lanterns and full moon at Vogel Gryff

Basel In January 2016

Barbara Klein Basel, Events Leave a Comment

The new year is not yet one month old and we celebrate the first highlight in Basel:

Vogel Gryff

Vogel Gryff is the most important holiday in Glaibasel (little Basel on the right bank side of the river Rhine) and is always celebrated in January, 13, 20 or 27 alternately. The three figures – Wilde Maa (the savage), Leu (the lion) and Vogel Gryff (the griffin) – represent the three traditional societies, dating back to 14th century.

It starts with the Wilde Maa floating down the river Rhine on a raft, landing at the Kaserne (barracks) where his two companions meet him and the first dance takes place (all in all they will perform 53 dances!).

Read more about the procession and its history in a blog post I have written four years ago.

My grandfather was a proud member of one of the three societies and I remember him being dressed all in black: in a suit, coat and hat, shoes polished to a brilliant shine.

A long day for the society members: meeting up in the morning and toasting the celebration with a first glass of white wine or beer, followed by a festive lunch lasting well into the afternoon, interspersed by speeches and dances of the three figures.


Vogel Gryff and Ueli

The 4 Uelis are collecting money for the needy

In the evening the three figures are joined by Olympia (a clique of fifers and drummers) with their Stäggebuebe (boys carrying lanterns). This is one of the loveliest moments when the lit lanterns gently sway in the dark night and the well known marches are being played.


Vogel Gryff and lanterns

In the evening: Stäggeladärne

Mark your agenda:
the next Vogel Gryff will take place on
Friday, January 13, 2017


Check out the route on the website Vogel Gryff.

Gearing Up For Fasnacht (carnival)

It is time now for the active Fasnacht participants to put the finishing touches to their costumes and masks. And put in extra practice time on their instruments.

Foreign visitors and newcomers will find helpful information and tips on the website of the Fasnachts-Comité (the association organising everything around Fasnacht).

It is also a busy time for all the pre-Fasnacht events such as Drummeli, Charivari, Mimösli, Ridicule, Fasnachtsbändeli, Pfyfferli, Zofingerconzärtli etc. You will find a list of all the shows here.

I saw the Charivari this year and enjoyed a lovely performance of excellent music, witty and contemplative sketches and Schnitzelbank singers.



The Drummeli is the traditional pre-event organized by the Fasnachts-Comité. More than 1’300 participants perform traditional Fasnacht marches, sketches and Schnitzelbank singers.

Tickets are still available, click here for more information.



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