Swinging and singing along with the Carnival hordes in Cologne, Düsseldorf or Mainz… anybody can do that. Away from the standard German capitals of the Carnival season, there are so many awesome alternatives just waiting to be discovered. Here are my top 5:
The peak of ball season
The Semper Opera Ball in Dresden is held at Carnival time. But if you thought this party was an exclusive event reserved only for the 2,500 or so opera guests, you’re dead wrong! Every year, more than 15,000 people join the party in front of the opera house for the live broadcast and a complete entertainment programme. So leave your fancy dress at home, put on some comfy shoes, and spend a special evening so close to the stars you can actually feel the ballroom excitement.
STAY | Vienna House QF Dresden
Women own the world
Carnival in Trier gets going at 11.11 a.m. on Weiberfastnacht (Fat Thursday) with a street festival that is full of exuberant, costumed crowds partying away on the squares and in the pubs. And speaking of pubs: If you’re thinking of dancing and singing your way through the bar scene, your costume should be comfortable and not take up too much space – it can get pretty crowded! For an authentic Trier experience, I recommend an evening with Leiendecker Bloas. This local band plays songs in the Trier dialect. Even if you have a decent command of the German language, Trierish could leave you a bit tongue-tied. But don’t worry: It gets easier after a beer or two!
STAY | Vienna House Easy Trier
Schoduvel in Braunschweig
In Braunschweig, they call Carnival “Schoduvel”. “Scho” means to “shoo away” and “Duvel” is the devil. While the Rhineland is often considered to be the hotbed of Carnival season in Germany, they have been driving out the demons of winter in Braunschweig for over 700 years. Making this the older of the two traditions.
The absolute high point of the season is the large Carnival parade, traditionally held on the Sunday before Rose Monday. Six-and-a-half kilometres long, with more than 5,000 active participants and 150 floats, this is the largest parade in northern Germany – and a good time guaranteed.
Geierabend at Zollern Coal Mine
The location of Geierabend is unique: on the grounds of the former Zollern Coal Mine in Dortmund-Bövinghausen. With humour that is as dark and dry as the coal that was once mined here, Geierabend offers up a fantastic evening of cabaret in good company, completely free of beer tent camaraderie and without any oom-pah-pah. In short, Geierabend is a real alternative without all the noisy pomp.
Dance of the Market Women
On the morning of Fat Tuesday, the Carnival party in Munich really gets going when the market women dance at the Viktualienmarkt dressed in creative costumes and conspicuous headwear. For the crowds, there’s sparkling wine at the market stalls and lots of music all day long. This end of this merry day is celebrated in the surrounding bars and pubs.