top of page

'Alaaf' and 'Helau'

Carnival is upon Germany

Hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists take to the streets on the biggest German party event of the year: Carnival.

Germans love their ‘Karneval’ or how they say in Southern Germany ‘Fasting' or 'Fastnacht’. The typical greetings at carnival time are 'Alaaf' or 'Helau'.

Yesterday Germans across the country, dressed in fancy and creative costumes and with colourful make-up, started the five days of Carnival celebrations. The main Carnival events in Germany take place on the last weekend before the Lent.

Lent is the 40-day fasting period before Easter which is observed by Christians worldwide.

Fat Thursday, in German called 'Carnival of Women' (Weiberfastnacht) officially starts off the Carnival weekend celebrations on Thursday and ‘Rose Monday’ Rosenmontag and ‘Shrove Tuesday’ are attracting millions of visitors every year.

Children usually are allowed to dress up in colourful costumes for school from Thursday. Even in offices, shops and on the street you will encounter people with bright make-up, fancy costumes and sometimes scary masks.

Cologne in western Germany is known as ‘THE carnival city of Germany’ . There the annual Ghost Parade takes place on Saturday, and another big parade with and for children is on Sunday. However, the biggest street parade which takes place on Monday will attract more than 10,000 participants on over 70 floats and parading carnivalists along the city centre.

The many street parties usually take the city centres to a standstill during the Carnival weekend. There are noisily and cheerfully celebrated street parades and carnival open-air concerts as well as masked balls.

Carnival is celebrated throughout the country, but the major carnival strongholds in Germany are Cologne, Dusseldorf and Mainz in central western Germany. The Carnival season starts already on 11 November at 11h11 and is often refereed to as Fifth Season.

source: The Local

image: Ian Law/


bottom of page