3-day Lenten carnival kicks off in Switzerland

The famed three-day carnival in Basel, Switzerland, got underway at the traditional start time of 4 a.m. on Monday, with a lights-out parade through the city’s oldest neighborhood.

Revelers began an annual three-day carnival in Basel, Switzerland, on Monday with a pre-dawn parade. Photo by Georgios Kefalas/EPA-EFE
Revelers began an annual three-day carnival in Basel, Switzerland, on Monday with a pre-dawn parade. Photo by Georgios Kefalas/EPA-EFE

The parade — known as Basler Fastnacht, or Basel’s Shrove Tuesday carnival — kicks off an annual celebration that ends exactly 72 hours later.

Costumes, simultaneous marching parades, music, confetti and a less intense children-only parade are among the event’s highlights.

Tens of thousands lined Basel’s streets in darkness waiting for the carnival’s opening parade, called “Morgastraich.” Streetlights went dark and a lantern-lit procession began.

Parade floats satirized current events and world figures, including President Donald Trump and North Korea.

This year, the event has a new distinction. It was added last year to UNESCO’s List of Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is also the last of Switzerland’s pre-Easter carnivals– and as a Protestant celebration, the country’s only non-Catholic festivity.

By Ed Adamczyk