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Basel revellers forward march

Tens of thousands of people have gathered in the streets of Basel for the annual carnival – Switzerland's biggest – which got underway at 4am on Monday.

This content was published on February 11, 2008 - 08:27

In freezing temperatures the city lights went out and the traditional carnival lanterns were lit for the Morgestraich, the early morning procession that kicks off the festival.

Hundreds of colourfully costumed drummers and pipers cramming the streets and alleys slowing advanced as the carnival organisers boomed out: "Morgestraich, forward march!"

The Basel carnival is famous for its large lanterns illustrated with cartoons which lampoon events and people who made the headlines over the past year.

The Basel carnival is the latest in a series of popular events that began earlier this month in the Catholic regions of the country, including Lucerne and Ticino.

The capital, Bern, and Zurich held their festivities over the weekend, while revellers in Lausanne have to wait until April.

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