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Basel Carnival, Switzerland

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What is the Basel Carnival?

The Basel Carnival, also known as the Basel Fasnacht or simply Fasnacht is an annual celebration held in the city of Basel, Switzerland. The city’s motto during the festivities is “die drey scheenschte Dääg“, which in English would be “The three most beautiful days“. In these three days, the city is completely transformed and the streets become a great stage where thousands and thousands of revelers with large and colorful costumes and masks will appear.

The Basel Carnival has permeated deep into the city’s society, which has made it part of the identity of each and every inhabitant. On the three most beautiful days of the year, the city and its inhabitants are turned upside down, starting exactly on the Monday after Ash Wednesday at 4 a.m. The city thrills with the hundreds of musicians and drummers who pass through the streets with their impressive masks and costumes in hundreds of colors.

 

 

The Basel Carnival is the largest carnival in Switzerland, boasting some 200,000 visitors every year and around 11,000 revelers who are part of the various groupings and guilds. Due to the greatcultural contribution and its historical importance, the Basel Fasnacht has been listed as one of the fifty most important festivals in Europe. In addition, it was also incorporated into the list of Unesco as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity..

The tradition of carnival has been present in the city has been present in the city for centuries, but has integrated new elements such as characters and celebrations over the years. The characters are something of paramount importance in the celebrations, these are in constant motion during Fasnacht. Five of them have a long tradition and are the most popular. In addition, some of them are based on the Commedia dell’Arte of Italy, while others are inspired by local events.

 

The Basel Carnival is a three-day celebration full of satire and color

The Basel Carnival is a three-day celebration full of satire and color

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When is the Basel Carnival

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The Basel Carnival or Basel Fasnacht is a particular celebration, as it is not celebrated before Lent, but after Lent. The reason for this is due to a series of reforms that took place in the 16th century.

The Basel carnivals take place on 4 official days, beginning and ending at 4 am. The Basel Carnival will take place from approximately February 22 to 24.

 

 

History of the Basel Carnivals

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The beginnings of the Basel carnival are not known exactly, as the documents containing this information were lost after the earthquake in the year 1356. For this reason,the oldest document about the Basel Carnival dates from 1376..

The tradition of Carnival in Basel has its origins from Celtic and Germanic practices related to ancestor worship, fertility rites and the expulsion of winter. Over time, other elements were also integrated, influenced by military and political events and, of course, religious festivities before Lent.

During the time of the reformation, a Christian religious movement that began in the sixteenth century, the celebrations began to diminish, even to be banned on some occasions. In this way, the carnival became a resistance movement against the authorities that ruled society at the time. In this same century, the guilds and groups began to form an important part of the carnival, which integrated military elements that are still preserved today.



In the 19th century, they began to have profound transformations, thefirst formations of Cliques began to emerge, the Schnitzelbank made their appearance for the first time and the percussion band began to be incorporated into the celebrations. In addition, the parades began to take on deeper political overtones to the point of satirizing politics. In the mid-19th century, the first Morgenstreich, the first ceremony of the carnival was held in which peopleparade through the alleys with burning torches and lights.

The Basel Carnival took its present form during the Second World War and after it, many more groupings, guilds and formations were established. In addition, the costumes, masks and carnival elements began to be produced in a more sophisticated form, as well as new elements began to be integrated into the festivities. In 1911, they began producing the first Blaggedde or Fasnacht badges in order to create funds to finance the festivities.

Due to the rich tradition and uniqueness of the event during the 3-day celebration, the Unesco added the Basel Fasnacht celebration to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2007.

 

Where is the Basel Carnival

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The carnival is held in thecity of Basel, a city in Switzerland located in the north of the country, near the border of Germany and France..

The city of Basel has a total area of 22.75 square kilometers where some 177,595 people reside.

 

Music is also part of the Basel Carnival

Music is also part of the Basel Carnival

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How is the Basel Carnival celebrated

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The Basel Carnivals feature a plethora of activities that take place over the 3 days of carnival. The whole event is one big explosion of cultural manifestations, thousands of colorful costumes, music, percussion bands, musical performances, masks, floats and tons of confetti. In addition, the carnivals have a lot of events that take place before the official festivities.

