There’s always something to see and hear in Basel
Fasnacht and the Jazz Festival in the spring, Rhine swimming, the Basel Tattoo, the Federal Celebration on the Rhine, Em Bebbi sy Jazz and open airs in the summer, guest theatre performances, the Basel Herbstmesse (Autumn Fair) and the Swiss Indoors in the autumn, and Basler Christmas and New Year’s Eve fireworks at the end of the year: Basel has lots to offer for every taste throughout the whole year. Experience great cultural moments and sporting highlights in the city on the bend in the Rhine! You’re sure to find your personal favourites that will bring you fun, pleasure and a range of emotions, year-in, year-out!
- Photo: Basel Tattoo
Jazz by Off Beat/JSB Festival
For jazz buffs, a major jazz festival takes place in April/May. Celebrated international musicians perform at a variety of locations throughout Basel. In recent years, the festival programme has been steadily expanded.
For one weekend every spring, everything revolves around the local music scene. Dozens of bars and clubs set up stages and turn into a music bar. Over 300 local bands show their energy and perform.
During the summer holiday season, the Stimmenfestival presents outstanding singers and musicians from rock and pop, jazz and classical music, from all eras and styles, as well as special in-house productions and festival projects that combine the genres of music, literature and theatre in unique ways. It is a cross-border festival with a wide variety of venues: music and experimentation takes place in parks and at smaller sites. International stars such as Leonard Cohen, Pink and Juanes appear on the Markplatz in Lörrach. In addition, unknown pearls from around the world can also be discovered www.stimmen.com.
In recent years the city has had a new forum in the summer months: the festival Im Fluss on the Rhine. For two weeks, Swiss bands play on a stage floating on the river, while the audience enjoys a beer on the banks of the Rhine. All concerts are free.
Open air concerts at the St. Jakob Park
The multi-purpose St.-Jakob-Park football stadium also hosts annual open-air concerts. Check the news for upcoming shows.
‘Em Bebbi sy Jazz’
The end of the school vacation is signalled by the traditional jazz festival ‘Em Bebbi sy Jazz’. The festival is staged at a variety of open air venues in the heart of the city. The fabulous atmosphere is enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors.
Baloise Session – Jazz, Blues & Soul
November is a highlight for fans of sophisticated music: The Baloise Session is staged at the event hall of the Basel Exhibition. Whether it be the Supremes or the Temptations, Zucchero or Amy Madconald, Suzanne Vega or Reamonn – the great names of the blues, jazz and soul world all come to Basel to present their shows.
The Basel Tattoo is unique in Switzerland, and is one of the largest open-air festivals of its kind in Europe. Every summer, the best representation orchestras from around the world, present catchy tunes combined with elaborately choreographed march sequences, and provide a marvellous spectacle of colour and light in front of the magnificent backdrop of the Kaserne Basel.
Youth Culture Festival Basel (Jugendkulturfestival Basel)
At the Jugendkulturfestival, the very young take over the city for a whole weekend every second year. On a number of stages, young bands and dance groups show what they have learned in weeks of practice. The JKF offers young people a platform on which to present their creativity.
European Festival of Youth Choirs Basel
The European Festival of Youth Choirs Basel takes place every second year during the Ascension holidays. First held in 1992, it has now become firmly established, and, with more than 22,000 visitors, has become an integral part of the cultural life of Basel and the region. The festival focuses on interaction. Choirs representing a broad musical and cultural spectrum of European choir singing can be seen in more than 25 large and smaller concerts in Basel and the region.
Since 2006, the festival Opera Basel has become a very popular event in the late summer. The festival uses the concept of placing the stage and the orchestra in the middle of the visitors, so that the soloists can be experienced close at Hand.
Theatre and Dance
The bandwidth is great: Guest appearances by renowned international fringe theatre companies, such as the annual FigurenTheaterFestival Basel, theatre projects for people with disabilities that appear every two years at the wildwuchs cultural festival, as well as dance ensembles from all over the world or crossover festivals all have their place in Basel.
After a break of several years, an international theatre festival has taken place again in Basel in 2012. As an "urban space and public festival", it will take place every two years during the summer, with appearances by contemporary dance and theatre companies from around the whole world.
