Basel Autumn Fair


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Social practices
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Description

The Basel Autumn Fair first took place in 1471, when Kaiser Friedrich III granted the city the right to hold the event. Since then it has taken place every year without exception. At 12 noon on the last Saturday in October, the ringing of the Fair Bell in St. Martin's Church signals the start. The bell-ringer is paid for his work with a pair of gloves, a custom reflecting the formerly widespread tradition of payment in kind for services. He receives the left glove for his ringing duties during the event, and holds it up to the waiting crowd as proof of a continued custom. He is rewarded with the right glove when he rings out the event two weeks later. During the fortnight of festivities, the city is full of fairground rides, confectionery and market stands, and flashing, colourful lights. For many fair visitors, the highlight is the large market at Petersplatz. The Basel Autumn Fair is the largest combined funfair and trade fair in Switzerland and the Upper Rhine region. It is also the oldest fair in Switzerland.

Image gallery

  • As well as being a major event for the city's residents, the Basel Autumn Fair also attracts thousands of visitors from other regions © Tino Briner/picturebâle, 2004
  • Petersplatz square with stands and stalls and the "Basler Häfelimäärt" selling ceramic goods © Claude Giger/picturebâle, 2003
  • The “Basler Häfelimäärt” selling ceramic goods at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Sweets galore at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Chocolate fruit at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Münsterplatz square at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • The big wheel on Münsterplatz square at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Bumper cars at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Freefall-Spin-Tower at the Basel Fair location (Basel, 2017) © Miriam Baumeister
  • As well as being a major event for the city's residents, the Basel Autumn Fair also attracts thousands of visitors from other regions © Tino Briner/picturebâle, 2004
  • Petersplatz square with stands and stalls and the "Basler Häfelimäärt" selling ceramic goods © Claude Giger/picturebâle, 2003
  • The “Basler Häfelimäärt” selling ceramic goods at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Sweets galore at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Chocolate fruit at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Münsterplatz square at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • The big wheel on Münsterplatz square at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Bumper cars at the 541st Basel Autumn Fair in 2011 © Bettina Matthiessen/www.basel.ch
  • Freefall-Spin-Tower at the Basel Fair location (Basel, 2017) © Miriam Baumeister

References and documentation

Publications
  • Kanton Basel-Stadt: Gesetz über die Basler Herbstmesse (Systematische Gesetzessammlung Basel-Stadt 562.300). Vom 14. März 2012 (Stand 1. Januar 2014)

  • Präsidialdepartement des Kantons Basel-Stadt, Aussenbeziehungen und Standortmarketing: Das grosse ABC der Basler Herbstmesse. Basel, 2017

  • Regierungsrat Basel-Stadt: Bericht zur rechtlichen Zulässigkeit der Initiative «Zum Schutz der Basler Herbstmesse» (JD/29. August 2007). Regierungsratsbeschluss vom 28. August 2007, zugestellt am 31. August 2007

  • Regierungsrat Basel-Stadt: Bericht des Regierungsrates zur unformulierten Initiative «Zum Schutz der Basler Herbstmesse» und Ratschlag und Entwurf zu einem im Sinne der unformulierten Initiative ausgearbeiteten Gesetz über die Basler Herbstmesse ( PD729, Juni 2011). Regierungsratsbeschluss vom 28. Juni 2011, zugestellt am 1. Juli 2011

  • Markus Fürstenberger: 500 Johr Basler Messe. Basel, 1971

  • Georg Kreis, Beat von Wartburg: Basel. Geschichte einer städtischen Gesellschaft. Basel, 2000

  • Stefan Koslowski: Stadttheater contra Schaubuden. Zur Basler Theatergeschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Zürich, 1998

Documentation
  • Basler Herbstmesse

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