A week after most masquerades around the globe have shut down, the Swiss town of Basel is revving its engines for Fasnacht, the only Protestant carnival in the world.
Around since at least the 14th century, this European folk secret hasn’t succumbed to the globalization that’s propelled more famous carnivals into the global zeitgeist and onto the international travel circuit. Maybe that’s because this is one festival that doesn’t allow visitors to play crazy dress-up. Only members of local cliques, or recognized carnival groups, are allowed to participate.
Fasnacht has many hallmarks of more well known carnivals — street parades, outrageous costumes and late nights of revelry among them. However, the insanity of other carnivals isn’t part of the more orderly Basel event.
Many floats, displays, artistic lanterns and costumes address overtly political or social themes and current events. Everything is painstakingly organized – some might hazard a Swiss watch comparison – and it’s rare to see inebriated people on the street. Baslers take their carnival extremely seriously.
Basel Fasnacht runs this year from February 18 to 21, and kicks off at 4 a.m. on February 18.
More Fasnacht pictures available HERE.