My First Real Karneval



HELAAAAU!!! It’s finally here- Karneval! In some countries you might be familiar with the concept of Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras or Fat Thursday. But here in Nordrhein-Westfalen, we celebrate KARNEVAL- the period before Lent when you can pretty much go buck wild. I’ve been living around Germany for almost 6 years now, but never in a city which celebrates Karneval in such a way. And holy crap, are they celebrating! While I know that the festivities will continue for five more days, I actually don’t know a lot else about this craziness that has taken over my city. So I decided that for you, dear reader, I would take a break from my busy schedule[1] and wade into the madness that is Karneval in Dusseldorf. Here are is what I have seen so far:

Ha! Schlager music! I forgot all about that! Oh man, memories…

I’m noticing a large number of what appear to be underage kids drinking hard liquor, and everyone’s cool with it. I obviously was not in the right country growing up.

Why is everyone dressed in a lion/tiger/bear[2] onesie? That is like really low effort for such a “big” holiday. Hell I could have put on a plain onesie, stapled on a tail, and called it a day.


Oh wait- never mind, there’s a guy dressed like a peacock with white leggings. My friend’s telling me this is the “traditional” outfit. Apparently he belongs to one of the many clubs which organize the festivities here. I kinda hope that it’s like rival gangs and his hat’s coloring means he’s ready to rumble with whatever the equivalent of the Sharks are here in Dusseldorf.

Ok, Schlager music is getting a little old now…

Now I’m being told by a very inebriated German that “this isn’t Karneval” because it’s not in Cologne. Apparently in Cologne they wear costumes and stand out in the cold drinking Kölsch. This is very different from Dusseldorf, where they wear costumes and stand out in the cold drinking Altbier. Someone from Duisburg is chiming in now and tells me that there they wear costumes and stand out in the cold just drinking anything with an alcohol percentage.

I thought I had a pretty good grasp of German as a language. Now I’m not so sure- at first I thought everyone was just drunk and slurring, but it seems to have legitimate vocabulary and sentence structure. That being said I have no idea what “tran drop” means, but there are some really friendly men saying “aloha”, which is interesting.


Aloha back!

I’m really done with the Schlager now, can we stop please?

Aw, a drunk girl is giving that homeless man her beer. I guess that during Karneval, social status[3] just goes away.

Whoever said that Germans were very clean and organized never tromped through the streets after 6 hours of celebrating- it’s like a swamp of broken bottles, Spiderman masks, and beer.

Everyone is really friendly- one girl saw I was taking a selfie and ran up to be in it! Then she took my phone and deleted it. I guess she didn’t like the angle.


The market stalls are up from the Christmas markets, but now they’re hawking random costume pieces as well as sausages and beer. That’s… better? No glühwein, though- could have used that in the cold.

Oh one guy doesn’t seem to feel the cold- he’s just in his underwear. He also doesn’t seem to feel the guy slapping his back.

Wow! The Ferris wheel looks really lovely here! I see it moving, but I don’t see anyone on it. Is this just like a very expensive[4] decoration?

Und ich flieg, flieg, flieg, wie ein Flieger, bin so stark, stark, stark, wie ein Tiger…


So that was my experience! I have to admit, I went into this with a very different expectation. I usually don’t go for mass German celebrations, like Oktoberfest or Erster Mai or Spargelzeit. Maybe it’s just the beer or the overall joviality, but I’m starting to get the hang of this! A group of teenagers shared their whiskey with me after I responded “HELAU!” to them. Everyone’s just really happy to be out with each other, it doesn’t seem to feel that cold anymore and I could jus- oh shit someone threw up on my shoes.

For more German festivities, check out “How to Survive (German) New Year’s Eve

Or for more seasonal hilarity, there’s “Santa’s Other Reindeer


[1] Playing “Super Smash Bros.” while watching “The Expanse”

[2] Oh my!

[3] And sobriety

[4] And useless

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2 thoughts on “My First Real Karneval

  1. germanginge says:

    Ein Knaller, Kumpel!

    Liked by 1 person

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