Germany’s Best Carnivals | 10 of the Best Places to Celebrate Carnival in Germany!

Germany is home to some of the best carnivals in the world! Here are ten incredible places to celebrate carnival in Germany!
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    What is carnival in Germany?

    Carnival is the last chance for the Germans to get wild, feast and drink lots of beer before the start of Lent. Lent is 40 days of fasting that occurs before Easter. In Germany carnival is celebrated with parades, parties, balls, live music and lots of excess eating and drinking.

    When is carnival in Germany?

    The Germans call carnival the “fifth season” and the carnival season officially kicks off in Germany on the 11th of November (the 11th Month) at 11:11am. Carnival runs right through until the start of Lent.

    Almost every city in Germany celebrates carnival generally with a street parade and parties in their city centre. The most famous carnival is Cologne Carnival but there are plenty of other awesome places to party. Check out some amazing places to celebrate carnival in Germany.

    Cologne Carnival

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    What is carnival in Cologne?

    Cologne Carnival is a four-month celebration that begins on the 11th of the 11 month (November) every year. It also begins right on the clock of 11 minutes past 11. Carnival in Cologne is known as being the fifth season of the year.

    While there are plenty of carnival events it is the few days in the lead up to Ash Wednesday when most of the carnival action occurs in what is known as the “crazy days”. The crazy days are named because they are full of non-stop parties, parades, excess drinking, dancing, socialising, kissing, flirting and fun.

    The crazy days begin on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and sees women wandering the streets and cutting off men’s ties. The biggest parade and craziest day occur on Rose Monday when a huge procession takes place. The locals love dressing up for carnival and the costumes you will see here are on par with what you might expect from comic con.

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    Find out more: Read our Ultimate Guide to the Cologne Carnival here

    Düsseldorf Carnival

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    What is carnival in Dusseldorf?

    Carnival in Dusseldorf is one of the biggest carnival celebrations to take place in Germany. It is a carnival celebration that can certainly rival Cologne and Berlin. Over a million people all in fancy dress come out to enjoy carnival in Berlin.  The carnival is a pre-Lenten celebration that’s biggest day occurs on Rose Monday when a huge procession occurs.

    The Rose Monday Parade is actually the largest parade in Germany and features over 80 carnival groups, 60 different floats and 41 orchestras. The parade runs for over four or five hours and everyone, not just those in the parade are dressed up in costumes. The town square is also transformed into “the world’s longest bar” and the beer doesn’t stop flowing.

    The Black Forest Carnival

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    What is carnival in the Black Forest?

    Carnival in the Black Forest in south-west Germany features its own unique celebrations. The pre-Lenten carnival is known to be a little darker and less humours then most of the carnival celebrations in Germany. Carnival takes place all over the picturesque towns and villages of the Black Forest.

    Here carnival is more about tradition then partying. The festival stays true to its pagan roots and is all about dressing up in scary costumes and chasing away the evil winter spirits that roam the Earth during carnival. There are lots of fun events like the witch parade or a parade with thousands of fool/jester type characters.

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    Find out more: Read our guide to the Black Forest Carnival here

    Berlin’s Carnival of Cultures

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    What is carnival in Berlin?

    The Berlin Carnival of cultures is not a pre-Lenten carnival celebration but is actually a summer carnival that goes for four-days around the Pentecost, Berlin throws an epic carnival celebration that is all about celebrating cultural diversity.

    The Berlin Carnival of Cultures is a tribute to the multicultural community of Germany’s capital city. The carnival attracts over 1.5 million visitors and features performers from over 70 different countries.

    The festival culminates in a colourful and vibrant street parade that is full of colourful carnival groups that represent different cultures. You may see Brazilian Samba dances, Irish Folk dancers, Chinese Dragon dancers and so much more. The parade is a visual feast for the eyes with beautiful traditional costumes from all over the world and lots of music and dance.

