Basel is usually known as the cultural capital of Switzerland with its numerous museums, theatre and art districts. During the season of advent, Basel opens up as the most attractive and traditional Christmas city. The city is glistening with Christmas lights, and the town areas of Basel – Barfüsserplatz and Münsterplatz are the most beautiful with the large Christmas markets. More than a 100 pine tree glisten with twinkly lights and are reason enough to welcome any traveler to Basel at this point in time.
The streets in and around the Christmas markets are filled with people flocking around and occupying every corner available. The atmosphere has been coated with joy, and if that wasn’t enough the mulled wine does the trick for you. It’s a beautiful feeling – like moving from one children’s party to the adult’s party. Just around the corner was Herbstmesse (Autumn fair) all over the city and now it’s this! The Christmas markets continue for the entire advent period and the city shuts down to be with their families from 24th evening for Chrismas Eve and Chrismas Day. But the best time is now…!
I have personally been to the Barfüsserplatz market where you can see a bunch of exhibitors displaying various handicrafts and goods for sale in rustic wooden chalets. Even if you plan to avoid shopping, the little huts are a visual treat for the eyes. My particular favorite one was the small Christmas cottage which houses everything that you need to decorate your humble abode! From the Christmas ornaments to the little story scenes – they had the most exquisitely crafted pieces.
The market has many programs for children, typical swiss dishes with a lot of cheese and some Christmas-y culinary delights. The traditional Basel Läckerli also has their hut right in the front center and houses all the traditional treats.
Personally, this has always been the best time of the year for me – it’s a cherry on the cake now that we live in Switzerland. I have been a sucker for all those Christmas movies, decorating the tree, singing carols and just enjoying the simmered down work pressures. It’s a fairy tale come true to actually experience what we saw on television.
During the gray days with little or no sunshine, the Christmas advent marks a welcome change to the general pace. Not just the specific markets, but all the stores, cafes and restaurants are reeking of festivities. It’s time to calm down, be thankful and spend some quality time with closed ones.