Frankfurt Carnival (Karneval) Parade - February 10th & 11th 2018

Karneval History

"Frankfurt Helau!" at the Karveval Parade

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.

Frankfurt Karneval 2018

In Frankfurt the main parade during 2018 takes place on Sunday 11th 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

Childrens Karneval Parade

The Children's Karneval Parade will be on Saturday February 10th, starting at 12.11pm. The parade starts at Konstablerwache and walks through to Römerberg. 

Why do parades start at 12:11pm?

Why start a parade 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

That's right, just trundle your canon across the town square, why don't you!

Frankfurt: from Konstablerwache to Sachsenhausen

January, February and March are cold months in Frankfurt. Even so it's still possible to explore and, by browsing a shop or two or enjoying a new cafe, you get the chance to intermittently warm up. The walk I'm suggesting for such a Winter's day takes you into what appears to be an unassuming part of town, filled with 1950's post war architecture but delivering some lovely cafes, galleries and views which you might otherwise never notice. The walk is simply a straight line from north to south and over the river.
Starting at Konstablerwache, if it's Thursday or Saturday you have the chance to peruse the farmers market, eat a bratwurst and have a glass of Glühwein from one of the wine stalls. From Konstablerwache head south, down Fahrgasse.

 Fahrgasse, starting at Konstablerwache in the heart of Frankfurt

Fahrgasse, starting at Konstablerwache in the heart of Frankfurt

Within 100 metres, you'll notice a large wall on the left hand side of the street. It's a fragment of the old medieval wall from the 12th century, the Staufenmauer. It also served as the northern entrance to the Jewish Ghetto, the Judengasse, decreed in 1462 and the first Jewish ghetto in Europe. Destroyed in the late 1800's, nothing remains of the ghetto today.

 An der Staufenmauer, at the junction of Fahrgasse and Töngesgasse

An der Staufenmauer, at the junction of Fahrgasse and Töngesgasse

Carry on heading south and the first half of Fahrgasse has a variety of Asian stores and if it's lunch time you might want to stop by one of the authentic restaurants, e.g. Mikuni, and have a bite to eat. If you prefer a coffee then carry on down Fahrgasse, crossing over Berliner Strasse and towards the river. This half of Fahrgasse has antique shops and galleries on both sides of the street that are worth a browse.

Part way down the street, on the right hand side, is a small street called Weckmarkt. At the very entrance of this street is a modern jewellery store called "feinform" which offers some interesting contemporary pieces and is worth a peek. Back onto Fahrgasse and a little further south is a whiskey shop, Whiskey for Life  which is every whiskey drinkers dream. If you're lucky you might catch a tasting. Opposite on the other side of the street is the Holy Cross Brewing Society, reputedly one of the best coffee stops in town. In fact, you're spoilt for choice for places to relax and eat in this area. Check out Cafe Sugar Mama , Naiv and Langosch.

If you're not quite ready for a stop then walk to the end of Fahrgasse and onto the Alte Brücke. As you step onto the bridge look to your left to see the fine statue of Karl der Grosse, aka Charlemagne. He was the King of the Frankish tribesmen and the first person to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor. He's also gave Frankfurt it's name which means, 'the ford of the Franks'. As you cross the bridge, take in the view of the ECB, European Central Bank on the left hand side and get your camera ready for the classic 'Skyline' view of Frankfurt to your right. Once over the river, keep to the left hand side of the bridge and at it's end, cross over the road (Sachsenhäuser Ufer) and head straight down the side street which is the beginning of Brückenstraße. Almost immediately you'll discover the entrance to the Ikonen Museum which has quite the collection of religious artefacts. Next door is the Deutschordenskirche. It's usually open by 12 noon, so step inside and take a look around. If it's January you're in for a special treat because the nativity scene is quite something to behold.

 Ikonen Museum, Frankfurt.

Ikonen Museum, Frankfurt.

