In Munich, they count the “fifth season” – as Karneval is known – as, if anything, mildly foolish. For decades has the city didn’t even have its own parade. But now the Bavarian capital is getting a bit of party-coaching from the Karneval-crazy folks of Cologne.
In the Schrannenhalle shopping centre next door to Munich’s world-renowned Viktualienmarkt, the serious parties will be kicking off Thursday under the motto, “Cologne meets Munich.”
Organisers expect 3,000 visitors a day.
From ”Fat Thursday” through to Shrove Tuesday, partygoers can eat Mettbrötchen raw pork and Frikadellen meatballs with typical Kölsch beer from Cologne. An influx of Karneval businesses, DJs and live bands from the Rhineland are aiming to bring a bit of atmosphere to “dreary” Bavaria.
“Munich residents need a little extra coaching in partying,” declared the organiser Joachim Pohl, apparently willingly ignoring the city’s famous beer bash Oktoberfest.
Cologne-born Pohl has lived in Bavarian “exile” for more than 30 years and is co-owner of Coellner im Paragraphen, a Cologne-style pub in Munich whose staff have been helping Bavarians celebrate Karneval for a few years while also offering homesick Rhinelanders a bit of comfort.
The chairman of the Cologne-Munich Karneval Association, Hans-Joachim Zimmermann, also has his doubts about the partying skills of the folks in the city and would, frankly, rather celebrate in Cologne.
“The flights home are already booked out. If you dress up on Karneval weekend in Munich, people look at you with confusion and amusement,” he said.
Rhinelanders in Bavaria who have no chance to flee home therefore see the parties thrown by their compatriots from Cologne as a welcome refuge.
A “newcomer” female student from Cologne said she was dismayed by the level of Karneval enthusiasm – or lack of it – in Munich.
“Here in Munich, people have no idea about Karneval, but I’ll make the best of the Fasching-façade here,” she explained.
Uli Kreuzer, the president of the Karneval firm Narrhalla, has an imaginative explanation for the “not so intense” way of celebrating the holiday in the Bavarian capital.
“The effect of Bavarian beer is very calming,” he said. Kreuzer is pleased, nevertheless, to be able to welcome a few “funny and loud” Rhinelanders in Munich each year.
As for why Rhinelanders party so hard in their relatively mild climate, he adds: “Rhinelanders don’t have the winter-time leisure activities.”
To the exiled Cologne-fan, Pohl, it is all good fun either way.
He has found a second home in Munich and is able to preserve the old love of Karneval through his Cologne pub and the “clownish cultural import.”
In the Schrannenhalle, meanwhile, the preparations for the big event are continuing. Some 30,000 liters of Kölsch are ready to be tapped – an important tool helping Pohl his team of 70 people bring a bit of the Rhineland to his hometown to the Isar River.