Independence Day is obviously not a thing over here, so we missed our traditional cookout and fireworks extravaganza this year.
But not really. We just had to wait another month for Swiss National Day. The Swiss do it big for national holidays; pretty much everything closes down, even more so than a regular old Sunday. Basel-Stadt has its Swiss National Day celebration on July 31st, so we headed to Marktplatz after Andy got off work that day to see what was up.
They had a (very small) carnival: a carousel, a giant slide, and a game or two. G cared not for the games, but she was all in for the carousel and the slide.
We dragged her away from the carnival for a little while to see what else we could find and the answer was something else she loved, too:
The bubble man needed to take a break, so we took the opportunity to walk towards the river to see what else was going on.
We couldn’t get dinner before having another turn on the carousel.
As we finished up eating on the stairs (all the tables were full), the bubble man came and set up right in front of us.
We watched G chase and pop bubbles, tried to keep her from stepping on the extra set of bubble wands soaking in the bubble solution, and enjoyed the Dixieland band singing in English (which seems like such an odd choice for a Swiss celebration). Then it was time to head home.
Fireworks are also a part of the Swiss National Day celebration, but due to the long days, the display doesn’t start until 11 PM and then it lasts 25 minutes! Then we would’ve had to get on the tram and the bus and then walk home… No thanks. We headed home fairly early. We could hear some of the official show once it started, but the bigger problem (for both G and Ziggy) was the people doing fireworks on the Birs right by our apartment. Fireworks (like… real, actually big, loud, and impressive fireworks) are apparently legal here for the approved holidays (Swiss National Day and New Year’s), so we were treated to quite the noisy evening with an upset dog and a child who couldn’t get to sleep. I was none too pleased!
(And then Kanton Basel-Landschaft had their Swiss National Day fireworks show on the evening of the 1st, so we got to do it all over again!)
The holiday very much reminded me of Independence Day, even beyond the fireworks and the fact that it’s celebrated in the middle of summer. For weeks prior to the holiday, the grocery stores had Swiss and kantonal flags for sale; we picked up a Swiss and a Baselland flag which are now hanging in G’s room. Careful viewers might have caught a glimpse of them in the YouTube video of our furnished apartment.
And for about a week before the celebration, fireworks stands popped up for people to buy their goodies. You can apparently buy them some places year-round, but they’re much easier to get around the holidays. The very dry conditions we were experiencing in the middle of the summer threatened to put a stop to fireworks, but it didn’t happen. (There were signs by the Birs saying no open flames, etc., but the authorities definitely didn’t stop anyone from shooting off fireworks on/around Swiss National Day.)