Described by Baslers as "The Three Most Wonderful Days," I find it hard to disagree. And have been attending a minimum of Morgenstreich each year for several years and often the full three day ensemble. The credit crunch, however, has confined us to a simple affair of the Liestal Chienbaesen yesterday evening and the Basler Morgenstreich this morning.
Either in Marktplatz or Barfusserplatz, early arrival is essential to get an excellent position and vantage point from Morgenstreich. People gather in Marktplatz and Barfusserplatz for at least an hour before Morgenstreich. Well before the 4am lights out, the sense of anticipation is palable. The expectant crowd, eager with anticipation, lets out an unmistakable roar as the lights go out and the words "ATTENTION! MORGENSTRAICH FORWARD MARCH!" mark the start of this cultural institution so core to the Basler psyche.
The large illuminated lanterns accompanied by piccollo players and carried aloft lampoon the (mainly-political) events of the last year. Of course, this year the financial crisis came in for it's fair share of send-ups. The lantern pictured on the right shows a skeleton dancing on the graves of various banking and auto firms which had been bailed out by the governments.
The atmosphere at Morgenstreich, an event unique to Basel, is special and much looked forward to by Baslers. It's not difficult to see why this mix of picollos and politics is quite so intoxicating.
After a quick sleep at our hotel, we headed back to Schneidergasse behind Marktplatz for a spot of lunch at Hasenburg. Hasenburg is clearly a popular venue for the Fasnachtler (people participating in Fasnacht) and reservations are essential. Many turn up early to finish their lunch with plenty of time to take their positions in the Cortege at 13:30. From the 1st floor, glimpses of the Cortege can be caught and the cliques wandering the streets drumming out their Guggemusik of Grossbasel pass regularly. And Hasenburg do a great line in pork sausage as well - which is to be recommended.
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Mark Sukhija is a travel and wine blogger, photographer, tourism researcher, hat-touting, white-shirt-wearing, New Zealand fantatic and eclipse chaser. Aside from at least annual visits to New Zealand, Mark has seen eclipses in South Australia (2002), Libya (2006), China (2009) and Queensland (2012). After twelve years in Switzerland, Mark moved back to London in 2012. You can follow Mark on Twitter or Facebook