Basel Carnival features a generous amount of characters, all of whom perform different tasks, march or play music during the Carnival season.

 

Characters

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The carnival characters are count with a great importance in the carnival festivities. Each of these characters fulfills a specific task or personality. In addition, each of them has unique and singular characteristics. The masks that the characters put on are known as Larve. To this day, most of the guilds and participants still craft their masks by hand. Likewise, many groups still design and create their own costumes and masks.

 

Harlekin

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Corresponds to the figure of a arlekin, originally known as Arlecchino. This is a traditional character from the Commedia dell’Arte of Italy. The conventional costume of the character is plaid clothing, cape, lechuguilla, pompoms and baggy pants.

 

Waggis

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He is a caricatured character of a German shepherd peasant from the 19th century. His character has changed over the years, as today the clothes are made up of various colors and his nose is getting bigger and bigger. This character boasts a bold and boisterous personality.

 

Dummpeter

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This character features a somewhat childish characteristic, with chubby cheeks and glasses. His origin is not entirely clear and it is believed that his name was formerly “Drummpeter”, which in English would be trumpeter; however, it became “Dummpeter”, a play on words for “Stupid Peter“.

 

Alti Dante

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It depicts an elderly or old lady and emerged in the late 19th century. Her clothing and accessories are often reminiscent of theBiedermeier era furniture style famous in early 19th-century Germany.

 

Ueli

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Symbolizes a medieval jester, wearing a typical costume of the same. The upper in lower garments are of different colors and have two horns falling on the sides of his head. In addition, he possesses some bells attached to his body, so he jingles as he walks.

 

Blätzlibajass

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It is an embodiment of a pun between Plätzli, hundreds of pieces of cloth and Bajass, a word in his dialect for bajazzo, a clown that is part of the Commedia dell’Arte.

 

Carnivals feature certain groupings that fulfill a large number of roles or formations. Some of these form an important role within the parades or Cortège, while others fulfill a role directed toward themusical presentations.

If you want to know more about tourism in this country, I recommend you this guide:.

 

Cliques

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It is a term that encompasses all the groups that are an active part of the carnivals. One of the first formations that began to emerge in the 19th century thanks to associations and guilds. The Cliques are societies whose sole purpose is to participate in the Carnival. Some come from specific suburbs, reflected in some of their official names. During Carnival festivities, they march through the city center with drums and piccolos.

 

Gugge

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These are marching bands made up ofmetal wind instruments playing a genre known as “Guggenmusik.” These bands began to emerge in the mid-19th century. Today, the carnival has around 70 groups of this type with more than 2,000 participants who take part in the parades and concerts, mainly on Tuesday night. The groups can play both in public squares and in restaurants or bars.

 

Wagon cliques

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These are characters who present and perform themes on their elaborate and artistic vehicles. In addition, these masked figures drop or distribute flowers, oranges and other treats. They also drop confetti, one of the most important traditions of carnivals that began centuries ago. The amount of confetti available at theBasel carnivals is superior to many other carnivals in the region.

 

Schnitzelbank

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They are performing artists which focus on current events. Each verse deals with a different topic and can talk about the politics, sports, economy and society that made the headlines during the past year. In addition, the verses are recited with goodrhythm, a sense of humor and satirical elements. The performances are usually accompanied by amusical instrument. Schnitzelbank performers can be found mainly in restaurants and wineries.

 

Schyssdräggziigli

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These are independent groups that are not part of any clique or grouping; however, they parade through the streets accompanied by bands.

There are currently more than300 Cliques, wagon Cliques and Gugge, with many more registering each year. In addition, the carnivals feature more than 100 Schnitzelbank performers.

 

As is natural for a carnival party of major proportions, the Basel Fasnacht features some star celebrations that take place even before and after the official festivities:

Official Celebrations

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Morgenstreich

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The Morgestraich is the first celebration of the carnival which starts at 4 am. During the event, allthe lights in the old town of Basel are turned off, while the streets are transited by the large lamps in the form of a mural and small colored lamps that the cliques wear on their heads. During the event there are only two types of lanterns: The Zugslaterne or Parade lanterns which are carried on wheels by several people due to their large size and the Kopflaternen, small lanterns on the heads of the participants. Traditional carnival uniformsare not normally worn at the event nor is any Guggenmusik played..

