The Christmas Season in Basel

© dietrich varaklis

The Christmas season in Basel is a beautiful and exciting time filled with a plethora of Christmas-related activities. You can stroll through the charmingly decorated old town with its festively decked-out storefronts and its quaint alleys and squares adorned with Christmas lights and trees and remember that shops will be open on the two Sundays afternoons preceding Christmas. When strolling through the old town, it is worth taking a walk along the nativity scene path between Spalentor and Schifflände. If you prefer riding, why not take a ride on the “Wiehnachts-Drämmli” (Christmas tram), one of the ferries (all four ferries will be decorated for Christmas for the first time this year), or view the city lights on an evening boat ride through wintry Basel. Also for the first time this year, 18 inner courtyards in downtown Basel will be transformed into “magical courtyards,” where visitors can escape the hectic everyday life of Advent in these magical Christmas oases. The Käppelijoch—the Basel landmark on the Mittlere Brücke—is attracting special attention this year as it is decorated with a Christmas hat!

© kejia liu

Basel also hosts a multitude of Christmas events—you can choose from the many Christmas concerts and theater; treat the family to the Christmas circus, Cirque Noël de Bâle, or to the very special Christmas variety show at the Palazzo Colombino; join a Christmas tour; view the Christmas lights and decorations from the heights of the Münster towers or from a river cruise; pop into Theater Basel to get a daily dose of their musical Advent calendar; discover this year’s English-language Panto production of “Sleeping Beauty;” take in the special Christmas exhibits at several of Basel’s local museums; and bring the kids to meet the St. Nicks who will be riding through town on Harley Davidson motorcycles, strolling with a donkey at the Basel zoo and Lange Erlen animal park, and even paddling down the Rhein in dozens of kayaks and canoes!

© anne kohler

Arguably, the highlight of the holiday season is the Basel Christmas markets, which attract nearly one million visitors to Basel each year. With their around 200 stands of wares from traders and artisans, they are wonderful places to pick up some unique Christmas gifts while enjoying the decorated trees, lights, and a warm cup of mulled wine or cider. The two main Christmas markets can be found at Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz. Underscoring their high quality, they were voted “Best Christmas Market in Europe 2021,” and second-best in 2022, by the “European Best Destinations” ranking.

In addition, visitors can cross the festively lit Mittlere Brücke to the Kleinbasel side of the Rhein to enjoy some holiday spirit in the Rheingasse—a beautifully decorated street with fur-lined outdoor seating to enjoy traditional Swiss holiday food and drinks by open wood fires. And for the first time at Christmas, the Blickfang design fair will be presenting “Schöne Bescherung”—a design Christmas market with around 100 small design labels and manufacturers offering jewelry, culinary delights, as well as home and fashion accessories at Messe Basel. 

With all of these events and markets, Basel certainly deserves its reputation of being the most beautiful and largest Christmas city in Switzerland!

Check out our calendar to be sure not to miss these and other Holiday events this season!

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