The Carnival Parade in Germany is an all-ages occasion for fun, costumes and candies. It’s the time to see a German town come to life as the streets are filled with ear to ear smiles. Colour and excitement abound as everyone wears their favorite carnival costumes.
Carnival Sunday Parade in Bonn
On Carnival Sunday in Germany kids and adults parade though the streets in costume to collect candy. You’ll hear them yelling, “Karamelle!” as the candies fly through the air. The German carnival parade makes way for the young and young at heart to meet in the streets of their town.
If you want to come to Carnival, you’ll have to choose the right region. The Carnival is not a tradition in all of Germany but rather in the Catholic regions.
We headed to the parade in Bonn, my friend’s hometown. Although he’s now in his 30s, he hasn’t tired of coming to Carnival every year. I asked him which Carnival has been best. He answered that he can’t say because the memories are hazy, but he knows he has always had a good time.
Showing off my collection of candies at the end of the parade.
Where does Carnival come from?
Long ago, people of the region used to disguise themselves in masks and costumes, then go into the streets making noise aiming to chase away evil spirits. Since then, it’s become an occasion before to party before the beginning of Christian lent, when things quiet down and everyone has to be on good (and more conservative) behaviour.
Bonn Street Party
When the parade finishes, the children go home and the adults assemble to drink a few beers, mingle and sing to a few Carnival songs.
After Party at someone’s house
And for those who survive until late, they can head to the pubs or to a house party. We ended up finding a house party held by some locals who were friendly enough to open their house to their friends and random members of the public like us. They provided food and drinks with a donation box for contributions.
Cologne Carnival – One of Europe’s biggest festivals
With over a million people attending its main parade every year, the Cologne Carnival is one Europe’s biggest street festivals.
Carnival season, or the “fifth season of the year” officially begins November 11 at 11:11 am, but you have to wait until February for the crazy days involving costumes and parties.
I headed to Cologne with a group of friends to experience the famous Cologne Carnival for ourselves.
First stop: Cologne Carnival Costumes
Our first stop is the costume shop to stock up on outfits. We chose two – one to wear on our own and another to wear as a group. I took a Pocahontas costume to wear for the first night and we all got flight attendant costumes to wear as a group for the second night. Okay, not the very most original ideas, but we were short on time! And waiting until the carnival has already begun to buy costumes means there isn’t much choice left. In fact, they ran out of sizes so we had to do some sewing on the flight attendant uniforms.
A costume I did NOT buy.
For our first night we went to the Festausschuss Medizinerball. It takes place at the Gürzenich, one of Cologne’s most historical Gothic-style buildings. It was built in the fifteenth century as a festival hall. For carnival, it puts on a huge party complete with dancing girls and a brass band to play lots and lots of traditional carnival music that everyone (who knows the lyrics) sings along to while downing kölsch, Cologne’s trademark beer.
Carnival Day 2: Random Cologne bars
Practicing our flight attendant moves before going out.
If you don’t make it to the Gürzenich, you can head to any bar or pub. Opening hours are suspended for the duration of the carnival, so in most places you can party all night long with other masqueraded folk.
A happy flight attendant.
On the second night, our gang dressed up as flight attendants. Surprisingly, a lot of people actually believed we were for real and asked us about how we liked our jobs and where we were flying next.
Berlin’s the hipster capital of the world. No matter how fashion-forward you think you are, this city will put your coolness to shame.
Berlin began its ascent to trendiness in the 1990s. After the wall came down, there were a lot of empty apartment complexes and factories. Artists from the West side saw the opportunity to occupy them and came over to create an underground scene.
Get inspired by industrial environments.
These days, culture is one of the city’s main industries. That along with the cheap cost of living keep the hipsters coming back.
A fun bench.
Use these Berlin street style photos for ideas on what to wear next time you’re there, or to look cooler than everyone else in your own city.
On my first visit, I admit my attire didn’t meet the city’s hipness level.
But I came away with some tips so I’ll be better adapted next time (which I hope will be soon).
You’ll fit right in with a distressed leather bomber jacket.
The hairy chest look. Please don’t try this one?
As I said….lots of other looks to choose from.
Sneakers are a comfy way to be fashionable.
Or a pair of running shoes with obnoxious coloured laces.
Booties and purple tights.
Black boots and legging with holes.
Try a pair of printed shoes.
The scarf and the sunglasses.
Black clothes + phone + coffee. Even cooler.
Pick up your hipster goods at one of the many Berlin markets.
This is the city to experiment with avant-garde hairstyles.
Large headphones. Just remember to turn down the volume if you can’t help listening to Bieber, lest someone else hear.
All black + the downward look at your phone ensures you won’t be bothered by the uncool.
Hang out at a hipster market
A red hat and a melancholic expression
Get some tattoos.
Don’t forget your sunglasses
Note: I’ve provided affiliate links to items to help recreate the outfits.