From the church, continue down Brückenstraße, over the junction. You're now in the heart of Sachsenhausen. Immediately to your left is the Brücke Cafe, serving coffee, home-made cakes, drinks and meals late into the evening. Further down the street are clothing boutiques and plenty of stores for window shopping. One highlight is the Portuguese gourmet shop at number 60 - Casa de Portugal  Here you can buy groceries, port, terracotta pots and freshly baked Portuguese specialities. It's a great little place. Down at this corner of Brückestraße is another great cafe, Schiller Cafe, serving breakfasts and meals all day. 

Wander back up Brückestraße, and turn right (east) along Wallstraße. Again, this street hosts an array of independent shops, restaurants and in particular two classic apple wine taverns, Fichtekranzi and Atschel (Atschel is usually open at lunch time) Next door to Fichte Kranzi is a traditional pottery shop, Töpferei Maurer, selling all things pottery related to Frankfurt's apple wine scene. On Saturdays there is also Markt im Hof, a small venture hosting a couple of food trucks, apple wine tastings and an indoor canteen with innovative choices of food. It's a real favourite with the locals!

By now you've probably seen a few places where you'd like to stop, eat and relax. If you're still in the mood for exploring then look out for my next blog post which will take you across the road and into the heart of Old Sachsenhausen!    

What to do on a winter's day in Frankfurt

Winters can be cold in Frankfurt and, although bright and crisp outside, it's only a matter of time before you hanker for somewhere indoors to keep yourself warm. Here are some ideas for the winter months.

Frankfurt cinemas screening films in English

Some cinemas in Frankfurt screen films in the original language, e.g. a British film in english or a French film in french, with German subtitles. Here are some recommendations for watching films in English.

Metropolis, close to the Eschenheimer Tor. Check their webpage for the up to date programme and look for films with the UK/USA flag and "screening in English" written next to it.

E-Kinos,  at Hauptwache (near the Sparkasse). Original language screenings are usually on a Sunday or Monday. Scroll down the program and look for the screening times. If there is an "Original Version" screening then it will be shown at the bottom of the time list .

Mal Seh'n Kino, in Nordend on Adlerflychtstraße. Check the program; for English language films look directly under the title of the film for"englische OmU" or "amerikanische OmU" .

Harmonie cinema, in Sachsenhausen screens films in the original language on Mondays and, occasionally, on additional days. That means French films are screened in French, American films in English etc. Look out for UK/USA films and the words "Engl. OmU" which means "English with (German) subtitles."

Orfeos on Hamburgerallee occasionally screens films in the original language. An added bonus is the lovely restaurant which serves very good pre-screening dinners. To see which films are in English, check the programme for "engl. mit dt. Ut" meaning "English with German subtitles." 

The English Theatre in Frankfurt

The English Theatre hosts some excellent productions. The theatre bar offers snacks and drinks and pre-ordering for interval drinks too. For post-theatre dining, Fundus on Willy-Brandt Platz stays open until midnight. This January and February 2017 the theatre is showing Spamalot. Check this link for dates, times and tickets. 

 Inside the Kaisersaal with it's 52 portraits of the Holy Roman Emperors

Inside the Kaisersaal with it's 52 portraits of the Holy Roman Emperors

Frankfurt museums

Frankfurt's museums have regular visiting exhibits so there is always something new to see. This link offers more in-depth information on the entrance fees, a link to the official museums page and regular museum opening times (e.g. many museums are shut on a Monday). A few of the of the visiting exhibits are listed on my "Monthly events in Frankfurt" page, 

City centre cultural excursions

Paulskirche on Paulsplatz is otherwise known as the "Cradle of German Democracy" it was in this building that the first Parliament was hosted in 1848. Today the church is open and free to the public and hosts a permanent exhibit. At the ground floor level text is offered in English, as well as German, and a mural by Johannes Grützke depicts, "The Path of the Representatives to St. Paul's Church." Upstairs hang the flags of the 16 states of Germany.

Attend an organ recital at the Kaiserdom (cathedral). The organ was installed in 1957 and is a spectacular instrument. Details of up and coming recitals are listed on the WALK-FRANKFURT, "Monthly events in Frankfurt" page.

