Fasnacht Cortège (Main Parade)
One of the highlights of the Basler Fasnacht are the two main parades that take place on Monday and Wednesday afternoon. About 11,000 masked participants on foot and on floats parade along a set route through the city center, displaying their “Sujets” or special carnival topics, which typically address local, national, or international political and cultural events or personalities in a fun or ironic form. Some groups, or cliques, are accompanied by their piccolo players and drummers. Most groups also hand out their own colorful sheets of paper (“Zeedel”) that make fun of local events and personalities in verse form, written in the unfathomable Basel dialect. Each clique is preceded by their large lantern (some barely clearing the tram wires) that illustrates their Sujet in colorful imagery and verse.
In addition, numerous other music groups called “Guggemusiken” play a very characteristic, highly rhythmic, and somewhat off-key music mainly driven by brass instruments, pipes, and drums.
People in the procession throw confetti (“Räppli”), oranges, yellow mimosa flowers, candy, and many other things to the spectators along the route. A note of caution—when the children see the sweets being thrown at the crowd, they tend to forget the potential dangers, so please watch your children and be sure that they stay clear of the moving wheels of the wagons.
For a complete map of the route of the cortège, click on http://fasnacht.ch/service/cortege-route/. As these parades wind through the main streets of Gross- and Kleinbasel, tram and bus services in these areas are halted Monday to Wednesday from lunchtime onwards (check out http://www.bvb.ch for their alternate transit program).