Art and Museums
Museum Night (Museumsnacht)
For some years now, the Museumsnacht (Museum Night) has also been carried out every January in Basel. Most of the more than 30 museums in the city take part, and offer special guided tours, performances, concerts and culinary delights.
Art Basel – the world’s leading art fair
Art Basel, the international art show for 20th and 21st century art, is universally acknowledged to be the world’s most important art fair. Over 300 carefully selected exhibitors turn the exhibition into an exceptional temporary museum. Artists, art collectors and many VIPs from the art and culture worlds meet during Art week in Basel.
Regionale – a trans-regional art festival
The annual Regionale exhibition is an attractive platform for a variety of artists and art institutions on the Upper Rhine. It intends to act as a mirror for current happenings, the epitome of contradictions, the diversity, for the pleasurable and competitive coming-together of artists, event organisers and the public. With trans-regional attention: in 2011, art museums from the region of Bern took over the Basel regional model for the first time.
BASELWORLD – the Watch and Jewellery Show
Sparkling Basel: BASELWORLD is the world’s most important specialist trade fair for the international watch and jewellery industry. The monumental stands of the (prestige) brands fill the trade fair halls, and many tens of thousands of visitors ensure that all hotels within a radius of 250 kilometres are booked out.
muba – Switzerland’s biggest public fair
The muba (Mustermesse Basel = Basel Sample Fair) is a part of Basel history. The muba was carried out for the first time during the 1st World War in order to present the products of Swiss industry and agriculture. In recent decades, the muba has developed more and more into a national consumer goods and theme show.
Art Basel – the world’s leading art fair
Art Basel, the international art show for 20th and 21st century art, is universally acknowledged to be the world’s most important art fair. Around 300 carefully selected exhibitors turn the exhibition into an exceptional temporary museum. Artists, art collectors and many VIPs from the art and culture worlds meet during Art week in Basel.
liste – Art Fair Basel
Art Basel is for established art, liste wants to show newer and bolder art to a younger audience. It has grown to become just as international as its big sister and is an integral part of the whole Art week. This also applies to the numerous other accompanying fairs and shows where local artists can also exhibit their work.
BLICKFANG - International design fair
Starting in 2010, a whole weekend of design comes to Basel every year in spring, featuring the best in the furniture, lighting, fashion, and jewellery sectors. Exhibitors at the Basle BLICKFANG include many young talents as well as designers who have already made a name for themselves.
TRESOR contemporary craft
TRESOR contemporary craft is an international platform for high-end craft and contemporary applied arts which will open its doors on the Messe Basel exhibition grounds for the first time ever in September 2017.
- Photo: Juri Weiss
Badminton Swiss Open
In March, the world’s best male and female badminton players come to Basel to play in the international Swiss Open tournament.
The big Rhine swim
People swim in the Rhine all summer long. But once a year the big „Basler Rheinschwimmen“ takes place. Thousands of young and old swimmers dive into the clean waters of the river.
Start of the football season
From August to the end of November, the top clubs of the Swiss Super League compete in the qualifying rounds for the championship, which is then played out from March onwards. As Basel’s football (soccer) team, FCB, is once again one of the country’s top teams, its home matches are major community events, attended by over 30'000 spectators. The atmosphere in St. Jakob Park is quite unique. Even international top clubs are impressed, when they play FC Basel in the Champions League.
Swiss Indoors Basel
In October, the attention of tennis fans around the world turns to the ‘St. Jakobshalle’ in Basel, when the international Swiss Indoors Basel tennis competition is staged for the top players on the men’s circuit.
Basel City Run
The traditional ‘Basler Stadtlauf’ (Basel City Run) is held on the last weekend of November. Young and old alike compete along a route which takes them through the attractive, decorated and often chilly city centre.
- Photo: Basel Tourismus
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.
The people of Basel describe their carnival as the "drey scheenschte Dääg" (the three most beautiful days) in the year. And the city is turned upside down. The Basler Fasnacht takes place between the middle of February and mid-March. The Basler Fasnacht (carnival) lasts 72 hours – from 4.00 a.m. on Monday morning to 4.00 a.m. on Thursday. And, as always, it promises to be an unforgettable experience for young and old. Piccolos and drums, together with “Guggenmusiken”, shape the world of sound, and the colourful costumes and "Larven" (masks) enliven the appearance of the city streets.
