Aalborg Carnival – The Biggest Carnival in Scandinavia

Aalborg Carnival is the largest carnival in Scandinavia. It occurs every spring and is said to be one of the top ten carnivals in the world.

17th May 2019

25th May 2019

Days to start

What is Aalborg Carnival? 

What is carnival in Aalborg? Aalborg is the largest carnival in northern Europe and looks more like a carnival celebration you would see in Brazil. So, if you live in Europe you don’t have to fly all the way to Brazil to experience carnival, you can instead head to Denmark to experience a tropical carnival atmosphere with vibrating samba rhythms every spring.

Aalborg Carnival is said to be one of the top ten best carnivals in the world! This is an event that you don’t want to miss!

When is Aalborg Carnival 2019?

aalborg carnival

The Aalborg Carnival takes place in the last week of May and runs for a whole week culminating in its Grand Parade on the Saturday. The 2019 Aalborg Carnival will begin on the 17th May 2019.The 2019 Aalborg Carnival Grand Parade date is Saturday the 25th May 2019.

Where is Aalborg?

Aalborg is Denmark’s fourth largest city and belongs to the Municipality of Aalborg. It is about a four-hour drive from Copenhagen. Aalborg is an architectural gem and is known for its historic houses and cobblestoned streets because Aalborg is a city that dates back over a thousand years.

Why do they celebrate carnival in Aalborg?

aalborg carnival

They decided to celebrate the coming of spring through as well as celebrating fantasy. Celebrating the coming of spring in Denmark is an ancient tradition that dates back to pagan roots.

How do they celebrate Aalborg Carnival?

aalborg carnival

The Aalborg Carnival runs for a week and consists of three main carnival events; The Battle of the Carnival Bands, Children’s Carnival and the Grand Parade. The Battle of the Bands is a parade featuring professional international carnival groups. The Grand Parade is a parade for anybody who wants the chance to join and act out their creative ideas. Children’s Carnival is a parade for the kids.

For the entire week Carnival in Aalborg is when everyone, no matter your age children and grown-ups, lets loose and has fun. Following the parades, the city park Kildeparke, hosts massive after parties featuring lots of live music, entertainment and food and drink stalls.

Aalborg Carnival History

aalborg carnival

Aalborg Carnival started back in 1982 when four locals decided to create a carnival. Their intention was to celebrate fantasy and also honour old traditions that celebrated the coming of spring. This grass roots movement managed to attract 10,000 people for the first carnival. Year after year the carnival continued to grow in popularity.

The International Parade/Battle of the Carnival Bands

When: Friday May 17th, 2019

Parade Route: JFK Plads – Boulevarden – Nytorv – Gabels torv.

Time: Parade begins at 6:00pm

The International Parade also known as the Battle of the Carnival Bands kicks off Aalborg Carnival. This is a procession that features different professional carnival groups from all over the world. The groups come to compete for the title of Best Carnival Group of the Year. The Groups put on an incredible procession that is full of colourful and exotic costumes, dances and music.

The Burial of the Bull

Date: Friday 18th May 2019

Where: Gabels Torv

Time: – 8:00 – 9:00pm

Aalborg Carnival also opens carnival with a sacrifice to the carnival gods. They sacrifice something very precious to them; The Cimrer Bull. A fake bull is paraded through the streets of Aalborg and then scarified in a massive fire. The Carnival King will then collect and distribute the ashes amongst the crowd so that the Bull’s spirit will be with everyone all week.

When you follow the parade of the Bull to Gabels Torv you are meant to say goodbye to all the evil spirits and bad luck of the previous year. The bad spirits will also perish with the bull, in the fire.!

Children’s Carnival

When: Saturday, 19th May 2019

Where: Aalborg Streets leading to Kildeparken

Time: 10:00am

This parade is for the kids and it is a magical day for the whole family! Its an adorable carnival where thousands of kids march with their parents. Expect lots of fun costumes and dances like Disney characters, superheros and mythical creatures. After the parade, Kildeparken is transformed into a magical world filled with lots of entertainment, activities and music for families to enjoy.

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The Aalborg Parade & Festival

When: Saturday, 25th May 2019

Where: Aalborg Streets leading to Kildeparken

Time: 10:00am

Parade theme: The four seasons!

The Aalborg Grand Parade is the main attraction of Aalborg Carnival. The Grand Parade features 80,000 participants and an additional 100,000 spectators. The Aalborg Grand Parade is opened with 15 professional carnival groups from all over the world and following them is the 80,000 participants.

The Grand Parade is a yearly street party full of vibrant colours, sparkly costumes and catchy rhythmic songs from all over the world. The parade actually starts from three different locations and eventually they cross each other merging into one.

This parade is unique because essentially anyone that wants to, can participate in the parade. All that is required is that you let your imagination go wild, wear a costume and be ready to have some fun! Some of the costumes that you will witness on this day will blow your mind!

The parade marches forward to Kildeparken where the fun keeps going. Kildeparken hosts an awesome 10 hour after-party full of live music, entertainment, food and drink vendors. About 30,000 attend this after-party and everyone is in good spirits!

Aalborg Parade Route

aalborg carnival

The Aalborg Grand Parade starts at three separate locations and will begin at three different times. The first parade beings on Nørresundby Torv and kicks off at 10am. The second parade Skat begins at the end of Østerbro and will begin at 10:30am. The last parade begins at the square in Haraldslund Vandkulturhu and will begin at 11am.

All three parades eventually meet up on Vesterbro and head towards Kildeparken.

How much does Aalborg Carnival Cost?

aalborg carnival

To participate in the Aalborg Children’s Carnival, you must purchase a wristband which will cost about 50DKK per person and grant you access to Kildeparken where there is lots of entertainment, activities and music. Children under the age of 2 will receive free access to Kildeparken.

For participation in the Grand Parade it will cost 150DKK. Ticket sales can be purchased on the official website. It is also possible to buy them on the day from participating sites around the city. You will be given an arm band which will grant you access to Kildeparken for the after-party and it also means you can ride public transport for free. 

What to wear for Aalborg Carnival?

aalborg carnival

Everyone wears a costume and the locals go over the top with their costume choices. Aalborg Carnival always select a theme for carnival and you can choose whether or not you want to dress in accordance with the theme. This year the theme is the ‘four seasons’ get creative. Lots of people will wear a common group costume with their friends.

How to get to Aalborg?

There are flights from Copenhagen to Aalborg. You can also catch a train from Copenhagen which will take about 4.5 hours and runs every half hour. There are also plenty of buses, or you can drive which will take about 4-5 hours from Copenhagen.

Where to stay in Aalborg?

aalborg carnival

There are 1800 hotel rooms available in Aalborg, so you have plenty of places to stay, of course the prices are higher during carnival and you need to book early to get availability.

Check out some accomodation options here. 

How to get around in Aalborg?

It’s very easy to walk around the centre of Aalborg on foot! If you are a little further out of the city centre there is plenty of local transport that you can catch. Or you can grab a taxi/uber to get you around.

For more information about tours, things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more click here.

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