Many venues open their doors at 4 a.m. and remain open throughout the carnivals, serving local food and carnival dishes.

 

Laternenausstellung or Lamp Exhibitions

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After the parade on Monday, thecliques display the various Zugslaterne with hundreds of different designs. The display takes place on the Mánsterplatz square. It is during the night that the large lanterns stand out even more, especially all their details and styles. Some of the lanterns feature polite characters, creative designs and any number of themes you can imagine.

 

Cortège

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The Cortège is the name given to street parades and at the Basile carnivals they happen twice. More than 10,000 jerguitas take to the streets of the city to unveil their various formations and themes that traditionally change every year. All cliques participate, whether large or small, including large themed floats with characters, horse-drawn floats and the Gugges. In addition, the large chandeliers are a must during the parades.

 

Schnitzelbanks

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These are events in whichsatirical rhyming songs are playedare elements of carnival humor. The singers are the ones who compose the songs, to which they integratepolitical and social eventss that occurred during the last year in rhymed and witty verses. The singers of Schnitzelbank perform in restaurants and theaters on Monday and Wednesday nights. On Tuesday evenings inliquor cellars and private homes. In addition, various illustrations that change with each song can be seen during the performances.

 

Post Carnival

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Bummel-Sonntage or Strolling Sundays

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On the three Sundays after Fasnacht, all Groups of Cliques and Guggenmusik take to the streets to participate in the festivities for the last time. The groups go on a short trip to somewhere outside Basel, usually including a visit to a restaurant. Later in the evening, the groups return to Basel in normal street clothes, without costumes or masks and parade for the last time through the city.

 

Tips for going to the Basel Carnivals

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Planning

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If you decide to attend the Basel carnivals, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making a travel itinerary and booking your accommodation in advance. Also, remember to pack comfortable clothes so you can fully enjoy your carnivals.

The streets of the city are transformed into a sea of people during the Basel Fasnacht, so we recommend arriving as early as possible. Do not bring backpacks or bags to the event so as not to disturb others and remember to arrange meeting points with your friends or family in case someone gets separated from the group.

 

Costumes

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The only people allowed to wear costumes during Basel carnivals are Cliques or people actively participating in the festivities, so you are prohibited from wearing costumes, face paint or wearing wigs. The only ones allowed to wear costumes are children.

Carnivals have a Fasnacht badge, known as Blaggedde. These small badges have great sentimental value and are for sale, so you can buy them from any street vendor, kiosk or stall.

 

Safety

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During the night, try not to take flash photography or throw any kind of fireworks.

Do not throw back confetti, especially at Cliques or groupings, as the masks have small openings where people see and breathe and when throwing confetti, these holes could get clogged. Also, don’t throw back any candy, sweets or oranges thrown at you in the parade.

Try to get to the celebrations via public transportation, as during the festivities some streets are closed, making it difficult for cars to move freely.

 

Events in Basel Carnival?

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The Basel carnivals have a fairly well-defined schedule ofactivities that take place before, during and after the carnivals. We will offer you below the events taking place at the Basel Fasnacht festivities in 2021, but remember to keep an eye on the official website of the events.

 

Pre-Carnival events

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Prior to the official celebration, the city offers itsvarious entertainment venues to hold events related to the Carnival festivities, mainly musical, theatrical or concert celebrations. These celebrations include instruments and elements that are specific to Basel Carnival. In addition, on some occasions there are also the Schnitzelbanks who also perform satirical and humorous presentations.

 

Morgenstreich

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In the event, thetour through the city takes place with the large lamps in the form of murals, accompanied by the Cliques and various groups that are part of the festivities. People pass through very early in the morning to illuminate every corner of the city with the brightness transmitted by the lamps.

Day: 22.02.2021

Time: 4 am.

Place: The main streets of the city, Casco Historico.

 

Laternenausstellung or Lamp Exhibitions.

