Each fall for the last 542 years, Basel hosts its annual Herbstmesse or Fall Festival. Steeped in tradition, the Basel Herbstmesse attracts most of its crowds from Switzerland, France and Germany. This year over one million people were estimated to attend the festivities that spread out in some of the main areas of the city including: Münsterplatz, Barfüsserplatz, St. Petersplatz, and Messeplatz.
Each year, our son anxiously awaits the arrival of the “white wheel” or as others refer to it as, the Ferris wheel that provides stunning views over Basel. We tend to spend most of our time in Münsterplatz as the location is within walking distance from our home.
St. Petersplatz offers another lovely ambiance, with small booths selling jewelry, crafts, toys, and clothes, most of which are hand-made and though expensive, are top quality. Food is also abundant in this area serving anything from: corn on the cob, to the traditional sausage and bread, to Fondue and Raclette. There are also a plethora of rides for the little ones and a Robi Spielplatz area (a large play area catering to children of all ages) where children can frolic and play.
For such a small city (roughly 170,000 inhabitants) and one that rarely, if ever, gets mentioned in tour books (this pleases us though, as Basel is our home and we don’t want her streets crowded with mobs of tourists), Basel does a superb job of hosting memorable events throughout the year. The city is located on the beautiful Rhine River and borders France and Germany, which makes the city an ideal setting for a variety of great festivals.
Overall, the fair is a great way to welcome the fall and spend lazy days or evenings enjoying the different celebrations in the various areas. The public transportation in Basel is excellent so visitors can easily go from one location to the next. The festival lasts just about two weeks, which seems to pass all too quickly. And though each year we are sad to see the closing of the fair, with all the rides and stalls put meticulously away until the next year; the conclusion of Herbstmesse only means that the magic of the Basel Christmas markets are not too far away.