Liestal’s Fiery “Chienbäse” Parade

© kevin dennis müri, liestal
Sunday, 18 February

Although not a part of the Basel Fasnacht, this most unusual event takes place every year on the eve of the Basel Fasnacht in the nearby town of Liestal, just 15 minutes from Basel—the “Chienbäse” parade. For this unique tradition, which is supposedly derived from pagan fire rituals to drive the winter away, participants prepare huge “brooms” from kindling wood, light them on fire, and then carry them along a parade route through the town center. In addition, about 20 metal wagons stacked with tons of burning wood are also pulled along the route. This is a truly spectacular sight, particularly when the brooms and wagons pass through the old city gates and the flames reach several stories high. This spectacular fiery custom, which is supposed to put an end to winter, is attended by 30,000 to 50,000 onlookers every year
To see this amazing event, it is best to take public transport to Liestal as parking is very limited. The SBB and tram ticket machines offer special “Chienbäse” tickets to get there (no need if you have a U-Abo or GA). The event starts at 19:15, but you should try to arrive there early as it gets very crowded. Be aware that the fires of the brooms give off flying embers and very intense heat; you should wear old clothes and consider keeping to the back rows of spectators. Also, the organizers recommend that you don’t visit the event with children under age 6 or else watch from a distance; you may also want to go towards the end of the parade route where the crowds are less dense. Finally, remember that if you lift kids onto your shoulders, the heat is always more intense higher up. For the route of this spectacular parade, see their website.


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