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Permanent fixture in Basel’s calendar: the Autumn Fair

By Martin Pütter, Photo: Simon J. Senn

Basel’s social season would be empty without its traditional Autumn Fair, the oldest of its kind in Switzerland.

For centuries it was always on 27 October, but since 1926 it has usually been the last Saturday of October: the start of the Autumn Fair, as much a part of Basel as Fasnacht and the Minster – and almost as old as the latter. During its 16 days, Basel’s Autumn Fair offers something for everyone, be it the Ferris wheel at the Münsterplatz, ghost trains and go-cart tracks at the Rosentalanlage, candy floss, nougats and many other sweets for kids and adults alike at Barfüsserplatz, or the merchant market at Petersplatz, with its nostalgic roundabout. There are other names for it, as The Basel Journal points out in its latest print issue: “Merry-go-round, galloper – there are many different names for the carousel. In German too: ‘Ringelreiten’, ‘Reitschule’, sometimes also ‘Ringelspiel’, but in Basel the word is ‘Ressliryti’. The carousels, especially the old-fashioned ones with the horses, are indisputably an integral part of the Basel Autumn Fair, even though – or perhaps precisely because – they are not at all state-of-the-art. They bring a touch of 19th-century nostalgia to the fair.”

Right in time for the Autumn Fair, The Basel Journal’s print issue #15 is now available, at Bider&Tanner – or via subscription

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