Carnival in protestant Karlsruhe doesn't have an original tradition. Today's carnival consists of imported Rheinland style carnival clubs, and some guilds from the Catholic villages south of the Alb who do Alemannic Fastnacht. The result is a mix which isn't really convincing. Two big parades take place in the city during carnival: one in Durlach on Sunday and one in Karlsruhe Centre on Tuesday.
The main carnival parade takes place on carnival Tuesday afternoon from 2 p.m. and runs through Marktplatz, Kaiserstraße and Karlstraße. Since no barriers keep the crowds out, the huge carriages get stuck every couple of metres, and the parade takes AGES. Some decorated carriages show inspiration, very few are actually funny, most are just trucks with painted canvas cover On the trucks you see guys in jester caps and girls in guard uniforms, dressed in the respective club's colours according to Rhineland traditions, who throw sweets into the crowd. The tiny alemannic groups in between seem rather lost.
In spite of all this the streets of Karlsruhe see a hundred thousand or more spectators that day. I wonder why. It is, sorry to say this, about the most boring parade I have ever seen. Since there are no railings along most of the route and people push to get at the sweets thrown, the passage is narrow and the huge trucks get stuck. The parade takes ages and there are huge gaps between the groups. From Marktplatz to Stephansplatz (usually a 10 minute walk) the parade needs about an hour. Check the route the parade takes (newspaper, internet, programme leaflets) and stand in a location as close to the starting point as possible to avoid waiting for ages.
A few theme wagons are dealing with local politics. This one is about Europabad, the new pool and spa in Karlsruhe which has been opened in 2008 and caused heaps of trouble, and costs. Political messages, if they are there at all, are rarely witty or funny.
The Sunday parade in Durlach, also beginning at 2 p.m., is shorter and better organized. Presentations are, however, more or less the same as in Karlsruhe, perhaps there are more groups in Alemannic style.
A private group with some imagination... The ladies dressed as dishwashing detergent bottles. In the 1970's Pril, a well-known German brand, came in such blue bottles with a red tap and two flower stickers on each bottle. In those times almost everyone had these stickers „Prilblumen“) in their kitchen to decorate tiles or cupboard doors.
Tribute to Daxlanden
Daxlanden is a suburb in the southwest of the city with a catholic tradition since it historically belonged to the Margraviate of Baden-Baden. Daxlanden is famous for its parade on Carnival Saturday. They have a large jester guild in the suburb itself, invite neighbouring guilds, and there are always many big and small groups from the suburb, from kindergarten to bowling clubs and office staff, who come up with a topic and dress up and maybe even design a small cart. This parade, which is one of the few that happen on Saturday, has always been popular in the whole city.
I have taken these photos in 2016. At that time nobody neither knew nor expected that this would have been the last carnival parade in Daxlanden.
Since 2017, the Daxlanden parade is no more. The reasons for the cancellation are safety reasons, in other words, problems concerning alcohol and garbage. In the previous year some juvenile idiots organized a „flashmob“ and hundreds of drunk youths messed up the celebrations. Afterwards the city has set new safety regulations which are impossible to fulfil for a suburban jester guild. So they cancelled the parade for good. No one knows if Daxlanden’s street carnival will ever see a revival.
This is the biggest problem in and around the large city. There is no real tradition and thus neither knowledge nor respect. The youngsters come for booze and party. They have no interest in the parades and local events. In the Black Forest everyone knows what Fastnacht means and how precious and expensive a Häs is. Many city people have no clue and no care. „Party“ means no more than getting drunk and causing trouble, and who cares about the rest of the world. Because of that widespread rowdyness I restrain myself from visiting the smaller parades in the villages around the city. I had long wanted to see the famous Nachtumzug (night parade) in Grötzingen, another suburb. It's too late, though. In regard of the rising problems and readiness for violence and vandalism, for five years the Grötzingen guild have substituted it with a daytime parade.
Here is a photo gallery in memoriam Daxlander Fasnet: