Fasnacht Wrap-Up

The 2022 Basel Fasnacht will likely go down in history, but for different reasons than usual. After the event had to be cancelled for two years in a row—something that did not even happen during the Spanish Flu epidemic or either of the two World Wars—die-hard Fasnachers were given the green light to take to the streets. However, as the two Cortèges (main parades) on Monday and Wednesday had been cancelled months ago, along with the organized Guggemusik concerts, the Fasnacht ended up being a hodge-podge of “anything-goes”! It was an unprecedented mix of large Cliques impressing with their giant lanterns and marching bands, small Cliques wandering in just about any costume and formation, spontaneous Guggemusik concerts taking place wherever possible, children participating on all three days, non-participants wearing costumes and face make-up (something normally heavily frowned upon during a Basel Fasnacht)—and all of this going on everywhere and at all hours of the day and night. Some Cliques managed to create new lanterns in time for this event, while others chose to show off the ones they had so beautifully created for the 2020 Fasnacht that was cancelled only a few days before the start. The mood was a mixed bag of euphoria about the release from restrictions; caution for the ever-present coronavirus; and sadness, anxiety, and even guilt, for celebrating in the streets while innocent Ukrainian civilians are living their worst hell just 2,000 km from Basel.

From the emergency services’ point of view, the Basel Fasnacht 2022 went quietly and without any major incidents. About 10 fights and assaults were reported to the operations center and from time to time, the cantonal police had to intervene, mediate, and call for order. Four carnival masks were stolen in addition to five other thefts reported to the police. Over the course of the three days, the police had to reunite a total of 17 children with their companions. The emergency medical response had to be called around 40 times over the 72 hours in connection with excessive alcohol consumption, falls, or other problems that required medical interventions. Three people had to sleep off their intoxication in a police station.  For this year’s carnival, the police had to remove a total of 251 two-wheelers and three passenger cars.

The clean-up effort from the 2022 Basler Fasnacht was also much easier than in previous years, with “only” a total of 108 tons of Räppli (confetti) and other carnival waste to be cleared away. This comparatively low value is due to this year’s absence of the Cortège as well as the dry weather, as the humidity from water or snow adds significant weight to the paper Räppli. Over the past 10 years, even when the weather was dry, city services had to remove an average of around 240 tons of carnival waste annually, and this amount climbed to a staggering 420 tons during wet-weather carnivals.

So overall, the 2022 Fasnacht was unique but definitely a success for almost all participants, with the exception of the Cliques that could not create their beautiful wagons and floats for the parades. But hopefully, the 2023 edition will be able to be held in its full format; it will take place from 04:00 on Monday, February 27 to 04:00 on Thursday, March 2, 2023.