Basel tattoo

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Treble clef from a performance at Basel Tattoo 2012
Top Secret Drum Corps at the Basel Tattoo 2009
Basel Tattoo 2011
Basel Tattoo Parade 2011
Basel Tattoo Parade Freiburg im Breisgau 2012
Basel Tattoo In Concert 2011

The Basel Tattoo is a music show that has been taking place every year in July in the city of Basel in Switzerland for a good week since 2006 . In terms of content, it is based on the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and, after it, the second largest tattoo event in the world. The Basel Tattoo is under the patronage of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sport (VBS) .


The Basel Tattoo is carried out in the courtyard of the Basel barracks in Kleinbasel with over 1000 participants. Every year, 60,000 to 70,000 spectators, mainly from all over Switzerland and the German neighborhood, attend the event.

The program changes annually and is played by international music and dance groups as well as the Massed Pipes and Drums - around 200 bagpipers and drummers - in their tartans . There is plenty of room for experimentation at the Basel Tattoo: a Chinese dragon dance or a Friborg alpine descent have just as much space as highly decorated military bands from Great Britain or Russia. Surprising musical arrangements - often with a touch of Swissness - and unusual choreographies are just as much a trademark of the Basel Tattoo as the intention to bring little-known Swiss customs closer to the audience.


Actually, the Basel formation Top Secret wanted to draw the line under ten turbulent years of show drums in Halifax, Canada, when they received the invitation to the Edinburgh Tattoo there. Instead of stopping, it was time to upgrade, because the formation had to get bigger and the performance more dynamic. After two years of hard work, the Top Secret Drum Corps shone at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2003 and, on its return, triggered a wave of enthusiasm in Basel as well. The idea of ​​doing a tattoo here was born: first on a modest scale as a Yshalle Tattoo in the Basel ice rink, from 2006 on as a major open air event on the barracks area - where a tattoo ultimately belongs. The resounding success motivated those responsible around Top Secret Leader Erik Julliard to increase the number of performances step by step. In the best years - 2009 to 2012 - the 120,000 tickets were sold out within a few days. The public interest has decreased significantly in recent years. In 2017, only around 70,000 spectators attended the demonstrations on the barracks area. Compared to the previous year, the interest decreased again by 20,000 viewers.

Due to the spread of the corona virus , the Basel Tattoo cannot be held from July 17th to 25th, 2020.

Criticism of the event

For several years now, residents have been defending themselves against the pollution associated with the event and demanding a reduction in the duration of the event. The event has also come under public criticism due to low-flying aircraft. The Federal Office for Civil Aviation found that important safety regulations had not been observed. Later, after a crash, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation completely banned overflights over cities for safety reasons. It was also criticized that the area could only be used to a limited extent long after the event. The floor covering applied by the tattoo makes it difficult for the neighborhood children to play.

In addition to criticism from residents, the staging and understanding of history are also criticized. In 2016, for example, photos of suffering refugees, tanks, ships and planes were projected onto the barracks building. The media and the public reacted with incomprehension. The Basellandschaftliche Zeitung writes of a “misplaced message”. In 2018, the victims of the Second World War were commemorated: background music was Ennio Morricone's « Play me a song of death ». The Basellandschaftliche Zeitung writes of a “staging mistake par excellence”. The daily week criticizes the understanding of history on which the staging is based.

Additional events

Basel Tattoo Parade

Since 2008 there has been the Basel Tattoo Parade as an exclusive free music spectacle on Saturday afternoons. In addition to the performing bands, numerous guest groups from the near and far have recently taken part in this event. In total, more than 2000 participants march, drive or ride to the applause of around 100,000 enthusiastic spectators from Münsterplatz through Freie Strasse into Kleinbasel to the sample fair.

Basel Tattoo Children's Day

The Basel Tattoo Arena belongs to the children for a whole Saturday afternoon. Together with their parents, they experience the performers up close, they can try out unknown instruments, put on hats and helmets or ask the musicians informal questions.

Web links

Commons : Basel Tattoo  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Basel Tattoo 2010 forward, march . In: az Aargauer Zeitung . December 3, 2009 ( [accessed February 3, 2017]).
  2. Basel Tattoo-Magazin 2008, foreword by Federal Councilor Samuel Schmid, Head of the VBS
  3. Basellandschaftliche Zeitung of July 31, 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016 .
  4. Christian Platz: Top Secret - the book / p. 61ff. Ed .: Christoph Merian Verlag, Basel.
  5. Basel Tattoo 2009. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on February 3, 2017 ; Retrieved February 3, 2017 .
  6. Basellandschaftliche Zeitung: 70,000 spectators attended the military music festival - 20,000 fewer than in the previous year. July 31, 2017, accessed July 31, 2017 .
  7. The Federal Office for Civil Aviation is investigating the Basel Tattoo . In: TagesWoche . July 22, 2014 ( [accessed on July 22, 2017]).
  8. Rahel Walser: Basel Tattoo: Pilots flew too low over the barracks area. Regional journal Radio SRF, December 4, 2014, accessed on July 22, 2017 .
  9. ^ Daniel Fuchs: Flight ban over cities. In: Basellandschaftliche Zeitung. Retrieved March 16, 2019 .
  10. Basler Zeitung of September 13, 2016, page 3 (“The slippery remnant of the Basel Tattoo - the protective coating in the arena area remains throughout the year and makes play activities difficult”).
  11. Basel Tattoo: This year kimono meets pith helmet. In: July 22, 2016. Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  12. ↑ Up your leg, the tattoo comes in. In: July 21, 2018, accessed July 26, 2018 .
  13. Questionable historical awareness at the Basel Tattoo. In: Retrieved July 26, 2018 .
  14. Colorful Tattoo Parade 2016. Retrieved on February 6, 2017 .