The start of the Basler Fasnacht is the “Morgenstreich” (morning parade), which takes place on Monday at exactly four a.m. in the morning. Around 200 lanterns accompany the “Cliques” with their piccolos and drums through the darkened city centre. The lanterns show the so-called “Sujets” – events that have caused a stir in Basel over the last year – in a satirical form. In the restaurants, you can enjoy the traditional flour soup (gruel) and open onion and cheese pies.
On the Monday and Wednesday afternoons, from 1.30 p.m., more than 10,000 masked carnival participants present their “Sujets” along a predetermined carnival route with drums, piccolos and crazy Guggenmusik. They move through the city on foot and on floats, with lanterns and countless quirky accessories. «Zeedel» (slips of paper) are distributed, on which the “Sujets” are made fun of in amusing rhyming verses in Basel dialect. “Räppli” (confetti) is thrown from the floats, as well as oranges, mimosas and much more.
The Guggenkonzert (Guggemusic Concert)
On Tuesday evening the city centre belongs above all to the Guggenmusiken. Their deafening, crazy but also stirring open-air concerts on the Marktplatz, Barfüsserplatz and Claraplatz are enjoyed by thousands of Fasnacht fans from 8.00 p.m.
One of the highlights for the real fans of the Basler Fasnacht is the “Gässle”. The expression quite simply means following the large and small drum and piccolo formations in step at a slow march through the streets of the historic city centre, to listen to the old, familiar tunes, but also to all the new marches that are composed, and to let yourself be carried away for a few hours in the blissful Fasnacht feeling.
More than 60 “Schnitzelbänke” sing in groups in around 30 pubs and restaurants in the city centre on the Monday evening and Wednesday evening. They make fun of the events and incidents from politics, society and sport that have taken place during the last year - to various melodies and always in rhyming Basel dialect in verses that reveal the humorous or witty punch-line in the very last line.
How do you get to the Basler Fasnacht?
It’s best to come by train or, if you need to use your car, you should leave it in one of the multi-storey car parks on the outskirts of the city. The Basel public transport services offer a well-thought-out special timetable for both trams and buses. More about the Basler Fasnacht
The Basel pre-Fasnacht period
Weeks before the Morgenstreich, numerous pre-Fasnacht events set the mood for the Basler Fasnacht. The starting event is the presentation of the latest «Blaggedde» (carnival badge) and its subject. More about the Basel pre-Fasnacht
The Basel Autumn fair is the largest and oldest amusement fair in Switzerland. It is heralded by the Fair Bell of the Church of St. Martin at exactly 12 o’clock on Saturday before the 30th of October and ends on the following third Sunday evening. The large shopkeepers and experience market in Petersplatz lasts two days longer, so up until Tuesday evening.
An over 540-year-old tradition
The Basel Autumn fair is more than just the usual funfair or amusement park. With its tradition stretching back over 540 years and its special customs, it really is a part of the city’s living heritage. This traditional inner-city fair, also radiates far into the three-country region and attracts around a million people to Basel from home and abroad. The charm of this public festival surely emanates from the extremely high appreciation the Basel population bestow on it.
A central location
The Basel Autumn fair is held at seven venues in the city centre of Basel and in an exhibition hall. The venues are within easy reach by public transport (Trämli) or on foot.
Christmas city Basel
At the end of November, Basel turns into a Christmas city and, with numerous attractions, invites connoisseurs from near and far to enjoy its unique atmosphere. A particular emphasis is placed on the Christmas market, which is now not only held on the Barfüsserplatz, but also on the Münsterplatz. At this beautiful location above the Rhine, visitors can find a wide range of specialities, Christmas and gift articles, as well as a fine food and drink. And all this at the foot of the Basel Cathedral, and only a few steps from the Pfalz, from where you can obtain a fantastic view over pre-Christmas Basel.
Thousands of fairy lights and tastefully decorated Christmas trees invite you to enjoy an evening of Christmas shopping. The Christmas market on Barfüsserplatz boasts over 150 stalls, with everything you could think of. To complete the atmosphere, there are many concerts and inner city shows for young and old. Over the years, Basel has acquired a reputation as a wonderful Christmas city.