The Big Procession
On Monday afternoon the big procession or ‘CortegeCortegeThe Fasnacht parade on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.’ takes place. The ‘Cortege’ is carried out through the Fasnacht CommitteeFasnacht CommitteeThe Fasnacht committee is responsible for the smooth running of Fasnacht. and starts at 1:30 pm. In this procession the ‘Gugge musicGugge musicBrass and percussion carnival band or music. Originally cacophonous, nowadays more harmonious.’ bands perform as well as the CliquesCliquesCliques refer to the bigger groups which include drummers and flutists. . In addition other groups as ‘ChaisenChaiseIs a carriage with costumed figures.’, ‘WagenWagenIs a wagon which is pulled by a vehicle and which is filled with flowers, confetti and candy.’ and ‘EinzelmaskenEinzelmaskenThis refers to an individual in costumes who marches alone.’ take part. The ‘Cortege‘ lasts until 6:15 pm.
Those who take part in the ‘Cortege’ follow a pre-planned route. There is no specified starting place and there are no agreed formations which the groups follow.
The Fasnacht Committee creates various starting points from which the various groups can begin their procession. Once the groups begin the procession they are free to stop and take a break before continuing and passing the allotted ‘control points’ given by the Fasnacht Committee.
It is in the ‘Cortege’ that the groups present their chosen SubjectSubjectThe subject of Fasnacht refers to the themes presented during the official procession.. The costumes, masks (known as ‘LarveLarveLarve are masks which are in part made of laminated paper.’) and other components reflect the given subject the group has chosen to focus on. It is the cliques that engage with and provide the most detailed exhibition of their subject in the procession. All of the various components together create the so called ‘CliquenzugCliquenzugThis describes all the components of a Clique during the official procession.’.
Components of a ‘Cliquenzug’
Is a costumed individual who clears the way for his clique. The ‘Vortrab’ is also in costume but does not play an instrument. During the big procession the ‘Vortrab’ hands out the ‘ZeedelsZeedelThese are leaflets which are written in satirical verses.’ which refer to the paper leaflets on which the groups theme is written about.
Lanterns play a big role in Fasnacht. The lanterns themselves usually depict caricatures and are illuminated. They are carried by appointed lantern carriers on their shoulders or are pulled by a wagon. The paintings are usually painted by an artist or amateur. Each lantern illustrates a different aspect of the cliques theme. The lanterns can be as big as two to three meters high and can be viewed on Fasnacht Tuesday at Münsterplatz.
The musicians come after the LanternLanternLanterns are painted on canvas which is fixed to a three-dimensional wooden frame.. The music is played by and comprised of flutists, Drum major and drummers. The Drum major dictates which march pieces will be played and conducts the drummers following him with his stick. The mask of the drum major tends to be bigger than those of the other members of the clique. The reason for that is his key role in representing the subject or theme the clique is portraying.
The wagons are pulled by vehicles and are filled with flowers, confetti and candy. Wagons are only used in the official procession (‘cortege’) and are usually built and decorated by the members of the Cliques using them.
It may be that one of the components is missing. This depends on the capabilities of a clique.
An official guide from the Fasnacht committee is in charge of providing information concerning the participating cliques and their subjects. This ‘Fasnacht leader’ can be found at all Kiosks.
‘Wild’ group formations
Not all groups take part in the organised procession. Therefore they are also known as ‘wild’ group formations. These groups ‘go it alone’ and do not follow any prescribed route. Instead they begin later in the afternoon. This late start can be attributed to their participation in the ‘MorgenstreichMorgenstreichThis is the official start of Fasnacht in Basel.’ in which they marched later into the morning.
‘Wild’ Gugge music groups
There are also ‘Gugge music’ groups who perform spontaneously. These groups tend to be much smaller and only play in the evening.
Many of the visitors tend to stand on the bridges (Mittlere Brücke, Wettsteinbrücke). These bridges offer visitors a beautiful place from which they can see the old city and the Rhein. Other areas of the city which are worth watching the procession from are: Barfüsserplatz, Marktplatz, Wettsteinsplatz and Steinenberg.