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Karlsruhe: Big City Woes


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.

Alemannic groups marching in the parade


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:


Posted by Kathrin_E 15:30 Archived in Germany Tagged carnival karlsruhe baden-württemberg alemannic_fastnacht Comments (0)

Karlsruhe-Durlach 2018

"Durlach cheers, laughs and sings
When the jester the sceptre swings"
... the motto for 2018. Not exactly meaningful, sorry.


Due to lousy weather forecasts for the Black Forest region for Sunday, opposed to greyish but okay conditions at home, I decided to stay in Karlsruhe and give our local carnival another chance. The advantage was being able to go there by bicycle independent of crowded public transport, although cycling 2 x nine kilometres in rather strong cold wind from the side (i. e. no advantage in either direction) was not too funny.

I chose a spot in the western parts of Durlach close to the starting point of the parade, not in the centre. Thanks to that I did not see anything of the mess that happened further ahead. I only read on the news afterwards that the parade was stopped by a mob of drunk youths. Police were present and interfered, so that the parade was able to continue as planned.

I have already previously discussed the problems we have in the city with juvenile idiots whose idea of “fun” is ruining everyone else’s fun. They have no interest at all in carnival, neither know nor care a thing about it, all they want is cause trouble. This has already led to the discontinuation of some parades like Daxlanden and Grötzingen. Sooner or later this may set an end to street carnival altogether, I’m afraid. It’s a shame, and a worrysome development in society. What are these people thinking, or are they too brainless to think at all?


Anyway, back to Durlach. The parade was about half and half: Carnival clubs Rhineland style from the city on the one hand, Alemannic jester guilds from the suburbs and villages in the surroundings on the other. Many of these guilds make their appearance every year, both in Durlach and in the Tuesday parade in Karlsruhe; they also used to be among the regulars in Daxlanden. I suppose that most of them are too small to have their own parades in their villages, so they join and approfit from the big ones in the city. Some are traditional, others are really really wild and scary.





The carnival clubs had their wagons in the parade. Two of them were floats that had motives and transported a political message (one stupid, one brainy), although the quality was nowhere near what you’d get to see in Mainz or Cologne or Düsseldorf. One had this big jester hat. The others were simply normal trucks, decorated with a bit of painted canvas. Rather lame, dear carnival clubs.

I wholeheartedly agree with the wish to shoot Trump and Kim Jong Un to the moon...

The trucks carried the members of the Councils of Eleven (Elferrat) and other members with jester hats, and the girls of the dancing guards in their uniforms and wigs, throwing sweets into the crowd. That’s all they have to offer.


A few independent groups in between were more interesting. The the one and only really cool wagon was the huge pirate ship.


The parade also included two or three good Guggemusik bands.

In that side street where I was standing, there was a bit of a “neighbourhood feeling”. Several people among the spectators around me were greeted by participants who knew them – be it with sweets or with snubs and confetti attacks. To be fair, an event in a large city can never have the same familiarity as in a small town where everyone knows everyone.

Nevertheless… compare with the previous entry, Zell am Harmersbach. The atmosphere, the imagination, the design of the costumes, the details, the amount of enthusiasm in the participants’ faces.


The end of the parade sums it up. The last group in the procession is the garbage brigade that immediately sweeps away all traces of carnival, confetti, candy wrappers and leftover sweets, and it’s over, everything back to normal. While in places like Zell the street party begins…

Posted by Kathrin_E 14:17 Archived in Germany Tagged carnival karlsruhe alemannic_fastnacht Comments (0)

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