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Glimmer and Gloria in Basel

The windows of Swiss schools, homes and in this case a youth hostel are often decorated as advent calendars

(Keystone)

A special ceremony on November 23 will help Basel usher in the Christmas season earlier than any other place in the country. On that day, city officials will turn on the Christmas lights decorating the city's streets.

The ceremony will be accompanied by brass bands and a performance by the choir from the Basel Theatre. It'll be followed by a month of seasonal events designed to put the city in the Christmas spirit.

One of the highlights will be a special exhibition at the Museum of Cultures. Called "Glimmer and Gloria", it explores the art and history of advent calendars. The museum will put more than 200 objects from its own and private collections on display.

The exhibition is meant to "open doors" on how the tradition developed, tracing the first calendars back to Germany at the beginning of the 20th century.

Most of the calendars on show come from Germany, which is still the world's biggest producer. A series of fine examples from the former East Germany are also included in the exhibition.

After seeing the exhibition, it's well worth going on a guided "Advent" walk to admire the city decked out in its Christmas best. The tours start at 2:30 pm at the Basel Tourist Office each Saturday from December 2 to 23 and cost SFr15 ($8.43) per person.

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