Carnival In Germany: Where Idiosyncratic Disparty Unites

The pre-Lent long-running celebrations, known as Carnival/Karneval/Fasching/“Fifth Season” frenzy, is about to kickoff here in Germany with announcements of this year’s Carnival programme, stores displaying on rows and rows of eclectic costumes for tots to geriatrics, and people getting excited over it – of course!

When is Carnival in Germany?

Although the Carnival season opens on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year at 11:11, the full-blown show do not take off until about a week before Ash Wednesday. This year 2018, it’s slated for Feb 8th (Weiberfastnacht – Women’s Carnival) through Feb 12th (Rosenmontag – the Carnival’s highlight). So if you are planning to visit Germany during this time and considering to take part, get yourselves ready for excessive eating, drinking, and merry-making.

Folk etymologies state that the word comes from the Late Latin expression carne vale, which means “farewell to meat”, signifying the approaching fast. The word carne may also be translated as flesh, producing “a farewell to the flesh”, a phrase embraced by certain carnival celebrants to embolden the festival’s carefree spirit.  – Wikipedia

Copyright Wikimedia

Copyright Wikimedia

Back in the days when I didn’t know much of the world yet, I thought Carnival was only being celebrated in Rio de Janeiro and nowhere else. Evidently I was wrong, as it is a Catholic festival that is being celebrated in countries where Catholicism is predominant – Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Uruguay, USA, etc. And guess what? Philippines used to celebrate Carnival, too, until it was eradicated before WW2 broke out – don’t ask me why; even Wikipedia couldn’t give me an answer.

Well, I just never knew that there was such a grandiose annual event like that in the early 1900s and that a Carnival wasn’t just a pop-up amusement park or a fair that comes and goes each year in random cities and didn’t only mean cotton candies and merry-go-round rides.

Karneval in Deutschland

Ragnar from the Vikings, Rey from Star Wars, and Deadpool of course. 😀

On to my Carnival experience story. Now even though I am not really a fan of dressing up, if I had to do it – I NEEDED to do it right. So last year when my husband and I actually decided to join in for the first time with a little bit of hesitation on our side and full-force cajoling from our friends, I thought I better take this chance to deck myself out as a kickass character I actually like. Needless to say, I took the dressing-up thing seriously. No, I didn’t dress up as a panda – would have been warmer and easier though! The thing is, it doesn’t matter who or what you pick, as long as you are in a costume or you will be frowned upon!

How to Celebrate Carnival Without Losing Your Mind

In Germany, you’ll find the most massive Carnival festivities in Cologne and Düsseldorf  – also considered one of the world’s best, climbing up on the popularity ladder with the likes of New Orlean’s Mardi Gras and Venice’s Gran Ballo delle Maschere.

We could have gone to Cologne to completely immerse ourselves, but none of us wanted to deal with the furor among spectators and hassle of going in and out of there – with a potential bad hangover. We drank our way into the weekend and settled in the pub area of a small city close to Cologne instead where legit parties were happening and German folk music was turning the bars upside down – and doing my head in. Nah, it’s all good! Once you’ve drank enough alcohol – you’ll soon forget how awful the music is, you’ll actually start enjoying yourself and watching people make a fool out of themselves.

Friday night, done. We didn’t wear our costumes yet at this time because it was just a preliminary party and I refuse to wear the same thing twice or thrice in a row. They can’t expect me to buy different costumes for each day, right? Putting it all together was already too much of an effort!

Karneval in Deutschland 2

The next day, we picked my cousin up from the train station. She lived in Germany almost all her life but who was also a first-timer like myself. She said that Carnival in northern Germany isn’t as big as it is in cities in the Rheinland area attracting tourists worldwide with parades featuring vulgar satirical floats mainly focused on political personalities. Just so you know, it’s not being celebrated all over the country and not everyone is excited about it either! In fact, a lot of Germans have mixed feelings about celebrating Carnival. Ask around and you’ll know what I mean.

This time it was in a Schützenhalle, typically a huge event space turned into a dance hall where you have enough space to show off your dance moves to randoms who are just there to have a good time – even if the DJ spins music from genres unknown to my ears. Just shut your head and let loose even if my entire system was definitely hating me right at that moment. So all the while I thought it was actually fun; just not hailing a cab back home. That’s a different story.

Karneval in DE

Overall, just like the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan and the Oktoberfest in Munich, it was a great experience for me but I will be at peace even if I don’t ever get to attend another one like it in this lifetime again. It’s one of those experiences that one might just be enough – as long as you really make the most out of it! And I believe I did. 😉

Just remember that the secret to happiness is not caring about what anyone thinks and having a bad memory – alcohol helps a lot, in this case – I promise you!

Have you been to a Carnival in Germany or anywhere else in the world before? How was your experience? Let me know your best carnival experiences in the comments! 🙂

Experiencing Carnival In Germany - How to Celebrate Carnival | Carnival Programme | Germany Travel Tips


Germans are mad…. love them


Oh I’ve heard so much of carnival in Germany and would love to visit to try one of these days! I’ve been to carnival in Rio once and THAT was an awesome experience 🙂

That, I believe! I think nothing will beat the one in Rio!

Carnival is a huge thing in Croatia too, everybody are crazier these days. 🙂

Engineer With Flair

Like your article

Chasa Fulkerson

This looks so fun and colorful! I love dressing up!

your writing style is incredible! so much detail and info put into this article and I LOVED it!

I am French, from the Caribbean and I live i Trinidad & Tobago which is internationally- known for its yearly carnival. Therefore, i grew up with. Carnivalall my life.
I’ve been increasingly heard of the German Carnival, mostly because a lot of Trinidadians residing there participate in the festivities.
Thanks for enlightening me on the German carnival. I had only seen videos so far.

Ah finally someone who is a fan of attending Carnival! 🙂 I’m pretty sure the Caribbean vibe during this season is a lot more festive and since it’s warm over there – a lot more enjoyable, too!

We also have this in the Netherlands. I attended for the first time this year and it was a lot of fun!

Right? 😉 It’s something you should really experience at least once!