As Basel prepares for its next three-day carnival to chase away the spirits of winter, it has extra cause for celebration. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)
Basel Fasnacht has been added to the UNESCO list of events exhibiting the “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity”. This is defined as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills recognised as part of a country's cultural heritage. It is sometimes called living cultural heritage.
Basel Fasnacht is the biggest carnival in Switzerland, featuring "Morgenstreich", a surreal parade. At 4am on the Monday morning after Ash Wednesday, the lights in the city are turned off and all the cliques (music groups) begin to play together in total darkness. Each clique travels with an illuminated lantern, decorated around the subject of political satire.
The event also features so-called 'Schnitzelbank' singers, who sing satirical verses in local dialogue about local or global current affairs. The singers appear regularly in the restaurants and bars and in the clique-cellars.The next Basel Fasnacht begins on 19 February.
Basel Fasnacht is the second Swiss folk tradition, after the Fête des Vignerons (Winegrowers Festival) in Vevey, to make the list. The chairman of the Basel Fasnacht committee says it's a boon for the region.