Carnival in Germany
Many people know the huge and fancy carnival parties in Rio de Janeiro. But there is a huge carnival tradition in Germany as well! Especially in the cities Mainz and Cologne, carnival is one of the biggest events of the year: the so-called Karnevalssession begins on the 11th of November and ends 4 days before Easter, on the so called Rosenmontag, the 22nd of February 2023.
The big events mostly take place on the 11th of November or shortly before the end of carnival. In February there are different parades even in the very little towns, where everyone wears a costume, sings together and sweets are thrown into the crowd. There are also so called Sitzungen, where different carnival committees organise events, where either comedians or dance clubs (so called Tanzkorpse) perform on a stage. They often have a huge crowd, even politicians attend these events.
But there are big differences in the tradition itself, depending on where you are celebrating in Germany. While in western Germany it´s called Karneval, it´s Fasching in East- and South Germany and in northern Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg it´s called Fastnacht. Not only the names differ, but also the traditions themselves: In western Germany people wear costumes, give out sweets and party, while in southern Germany people wear scary costumes to banish evil ghosts.
So if you want to party, I recommend going to Cologne in February. Starting Thursday, the 16th of February, there are parties all over the city and it’s crowded with costumed people. The biggest Parade, the Rosenmontagszug, takes place on the next Monday, and makes its way through the whole city. With a length of 8.2 kilometres, over a million visitors and 300 tons of sweets that are thrown, it is the main event in Cologne´s Carnival.
But also in Mainz, Düsseldorf and other cities, big parties and their own Rosenmontagszüge take place, being not as big as in Cologne but having their own flair and traditions. Putting all this together there are many places, with different traditions and their own ways to celebrate, you just have to go the cities and you usually can’t unsee where the parties are at.