Discovering the Basel autumn fair

By Serena Pedrioli

Autumn is a magical season, and there is no better place to experience its unique atmosphere than at the Basel Autumn Fair. This charming Swiss city is dressed in warm colors and golden hues, making every corner a living picture.

Today I will take you on a tour of the Baseler Herbstmesse, revealing its hidden secrets.

Baseler Herbstmesse

The Basel Autumn Fair is a treasure of the city's cultural heritage and has an impressive 550 years of history. This traditional fair covers the territory of three nations (Dreiland) and attracts one million visitors from Switzerland and abroad each year. For two weeks, seven different downtown squares and a fair pavilion are filled with attractions and culinary delicacies. From Barfüsserplatz to Messeplatz, from Petersplatz to the majestic cathedral: you can experience the thrill of breathtaking rides, explore traditional stalls and immerse yourself in nostalgic attractions. A unique experience that enchants the senses and captures the authentic spirit of Basel.

Cathedral (Münster) of Basel.

Save the dates! This year the Baseler Herbstmesse will take place from 10/28 until 11/12/2023.

Table of Contents

The fascinating history of the Basel Autumn Fair

In the heart of the city of Basel, a centuries-old tradition is revealed through the lively atmosphere of the Autumn Fair. Its history is rooted in the late Middle Ages, when a major economic and population growth following the council of 1431-1448 prompted the city to seek new ways to stimulate the economy. In 1449, to cope with an economic crisis, Basel decided to hold an annual fair, gaining official permission from German Emperor Frederick III in 1471.

Every year since then, the city has been transformed into a lively spectacle, with vendors displaying their wares, performances by street performers and the irresistible gastronomic dishes that have delighted visitors for centuries. The attractions have gone through an amazing evolution from mazes and tunnels of horrors to modern free-fall towers, always maintaining an irresistible charm.

One fascinating detail is the official opening, a much-anticipated event that happens every year on the last Saturday before October 30 at 12 noon sharp. The bells of the Martinskirche ring out, announcing the start of the Fall Fair. Since 2023, Florian von Bidder has taken on the important task of continuing this tradition, receiving a pair of gloves as a symbol of his role. A tradition that encompasses centuries of magic and mystery, showing Basel’s deep connection to its history and people.

Here's what you absolutely must not miss at the Herbstmesse

Explore Swiss Tradition

The Basel Autumn Fair is the perfect place to immerse yourself in rich Swiss tradition. Amidst stalls of local handicrafts, delicious gastronomic products and engaging folkloric performances, you will have the opportunity to discover the authentic soul of Basel.

Hunt for Antique Treasures

If you are fond of vintage items and unique pieces, the Fall Fair is a treasure hunter’s paradise. You will find stalls full of antiques, paintings, jewelry and more. Dig through the exhibits and take home a special keepsake that will stay with you forever.

Gastronomic Delights

Swiss cuisine is world-famous, and at the Fall Fair you will have the opportunity to savor its delights. From savory fondues to high-quality Swiss chocolate, your palate will be in for a treat. Don’t forget to try the famous Swiss Bretzels, perfect for a snack while exploring the fair, or warm up while sipping a tasty glühwein.

Events and Shows

In addition to the stalls, the Basel Autumn Fair offers a number of exciting events and performances. From musical performances to street theater, there is always something interesting to see. Be sure to check out the schedule of events so you don’t miss the performances that interest you most.

To orient you within the Fair

Map of attractions in the city of Basel.

Barfüsserplatz: The Greedy Heart of Basel

Located in the heart of the city, this charming square is the perfect place for those who are short on time but want to enjoy authentic Basel cuisine. At the cozy candy stands, you can find delicious “Mässmogge” (hazelnut candies) and indulgent “Rahmtäfeli” (cream candies), true delicacies that represent the best of the local culinary tradition.

In addition to gastronomic treasures, the Barfüsserplatz is also a perfect meeting place for friends. With a cozy atmosphere and a space that is not too dispersed, it is the perfect place to relax, enjoy local delicacies, and socialize with your fellow travelers.

Barracks "Kaserne": Fun and Strong Emotions

If you are looking for an experience full of thrills and adrenaline, the Kaserne area in Little Basel is the place for you and your family! There are numerous attractions that are especially popular with children and teens, and you can’t miss the food stands.

Messeplatz and the Indoor Fair

This charming corner of Basel welcomes you with a long street of food stands offering a wide selection of local and international culinary delights. It is a food lover’s paradise, with inviting scents and flavors that will satisfy every palate.

But the Messeplatz is much more than just a gastronomic feast. Here, major attractions await you at every turn. From classic fairground games to breathtaking entertainment, there is always something exciting to do. Great classics, from Ferris wheels to bumper cars, will capture the attention of visitors of all ages. The buzzing atmosphere and infectious energy make every moment spent here an unforgettable experience.

This year, for the first time, the Indoor Fair is located in Hall 1 of the Messeplatz. Inside there is a mix of old classics and new attractions.

Other Unmissable Fair Squares: Hallenmesse, Petersplatz & Hääfelimärt, Rosentalanlage and Münsterplatz

For more information regarding the event you can visit the official website.

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