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Experience Carnival of Basel, in Prague Prague, 2023 and 2024

«Beneath the Mask» is a spectacular exhibition project, bringing «Basel Fasnacht» and «Prague Velvet Carnival» together. «Basel Fasnacht» starts with a goose bump moment. On a Monday morning in February or early March at four a.m. all lights in the city are switched off and the only illumination shines from two hundred big and thousands of small lanterns, carried by over 15'000 tambours and piccolo flute players, who simultaneously start their music. It is the beginning of carnival in Basel, the biggest city event, a three day festival of creativity, colors and sounds reuniting 25’000 participants and several hundred thousand visitors. In 2017 UNESCO included this tradition in the list of intangible cultural heritage.

«Basel Fasnacht» consists of four main features: creativity (costumes, masks and movable objects newly created every every year), music (drum, piccolos and brass bands), words (singers satirically commenting what happened through the year) and social integration (in principle everybody can participate). For the city of Basel and its public life the yearly event marks not only the end of winter, but a collective reflection on themes that society has gone through in the past year. It connects its citizens and creates a strong relationship to shared public affairs. Interestingly, Prague Velvet Carnival is a new promising city tradition as well, founded over one decade ago, and partly inspired by Basel Fasnacht.

«Beneath the Mask» will bring an exciting exhibition of images and emotions from Basel to Prague, by which visitors can immerse in the world of this unique art of carnival. They will experience 360 degree videos and the option to change perspectives and become part of the show. It will connect the two carnivals and inspire viewers to experience how traditions can adapt to the future and become a meaningful part of city festivities.

Impression from the Basel Fasnacht 2023


«Beneath the Mask» consists of a spectacular exhibition (communication/experience); a joint parade with Basel groups at the Prague Carnival (participation), a symposium on traditions, city rituals and economy (exchange); and a documentary film (documentation/reflection). The partnership aims at bringing a mutual creative process of inspiration between Basel and Prague with new impulses to both. The parade in Prague is planned to form a long term partnership.

Combine Basel and Prague Carnival

Basler Fasnacht

  • UNESCO Intangible World Cultural Heritage

Prague Carnival

  • New festival


  • Promote Prague Carnival as cultural event
  • Dialogue and exchange between Basel and Prague, Czech Republic and Switzerland

There is something archaic about the need to let go of one’s own character and slip into a role of one›s choosing, and it can be a great liberation and satisfaction especially in difficult times. This feeling connects us Baslers with all the other people around the world who follow their own tradition of carnival, masquerade or Fasnacht. To show these emotions in an exhibition will be the great challenge and opportunity at the same time.

Claudio Vogt

In Basel we always say: you can’t explain carnival, you have to experience it yourself. Our exhibition is therefore more of an experience, less of an explanation. An audiovisual trip: sensual, inspiring, immersive.

Benedikt Wyss

An active participant in the Basel Fasnacht since childhood, with a flair for its wild and creative moments, I was immediately enraptured by the liveliness and freshness of the Prague Fasnacht. I am particularly interested in its artistic qualities, which could also be a source of inspiration for Basel.

Marc Wey

The exhibition

The exhibition aims to convey a fascinating sensual experience of the phenomenon „Fasnacht“. With the help of modern technology, visitors will be taken on a journey through carnival. They will experience colors and shapes, the omnipresent musical tapestry, artistic representations of themes, walking back and forth through the city in a mask, meeting groups and the change of light and darkness in the process.

The parade

The carnival procession in Prague will be joined by a number of guests, cliques and other groups from Basel and will become a major event for the whole city. In the run-up to the parade, it is planned that groups from both cities will undertake joint preparations, work out subjects or exchange ideas. It will be exciting to observe how the two cities deal with themes, where they set their priorities, and how they implement them. Artists and young people will also be involved in the activities.

The symposium

An interdisciplinary academic collaboration between the Universities of Prague and Basel, led by the departments of religious studies, is planned, with various topics such as: masks and their significance, sociological or economic aspects, impacts of traditions on an urban society. The academic event will be wrapped up in a scientific publication to record the observations.

Documentary film

The documentary film will first of all describe the main features of the current forms of carnival; following this, it will provide a deeper insight into the tradition and make the phenomenon more tangible. Certain film elements will also be used for the exhibition.

Exhibition space

The exhibition will take place in the centre of Prague near Wenceslas Square in an old riding hall ( This great location is suitable for the staging and particularly interesting for visitors since the place is unknown even to Prague residents. People will access through a partially playable shop passage, or via a dead-end street that ends opposite the Mucha Museum.


- November 17, 2023: Kick off, Prague and Basel parade
- Autumn/winter 2023: Scientific symposium with Universities
- November 16, 2024: Opening immersive exhibition
- 2024: Production documentary film
- January 24, 2025: Finissage

Exhibition will be shown 2025 in Basel and other metropoles

Despite their differences, the large Basel Fasnacht which has been established for centuries and the small, still unstructured and experimental Fasnacht in Prague have a lot in common. This offers the chance to absorb each other’s ideas and new forms.

Dominique Mollet

From the point of view of the “Documentation of Basel Carnival” project, I am interested in observing what is understood, abstracted and, if anything, received in Prague from a living tradition that is fundamentally bound to its sponsorship, performance and location [Basel] and is shaped by socio-cultural codes.

Alain Grimm

It is fascinating to learn that such a living ritual exists in the middle of Europe, even in Switzerland of all places. Fasnacht is a geyser of creativity and also of reflection on current issues, it connects artists and people from all walks of life. That’s why eleven years ago we decided: we want something like that in our city, too.

Olga Cieslarová

Project management

The project is jointly managed by Prague and Basel and consists of the following persons:

  • Olga Cieslarová (Co-director)
    Researcher at Charles University of Prague, Swiss National Science Foundation at University of Basel
  • Dominique Mollet (Co-director)
    Art Historian and event specialist, former head of communication Art Basel, Fondation Beyeler
  • Benedikt Wyss (Co-curator exhibition)
    Curator SALTS, Theater Basel, Co-curator Art Parcours Art Basel
  • Lucie Králová (Co-curator multimedia)
    Film director, Laureat Krakow International Film Festival


Olga Cieslarová:

Dominique Mollet:

Fotos: Pino Covino, Jeremy Schmit, Jan Hromádko