Fountains in Basel converted to heated spa pools as temperatures drop

Fountains in Basel converted to heated spa pools as temperatures drop

Long-term residents of Switzerland will know that during the summer, the people of Basel like to swim down the River Rhine and take a plunge in their local fountains in a bid to cool off. Now, artists in Basel have decided to convert some of the city's famous fountains into a winter spa.

Freezing public fountains in Basel converted to 39-degree spas

On select days from December to March, visitors and locals in Basel will be able to immerse themselves in warm outdoor public fountains. To convert the freezing fountain into a spa, a wood stove and bicycle-powered heat pump are used to warm the water in the fountain to 39 degrees celsius, meaning you can have a hot dip outside even when the weather is sub-zero.

"It's an exciting moment. You sit in the hot water in freezing temperatures while the city slowly darkens,” one participant told 20 Minuten. Another said that it was a unique experience to Basel and that "you don't want to get out afterwards." 

The heated fountains pop up across the city during the winter months, but locations are not advertised in advance to avoid a huge influx of people. Chief organiser Quirin Streuli, from art group Kollektiv Hotel Regina, said that while the fountain is popular, "some don't understand what we're doing here and shake their heads when they walk by."

Mini fountain spas to pop up across Basel this winter

This winter, a total of 15 “fountain heaters” have been employed to run the mini-spas, with each worker having to be trained for two years to operate each fountain. It’s quite a hard job too, with Streuli noting that “sometimes you are out and about until one o'clock in the morning with temperatures below zero." 

If you want to try out the fountains for yourself, the events will occur between December and March after 6pm in a number of locations across the old town of Basel. There is also good news for residents of Canton Zurich, with organisers confirming that they are in talks to expand the idea to Winterthur in the future.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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