In Germany carnival is associated with the predominantly Roman Catholic states. Frankfurt maintains it carnival tradition because of it's historical ties to the Holy Roman Empire as both the election and coronation city of the Emperors. Today in Frankfurt the celebration mainly takes place in the form of parades and is a fun event for adults and children alike. For a full on carnival experience head to the Rhineland cities of Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz, the extensive festivities developed in these cities as a way of being subversive towards the occupying forces, e.g. the Prussians and the French, during the early 1800's. It was an opportunity to parody the occupiers and the military and, still today, parades march by with people dressed up in military costumes.
Carnival officially commences on 11th November at 11:11, but the key celebrations start on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent and end by Shrove Tuesday. The main event is the street parade. Highly decorated floats pass by throwing sweets for the children and marching bands, some dressed up in military uniforms others in garish costume, provide musical entertainment. The crowd joins in by dressing up too.
In Frankfurt the main parade during 2017 takes place on Sunday 26th February. Starting at 12:11pm, the parade commences at Untermainkai/Untermainbrücke and takes the following route to the Römerberg:
Untermainkai/Untermainbrücke - Neue Mainzer Straße - Friedensstraße - Kaiserstraße - Roßmarkt - Goetheplatz - Rathenauplatz - Biebergasse - Hauptwache -Katharienenpforte - Bleidenstraße - Liebfrauenberg - Töngesgasse - Fahrgasse - Battonnstraße - Kurt-Schumacher-Straße - Fahrgasse - Braubachstraße - Römerberg - Mainkai
Why start at 12:11pm and not 12 o'clock? One theory is the the number eleven, pronounced "elf" in German is an acronym of the French revolution cry of egalité, liberté, fraternité and the number 11 was a reference to the struggle of the German states, in the early 1800's, demanding democracy and liberty from the ruling classes.
Happy Karneval everyone! PS: Listen out for the traditional Frankfurt carnival cry of "Frankfurt Helau!"
Future karneval dates
2018: February 11th - 13th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 14th
2019: March 3rd - 5th. Ash Wednesday falls on March 6th
2020: February 25th - 27th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 26th
2021: February 14th - 16th. Ash Wednesday falls on Feb 17th