Many events in Basel have a long tradition. Indeed, the origins of its carnival, the famous Basler Fasnacht, date back to the 14th century. The Autumn Fair has a history that stretches back over 500 years. But even some of the more recent events have now become an essential part of the city's history.
We should also not forget the many smaller events which go to make a city of culture what it is.
Vogel Gryff is the most celebrated holiday in the Kleinbasel area. Every year, alternately on 13th, 20th or 27th January, Basel experiences the celebration of the three honourable societies «zum Rebhaus»,«zur Hären» and «zum Greifen». The savage («der Wilde Mann») floats down the Rhine on his raft, to an accompaniment of gun salutes. In the ensuing dance through the back streets of Kleinbasel, he is accompanied by a lion and a griffin – the latter known as «Vogel Gryff». The spectacle is completed by drummers and men dressed in traditional costume, with standards raised proudly aloft.
All hell breaks loose and you get goosebumps! The carnival known as the Basler Fasnacht begins at 4.00 a.m. on the Monday after Ash Wednesday with the "Morgenstraich" - a marching, musical procession in complete darkness, except for the lanterns of those marching. The carnival last exactly 72 hours and ends on the Thursday morning at 4.00 a.m. with the "Endstraich". During this period, the centre of Basel is taken over by the costumed "Fasnächtler", who move with their cliques through the streets, pubs and shops. Those who are actively involved also refer to the Basler Fasnacht as "die drey scheenschte Dääg" (the three most wonderful days).
Art Basel is an international art fair. Around 300 leading galleries from over 30 countries exhibit at Art Basel, showing modern and contemporary art from the 20th and 21st century. The range of works on show at Art Basel includes paintings, sculptures and installations, as well as videos, multiples, prints, photography and performance by over 4000 artists.
Baselworld is not only the world's most important trade fair for watches and jewellery, it is also the place where the global market leaders in the diamond, pearl and precious stones industry meet. Under the umbrella of Baselworld, they present their most spectacular pieces.
The Basel Tattoo presents world-famous catchy tunes, original choreography and a brilliant light show in front of the wonderful, historic backdrop of the Basel barracks. Top musicians, show bands and the best representative orchestra from all continents captivate the audience musically and visually on a journey around the world, and guarantee emotional highlights for all the senses. There are marches to classical sounds, you can rock to classics from the history of rock and pop, and sounds from the Scottish Highlands from the Massed Pipes & Drums give you a feeling of wanderlust in the gigantic Basel Tattoo Arena – and on behalf of "Her Majesty", bands from royal houses bring elegance and glamour to Basel.
The Basel Autumn Fair is more than your usual fairground or fete. With a tradition dating back over 540 years and its special customs, it is part of the living cultural assets of the city. As a traditional fair in the centre of the city, it also radiates out into the three-countries region (Germany, France and Switzerland) and attracts around a million people from home and abroad every year. The charm of this public festival is surely also due to its extremely high status for the population of Basel.
The Basel Christmas market on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz is one of the largest and most beautiful Christmas markets in Switzerland. During Advent, the city on the Rhine opens up to show its very special charm. Right in the centre of the city, embedded in the historic old town decorated for Advent, the idyllic Christmas market can be found on Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. Over 190 traders and craftsmen peddle their wares from small wooden chalets. There's also plenty to tempt your tastebuds - whether it's a mug of mulled wine, genuine Basler Läckerli biscuits, fine Swiss raclette or the popular grilled sausages.