Basel Tourismus
Aeschenvorstadt 36
CH-4010 Basel
Tel. +41 61 268 68 68
Fax +41 61 268 68 70

The canton of Basel-Stadt, as its name suggests, is just the large city of Basel, one of the cultural capitals of Switzerland. It is a very international city-canton, at the crossroads of Switzerland, France and Germany.

It is difficult to describe Basel in one word. It is one of the cultural capitals of Switzerland, a university city with a wealth of cultural, historical and gastronomic attractions.

Its location on the Rhine, at the crossroads of Switzerland, France and Germany, makes it a very international city, and although it is a German-speaking city-canton, French is spoken with great pleasure. It is also the only Swiss city with direct access to the sea, as the Rhine is navigable from Basel to the North Sea.

Basel has many strengths, both from a tourist point of view with its magnificent old town and from an economic point of view with its flourishing pharmaceutical and chemical industry. But what makes it famous is of course its carnival, the most spectacular in Switzerland.

Carnival is a tradition that goes back to time immemorial and is celebrated in many countries, but only three carnivals are famous in the world: Rio, Venice and Basel!

The Basel Carnival begins on the Monday following Ash Wednesday, at 4am, with the joyous cacophony of the Morgestraich and its lantern parade. During 72 hours of madness, the "cliques" stroll through the streets, invade the pubs and shops, and fifes and drums resound throughout the city.

Roman Saturnalia and ancient Greek Dionysian festivals are the historical sources of Carnival. This archaic tradition linked to the seasonal and agricultural cycles was "recovered" by the Catholic Church to make it a kind of social "safety valve" where for once everything was allowed. This is why, in Basel as elsewhere, it is a colourful and totally crazy festival...