Visit the Kaisersaal - The Imperial Hall displays 52 portraits of the Holy Roman Emperors from Charlemagne (Karl der Große) to Franz II. The entrance can been found on the southside of the Römer building, on Limpurgergasse. Enter through the iron gates and in the courtyard there is a machine where you pay your 2€ entrance fee. Walk up the spiral steps to enter the building. Once inside go up the next set of stairs into the Imperial Hall.  Open between 10:00 - 13:00 and 14:00 - 17:00. Occasionally the Kaisersaal is closed due to private events.

Visit the Cloister (free entry) within the Institute for the History of Frankfurt, and hire an audio guide (2€) detailing the medieval frescos of Jörg Ratgeb. The institute also hosts free exhibits about Frankfurt upstairs. At present the exhibit details the development and maintenance of the Frankfurt Greenbelt.

 Jörg Ratgeb frescos at the Carmelite Cloister, Institute for the History of Frankfurt

Jörg Ratgeb frescos at the Carmelite Cloister, Institute for the History of Frankfurt

Go to the Zoo - even during the winter the Zoo is open everyday and has indoor houses as well as outdoor enclosures. Check the webpage for opening and closing times. Right now the Zoo is collecting old mobile phones to raise money for the mountain gorillas in the Congo - have a quick clear out and take your old mobile phone along!

Cafes

If you're in town then check out some of these cafes, listed in another blog post, in which to rest your weary legs and warm up with a coffee, tea or better still a hot chocolate.
--

Frankfurt's museums are free on the last Saturday of the month

SaTOURday - free entry

On the last Saturday of every month the museums of Frankfurt open their doors and offer free entrance and this month the last Saturday falls on November 26th. This event is known as SaTOURday. There are a few exceptions to this monthly event as follows:

  • In August and December there is no SaTOURday
  • The following museums do not participate in SaTOURday and still charge an entrance fee:
    • The Film Museum (Deutschen Filmmuseum)
    • EXPERIMINTA Science Centre
    • Goethe House Museum (Goethe-Haus)
    • Communication Museum (Museum für Kommunikation)
    • Senckenberg Natural Science Museum (Naturmuseum Senckenberg)
    • The Palm Garden (Palmengarten)

A huge variety of museums within walking distance

During the winter months the museums are great places to go and get away from the cold outdoors and there are 34 museums to choose from. Information about the museums can be found, in English, on the Museums Embankment website.

The variety of museums is astounding; modern art, classic art, photography, film, natural history and many of them are within walking distance of each other along the Museumsufer on the south bank of the River Main (see image below and this map link will take you to the original map)

The curators have done an incredible job of raising the profile of Frankfurt's museums and World class exhibitions regularly visit the city, Monet at the Städel and Aardman at the Film museum to name but two, and the Schirn Art Hall has worked in conjunction with the Tate and the Centre Pompidou. Many of the museums have a cafe, accessible without paying an entrance fee, that offer freshly made lunch options, drinks and cakes too.

Map of the Museums located centrally in frankfurt

Value for money cards

If you live in Frankfurt and like to visit the museums frequently then the Museums Embankment card is great value for money.  Costing 85€ annually (2016), it offers free entrance to 34 museums and all exhibitions. A family of two adults and two children can buy a card for 150€. Just ask for a museums card at the reception of any museum when you visit. You'll be issued with a temporary paper pass which is usable until your official pass is sent in the post.

2017: Students and youths gain free entry in some museums

As from 2017 many of the museums are offering free entrance for students and youths under 17 years of age. However, the are some notable exceptions: The Senckenberg-Museum, The Städel, The Liebieghaus, The Kunsthalle Schirn, The Deutsche Filmmuseum, The Museum Giersch and The Museum of Communication.

Value for tourists and visitors

If you are simply visiting Frankfurt then an alternative option is the Museumsufer ticket  It costs just 18€ (2016) and offers free entrance to the 34 museums and exhibitions for two full days. For a family of two adults and two children, a ticket costs just 28€. Again, just ask at the reception when you visit the first museum and they will issue the ticket. If the museums are closed on one of the days you are visiting (museums are shut on Mondays) then the ticket is valid for the following day.

 THe Städel museum, opposite the holbeinsteg (bridge) on the museumsufer

THe Städel museum, opposite the holbeinsteg (bridge) on the museumsufer