From the refugee crisis to the strong franc, it was the burning political issues that got the Swiss carnival treatment in Basel on Monday morning.
In one of Switzerland’s largest ‘Fasnacht’ celebrations, costumed revellers make their way through the streets in the early hours of the morning, playing music on flutes and drums, and parading large illustrated lanterns, often making a satirical political point.
Festivities start at 4am, when the streetlights are switched off and the eerie sound of flutes and drums fill the air for what’s known as ‘Morgestraich’. Around 10,000 people lined the Swiss city’s streets to watch the masked musicians make their way past the crowds.
The carnival’s motto this year, "Mer mache dicht" or “We’re closing down”, refers to the business that has been taken away from Basel’s shops, as the Swiss choose to go over the nearby border into Germany for their shopping. They can take advantage of the exchange rate and savings to be made since the Swiss franc was unpegged from the euro over a year ago.
The elaborate illuminated lanterns also depicted the issue of refugee numbers that have come to Europe and the tightening of border restrictions.
Sepp Blatter also featured in the lanterns, for his part at the helm of world football’s governing body, FIFA, and the ongoing corruption investigations into the organisation.
(Photos: Keystone, text: Renat Kuenzi, translated by Jo Fahy)