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After the parade on Monday evening, the lamps are located in the city square for people to visit and admire. The lamps possess of a large size and occupy diverse designs of various themes. You can find some manifestations of political rejection or works of art from different movements.

Day: 22. – 24.02.2021

Place: Münsterplatz

 

 

Children’s Carnival

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The city center becomes an enclosure for children and their parents to be part of the carnival traditions. Children dress up in various costumes, arm themselves with drums and musical instruments and parade through the streets on floats while distributing candy and leaflets that they make themselves.

Day: 23.02.2021

Place: Streets of the city, Casco Historico.

 

Guggenkonzert

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About 60 Guggenmusik bands equipped with trumpets, trombones, tubas, drums and cymbals gather at the Square to parade through the city center and various squares. Concerts* are organized during the evening, but some bands also play before and after the event in restaurants and various plazas.

Day: 23.02.2021

Time: 7:30 – 11 pm

Place: Masseplatz, Clarastrasse, Barfüsserplatz, Marktplatz and Claraplatz.

 

Cortège

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More than 11,000 participants take to the streets to party with great effervescence. All Fasnacht formations, large or small, take to the streets with huge floats, themed masks, Guggenmusik bands, large lanterns and horse-drawn floats. From the floats, the various groupss throw confetti to the unsuspecting, while some others offer candy and flowers to children and women.

Day: 22.02.2021 | 24.02.2021.

Time: 1:30 pm

Place: Downtown, two tracks are made, one going clockwise, while the other goes counterclockwise.

 

Endstreich or Culmination Ceremony

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Before the end of the carnivals, people begin to congregate on Wednesday night and the streets go into uproar. Participants leave between midnight and 4 am to enjoy one of the most effervescent events of the festivities. Just before 4 am on Thursday morning, the Cliques and Gugge groups congregate at their regular meeting places and play a final march or some piece of music to mark the end of the carnival.

Date:25.02.2021

Time: until 04:00 am

 

Schnitzelbanks

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These are several events that take place in some city squares and private venues such as restaurants, bars and wineries. A group of Cliques congregate to perform a series of songs, verses or musical pieces to which they integrate political or social elements that happened in the last year. In addition, each song or piece has a small design that gives the audience an idea of what the song is about.

 

Post Carnival Events

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Bummel-Sonntage

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This is an event that takes place 3 Sundays after the festivities. The Clique and Guggenmusik groups take to the streets to party one last time. In addition, they go out of town to attend some establishment, usually a restaurant. Upon their return, they arrive back in the city in normal clothes and parade for the last time in the city.

 

During the Basel Carnival there is a parade in the early morning with big bright lamps

During the Basel Carnival there is a parade in the early morning with big bright lamps

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Basel Carnival Parades

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Parades are held on two occasions during the carnival festivities. In each of the editions, all the groups take to the streets to party with music, beautiful costumes and masks. The streets are filled with great carnival excitement. Through the streets pass the big floats from which the characters throw candy, oranges and confetti and you also see the big lamps with images of various colors.

 

Parade route

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The Basel Carnival parade takes place twice

The Basel Carnival parade takes place twice

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The parade takes place in the historic center of the city. There are two routes: one that goes clockwise through the city and the other that goes counterclockwise. One of the routes delivers sweet candies and oranges, while the other throws confetti.

 

The Mehlsuppe is a traditional soup eaten at the Basel carnivals

The Mehlsuppe is a traditional soup eaten at the Basel carnivals

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What to eat at the Basel Carnival

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One of the Carnival traditions in Balisea is to eat Mehlsuppe, a traditional flour soup to which onion, butter and cheese are also added. It is a traditional carnival soup eaten after the Morgenstreich.

One of the sweets you can try is the Faschtewajie. These are small discs of wheat flour, eggs, butter and sugar that are fried in plenty of oil. Once cooked, they are sprinkled with sugar.

In addition, the city offers some places you can visit during the holidays as: Restaurant Viertel-Kreis, Schlusselzunft and Restaurant Atelier im Teufelhof..

