazz' has now become internationally known as Basel's traditional Summer Happening. The largest Swiss "jazz party" leaves out no jazz style, from bebop to New Orleans-style and from swing to the gypsy-jazz. On average, more than 70 seven-piece jazz bands perform within a space of only seven hours.
The non-profit street festival around the Klosterberg (monastery hill) sets the city centre of Basel into a party atmosphere for the end of the summer.