It’s carnival time in Germany

Watch your ties, boys!!!

Two years ago I was given the opportunity to spend a whole weekend experiencing the carnival in Germany. So you’ve heard of the Rio carnival… Colourful street parades with glitzy costumes, elaborate feather headdresses and ongoing parties. But have you heard of the carnival in Germany? Women cutting men’s ties? No? Well read on…
The festival season in Germany starts on 11 November at 11:11 am, but the actual Carnival week begins on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Carnival parades are held on the weekend before and especially on Rose Monday, and sometimes on Shrove Tuesday.
In German-speaking countries, two different types of Carnivals are held:

The Rheinish Carnival is held in the west of Germany and is famous for celebrations such as street parades and fancy dress. Cologne Carnival is the biggest, most well-known and most alcoholic.

Me as a witch with a cow

On Carnival Thursday (called “Old Women Day” or “The Women’s Day”), in fond remembrance of an 1824 revolt by women, women storm city halls, cut men’s ties, and are allowed to kiss any man who crosses their path. It’s true!!! I have a photo somewhere of me cutting a manager’s tie. The guys all expect this and are well up for it – they wear old ties just for the occasion…
The “Swabian-Alemannic” Carnival, known as Fastnacht, takes place in Southwestern Germany, Switzerland, Alsace and Western Austria. It traditionally represents the time of year when winter is over.

Tigers at the bus stop

My experience of carnival was outrageous fun. I joined the masses of ‘fancy-dressed’ people and headed for a suburb of the city of Cologne. Saturday night, dressed as a witch, complete with green hair and bushy eyebrows, I partied the night away singing and dancing and enjoying good German beer for just 2€ a glass (small glass, not a pint glass). It was incredible and the funniest part was getting on the train with cows, puppies, nurses, French waitresses and other characters. This was after all, a normal day for German people and they didn’t even notice their fancy dress.

Street Parade

Me as a clown

Sunday saw me dressed as a clown and this time cheering a street parade just outside Dusseldorf. Sweets and small gifts were thrown into the crowd and people would line the streets with goodie bags waiting to see what they could catch from the passing parade. Musical bands, drum majorettes, acrobats, singers and guitarists made up the lively entertainment. Well and all the weirdly dressed people. Almost everyone dresses up and at times I would look around and think I’d woken up in some sort of weird dreamland.
Afterwards we all headed to the bar for more celebrations where I shared a conversation with a man dressed as a priest, another as a prisoner and another with a scary plastic hand. Don’t let anyone ever tell you the Germans are too serious – they really know how to party and have a good time.
If you’re ever in Germany around this time of year, make sure you make a plan to join a carnival experience, it really is fantastic fun…

You feel right at home when
EVERYONE is in fancy dress
Street Parade
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