Fasnacht, the biggest and craziest carnival in Switzerland, takes places every year on the Monday to Thursday after Ash Wednesday, with some 20,000 masked and costumed participants parading through the streets in so-called ‘cliques’ and Gugge musical bands.
Its origins date back to the 14th century.
An application for Fasnacht’s inclusion on the Unesco list was submitted on Thursday, the Swiss federal culture office (BAK) said in a statement.
It’s the second application from Switzerland, after the Fête des Vignerons, a huge winemakers’ festival held every 20 years in Vevey, was previously submitted.
The decision on both counts will not be known until November 2017.
In its statement, the BAK said Basel’s Fasnacht was one of the world’s rare protestant carnivals.
Noting its rich musical, oral and artisan traditions, it said the carnival was “a particularly important cultural event for the Basel population”.
Speaking to The Local, Christine Waelti of Basel Tourism said: To receive the Unesco label would be of great value to Basel as a tourism destination.
“The Carnival is already a very important event for the tourism in our city, as the hotels are pretty much booked up during this time and we also have a lot of day visitors. How exactly the inclusion in the list would influence for example overnights is difficult to predict. But it would certainly gain a lot of publicity for our city.”
According to Unesco, intangible cultural heritage, also known as living heritage, “refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills transmitted by communities from generation to generation.”
A 2003 Unesco convention aimed to safeguard such heritage, which encompasses oral traditions, social practices, rituals, festivals and artisan skills.
In October 2014 the Swiss government approved a list of eight Swiss traditions it wished to submit for consideration in stages.
As well as Fasnacht and the Fête des Vignerons the list includes yodelling, precision watchmaking, Swiss graphic and typographic design and the alpine livestock season.