    The Carnival of Cultures provides the opportunity for Berlin’s different cultures to show off their heritage. The festival takes place at Blücherplatz in the Kreuzberg district and features several stages that host numerous live music concerts showcasing Berlin’s World Music Scene. There are also around 300 market stalls and food and drink vendors selling delicious food drinks, fashion, art and craft from around the world.

    Find out more: Read our essential guide to the Berlin Carnival of Cultures here.

    Mainz Carnival

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    What is carnival in Mainz?

    Mainz Carnival or Määnzer Fassenacht as it is known in German is actually the third largest German city that celebrates the Rhenish traditions. Mainz Carnival emphasises political and literary humour and sees lots of criticism of current events. Everywhere you go during carnival you will hear the traditional carnival greeting of “Helau, helau, helau!”.

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    The Mainz Carnival Parade is an impressive spectacle so much so that it is even broadcast live on national television. It runs for 6.5 kilometres and just like the other carnivals, takes place on Rose Monday. The parade is a vibrant and colourful procession full of amazing costumes, floats, dancers and musicians.

    Munich Carnival or Fasching

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    What is carnival in Munich?

    Munich celebrates Fasching, which is the old-fashioned German word for carnival. Munich Fasching only lasts for three days but those three days are packed with so much fun and awesome events. Munich Fasching is full of wild parties, vibrant parades, colourful costumes, live music and dance performances and the most energetic atmosphere you can imagine.

    Every year the locals select a carnival Prince and Princess of Narshala, which is the kingdom of fools. A kingdom that only exists during carnival. The carnival royalty crowning happens on the 11th of November at 11:11am. The most famous event of the Munich Carnival is the Dance of the Market Women which is held in Viktualienmarkt on Fat Tuesday. 

    Aachener Karneval

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    What is carnival in Aachener?

    The carnival motto for Aachen Carnival is ‘Spass an der Freud’ or ‘Have fun with joy in your heart’ which essentially sums up what this carnival is all about, lots of merrymaking. The big parade is on Rose Monday which features 5000 participants in over 150 carnival groups that make their way through the city.

    Aachen Carnival traditions are actually very rooted in military commentary and a lot of humour, satire and criticism can be seen during the carnival. There is even a competition for the best tongue in cheek politicians, diplomats or lawyers who had a good sense of humour whilst in the office. They are rewarded with the “Medal for Combating Deadly Seriousness”.

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    Braunschweiger Carnival

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    What is carnival in Braunschweig?

    Braunschweig Carnival is a very traditional celebration that dates back to 1293! It is a very traditional and folkloric carnival celebration that takes place on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Braunschweig celebrates a very ancient type of carnival that is called Schoduvel. About 300,000 people come out to celebrate this ancient carnival celebration.

    Schoduvel is an ancient celebration that the pagans used to perform at the end of winter. It is about scaring away the evil winter spirits that were believed to have ruled the land back in ancient times. The towns folks dress up in scary costumes and disguises and go around the town trying to scare away the spirits.

    There is also a carnival parade that features around 5,000 participants and 130 cars and floats to provide the music and entertainment. It runs for about four hours and is called the Fools Parade. It is the largest carnival parade in North Germany and sees ‘fools’ meander through the streets. The cars report on foolish topics from local to international levels.

    Eschweiler Carnival

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    What is carnival in Eschweiler?

    Escheweiler, which is located in the centre of Rhineland, actually hosts one of Germany’s longest carnival parades. The peak of Carnival is on Rose Monday when they hold their parade that features 20 active carnival clubs.

    Over 300,000 come out to watch the parade and it features around 7000 carnival participants which equals to about 10% of the population. The parade is an impressive spectacle full of satirical costumes, music and floats.

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    Dieburg Carnival

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    What is carnival in Dieburg?

    The biggest carnival club in all of Germany is actually in a tiny little town called Dieburg. Dieburg is indeed a small town in southern Germany but it throws one awesome carnival celebration. They throw an impressive street party filled with awesome costumes, floats and performers. The whole town participates in carnival here.

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