 

Faschtewajie are traditional carnival sweets from the city of Basel

Faschtewajie are traditional carnival sweets from the city of Basel

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Travel Insurance

 

From Carnavalesdelmundo.org we recommend to hire a good insurance to visit this carnival and to know the rest of the country. For being our readers we offer a 5% discount on all IATI insurance. Read more information about all insurance offers here:

 

 

What to see and do inside the Basel Carnival

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Once you find yourself at the carnivals, they have agreat range of activities you can attend. One of them is the Morgenstreich. If you feel like waking up nice and early in the morning, you can attend to be at this wonderful ceremony with lanterns across the city. If you couldn’t make it to the event that day, you can visit the lamps during other hours in different areas of the city.

The Guggenkonzert is one of the most fun events you can attend and you can watch dozens of Guggenmusik bands perform a spectacular event for the thousands of spectators. The Cortèges are a must, as they feature the thousands of participants parading in the streets, the floats and the lanterns that are also part of the performance.

If you missed the opening event, you’ll want to make up for those lost hours at the Endstreich. The event features great entertainment and ends right at 4 am. If yous decide to extend your visit a few more weeks, you can see the Bummel-Sonntage, the last parade that the Cliques perform.

Don’t forget toattend the Schnitzelbanks events so you can witness a great event with a good sense of humor.

If you don’t want to complicate things, here you can book interesting excursions in Spanish in this city:.

Guided tours in Spanish around the world

 

What to see and do outside of the Basel Carnivals

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Some of the tourist attractions you can visit during your visit are:

Basler Papiermühle

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This is an incredible museum that manufactures paper, art for prints and writing in general. Also, take a tour where you can see the various combinations of paintings and objects. The tour offers craft demonstrations of book making.

 

Old Town

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It is a set of several streets where you can walk quietly or take a stroll. It also has a large number of stores, squares and historic buildings around it.

 

Kunstmuseum Basel

This is a museum of fine arts, whose collection began in 1662 in collaboration with the city council and the University of Basel. Inside you can find works by Vincent Van Gogh, Jean Dubuffet and Pablo Picasso.

Also if you want to visit museums and important buildings in this city we recommend that you book your ticket in advance through Tiquets: .

Book tickets in the city you are visiting

 

Safety at the Basel Carnival

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The city of Basel is extremely safe, so you don’t have to worry if you decide to walk the streets both day and night.

Keep your items in a safe place to avoid losing them and contact the authorities if you manage to identify any suspicious activity. Also, we recommend the following products to keep your belongings safe:

 

 

Weather at the Basel Carnival

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The weather in Basel during carnival is quite cold, with temperatures ranging from 7 to 0 degrees Celsius. We advise you to pack thick coats for the festivities.

 

Basel Carnival features unique and particular characters

Basel Carnival features unique and particular characters

 

How to get to the Basel Carnival

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How to get there by plane

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The closest airport to the city is Basel-Mulhouse-Fribourg Airport, which is only 9 minutes away from the city and is located in French territory. From here, you can use the different means of transport to reach the city.

You can also use Zurich Airport; however, this is 90 kilometers from the city.

We recommend buying airline tickets through Kiwi.com or Skyscanner where they are usually cheaper. More information on this link to review Kiwi.com..

 

How to get there by train

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From Zurich you can take a direct train to the city of Basel via Swiss Railways. The journey time is 1 hour and 30 minutes.

 

How to get there by bus

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From Basel-Mulhouse-Fribourg Airport you can take a BVB bus directly to the city. The ride is 9 minutes and costs about $5.

 

How to get there by car

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From Basel-Mulhouse-Friburg Airportor you can take the A35 road. The drive is 9 minutes.

 

Where to stay at the Basel Carnival

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Booking.com

 

Hyperion Hotel Basel

4-star hotel 1.3 km from the city center. Rooms feature air conditioning, cable TV and bathroom. The hotel offers airport transfers, restaurant, bar and room service.

 

Gast – und Kulturhaus Der Teufelhof Basel

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3-star hotel 300 meters from the city center. The hotel has a Bar, gym, wifi and free parking.

 

Hotel Rochat

3-star hotel 350 meters from the city center. The hotel has 90 rooms, restaurant, parking and free wifi.

We recommend you use Booking.com to book hotels at a good price, check more information here:.



 

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