Switzerland's biggest carnival - the Basel Fasnacht - began in the early hours of Monday morning to the music of fifes and drums. In accordance with tradition, the lights of the city went out at the stroke of 4 am. There was a short silence and then lanterns were lit and the sound of thousands of fifes and drums filled the air for the traditional "Morgestreich" - local Swiss-German dialect for morning procession. One of the other musical highlights is always on Tuesday evening, when the city centre's streets are filled with the "Gugge" music of brass bands. Hundreds of musicians gather to play their deafening, discordant but often catchy tunes. They then disperse through the streets, forming groups that spectators like to tag along with, and march through the centre playing their music into the small hours. During three days and nights of revelling, the city's bars and restaurants serve three dishes traditionally associated with Fasnacht: Mehlsuppe, which is a hearty broth made from flour and onion, and onion and cheese pies. Basel Fasnacht is one of the world's oldest, dating back to 1376. Its start was switched to the Monday after Ash Wednesday in 1757 - and no one seems quite sure why it takes place in the week after the beginning of Lent. .
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