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Published on : Monday, January 11, 2016
In Germany there are many names for the shrovetide season – karneval, fastnacht, fasnacht, fasnet, fasching, fastabend, fastelovend, fasteleer and ‘the fifth season’ – and few other countries can claim to celebrate this carnival with such intense enthusiasm. Every year, festivities in the six weeks leading up to Easter attract millions of revellers in elaborate costumes out on to the streets.
The Rhineland region is famed for its carnival celebrations, especially in the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz. The region’s street carnivals, during which sweets are thrown into the crowds, run from ‘Women’s Thursday’ (Weiber-Donnerstag) through to Ash Wednesday (4 to 9 February 2016). In the carnival hotbeds of Cologne, Mainz and Düsseldorf, celebrations reach their highest point on Rose Monday in the shape of a grand parade.
Less traditional but just as much fun is Bremen’s carnival, where the focus is less on sweets and more on samba. Bremen’s karneval is in fact the biggest samba carnival in Europe and culminates in a huge samba procession on the Saturday (6 February 2016).
Many other towns and cities in Germany host carnival celebrations, with highlights including the traditional Aachen Carnival, also in the Rhineland. Or further afield there’s the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin – a multicultural festival celebrating the capital’s diversity.
Germany’s city centres will be transformed into huge outdoor stages. So soak up the party atmosphere created by the rhythmic music and unusual costumes.