SHARE
COPY LINK

HOLIDAYS

Karneval – the schedule

The Local’s Karneval guide makes sure you’re in time to get sloshed.

Karneval – the schedule
Photo: DPA

11:11 am on November 11

While the rest of Europe remembers those fallen in World War I on Armistice Day, a small group of over-zealous Germans annually choose this moment to pretend that the confluence of number ones gives them a reason to host a Karneval “opening.” Various modest events take place on the streets of Germany’s cities, including the presentation of the Karneval Prince and Princess, after which everyone goes home sheepishly. Then, nothing at all happens until…

January 6 – Dreikönigstag – Epiphany

An ancient feast day with its Orthodox origins was once chosen as the real start of Karneval in the German-speaking world. But again, not much happens, except to give Germany’s chartered accountants an official license to dress up as pirates and shout things like “Ho Narro!” behind you while you’re trying to drink a milkshake. As this day is fixed on the calendar, and Ash Wednesday, the conclusion of Karneval, is dependent on Easter, Karneval-time gets compressed some years. Last year’s Karneval was the shortest since 1913 – which was probably terribly upsetting for some pirate accountants.

Schmotziger Donnerstag – Fat Thursday

The Thursday before Ash Wednesday is the day that the first parades and street festivals appear. It is also known as Weiberfastnacht, which could be translated as Wenches’ Carnival. According to an ancient protocol, reborn with the modern Karneval-era in 1823, this is traditionally the day when “women and girls” rip off each other’s clothes in the street, and rub themselves a salty, artery-clogging fat called Schmalz – hence Schmotzig. Ok, ok that part about girls greasing down each other is not actually true, but we wish it was. Instead, women celebrate Weiberfastnacht by running around the Rhineland and snipping off the ties of men dumb enough to wear one this day. Supposedly they’re compensated for losing this symbol of their manhood with a kiss. It has also become tradition for groups of women to storm local town halls in the Rhineland to show who’s wearing the trousers.

Rosenmontag

The traditional Saturnalian highpoint of Karneval, named not after roses, but rasen, the German term for what the British call “going on a bender.” The centres of the Rhine cities get very crowded, and very sexually charged, usually by mid-morning. The drug of choice is Feigling, the fig-based liquor that is only drunk in a mood of desperate celebration, and the costumes are often quite suggestive. Put it this way – a lot people don’t come out for the parades with the satirical floats.

Fastnachtsdienstag – Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras

This is essentially an extension of Rosenmontag, but the atmosphere is slightly tempered by the impending end of the fifth season on Ash Wednesday. It is also known as Veilchendienstag, or Violet Tuesday – a continuation of the misleading flower theme which one innocent fool once used to name the whole Karneval weekend: Nelkensamstag (Carnation Saturday), Tulpensonntag, (Tulip Sunday) and Rosenmontag. However, flowers play very little part in proceedings.

For members

TRAVEL

When will tourism in Germany open up again?

Some German states, including Bavaria, have announced that hotels will reopen after months of a Covid -shutdown. We looked at what the next weeks have in store.

When will tourism in Germany open up again?
People on the beach in Sylt on April 23rd. Photo:picture alliance/dpa | Axel Heimken

For around six months, overnight accommodation in Germany has only been allowed to open for business or essential travellers.

But things are looking up – finally. Some states are taking the first steps towards reopening the tourism sector, allowing people to think about travel.

READ ALSO: When will Germany ease international restrictions on travel?

Germany has two national public holidays coming up – Ascension Day, which is also Father’s Day in Germany, on Thursday May 13th. Then there’s Whitsun holiday on Monday May 24th. Corpus Christi on June 3rd results in a day off for six states, including Bavaria.

What are German states saying at the moment?

Bavaria

On Tuesday, the southern state of Bavaria – a major holiday destination for Germans – announced holidays should be possible in areas with low coronavirus infection rates from Friday May 21st. That’s just in time for Whitsun.

In districts and cities with a stable 7-day incidence of less than 100 Covid infections per 100,000 residents, hotels, holiday apartments and campsites would be allowed to reopen to all guests under the plans.

Outdoor dining, theatres, and cinemas are also to open in the state soon.

Bavaria is especially popular for its picturesque Alpine locations such as Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Berchtesgaden.

READ MORE: Bavaria plans to open for tourists on May 21st

Schleswig-Holstein

Tourism is already starting up again in parts of Schleswig-Holstein, which has the lowest Covid rates in Germany. So-called ‘model’ projects are testing out how tourism can open up step by step.

READ ALSO: Dozens of German districts and cities see major drop in Covid-19 cases

Holidaymakers returned to Sylt – the largest German North Sea island – on Saturday May 1st, as part of the North Frisian tourist model initiative.

Tourism there is ramped up again under strict conditions – and all with the proviso that infections do not increase significantly.

Holidaymakers need a negative coronavirus test upon arrival and have to be re-tested every 48 hours. During the project, restaurants are also allowed to open on Sylt and certain leisure activities, such as hikes and city tours, are also possible.

Enjoying beach life on Sylt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Axel Heimken

North Friesland is one of four model tourist regions in Schleswig-Holstein. The projects are to initially last a month with the option of extension. The pilot is already underway in the Schleiregion and Eckernförde, Büsum and the Bay of Lübeck with the popular Timmendorfer Strand on the Baltic Sea to follow.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about the latest rules on travel to and from Germany

Lower Saxony

In Lower Saxony, too, the first steps in bringing tourism back to life slowly is on the cards. The retail and hospitality sector will begin to open from next week in districts with incidence rates ​​below 100.

All shops will be allowed to open under strict conditions from Monday.

The hospitality sector and hotels will then be able to start gradually opening under strict precautionary rules.

Hotels will be able to open at 60 percent capacity, provided that guests present a negative Covid test on arrival and take new tests every day.

Hotels are initially only allowed to accommodate guests from Lower Saxony. According to the state government in Hanover, two thirds of all districts in Lower Saxony currently have an incidence rate of less than 100. These include many districts from tourist regions along the North Sea coast.

What are the rules right now on travel – and what’s the overall picture?

Across Germany there is no ban on travel. However, as has been the case since November last year, non-essential travel is strongly discouraged.

Germany also recently tightened measures across the country to battle a third wave of Covid-19. In areas where there are more than 100 Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people, restrictions including curfews and tighter contact rules are in place.

But coronavirus infection rates are falling in Germany, and vaccinations are ramping up. This is all good news – and experts hope that the country is on the way to beating the third wave.

READ ALSO: ‘Summer will be good’: Has Germany broken the third wave?

All states will start to open public life further when the infection numbers fall below 100 Covid cases per 100,000 residents in seven days. The hope is that they will continue to drop even more so that other facilities can open.

The federal government’s Tourism Commissioner Thomas Bareiß, of the CDU, said he is “very confident” that widespread travel within Germany will be possible again from June.

“I am very confident that holiday trips with us will be possible in more and more regions from June onwards,” said Bareiß.

He had a bit less hope for travelling over the Whitsun holidays around May 24th. “This will unfortunately fall through again in many holiday regions,” he said.

He told German daily Bild that hotels and restaurants have safety plans in place for when they reopen.

The German government is pushing through new measures which will see fully vaccinated people – and those who’ve recovered from Covid – face fewer restrictions, such as the need to provide a negative Covid test to go shopping or to the hairdresser.

However, there are no plans to open facilities like restaurants and hotels only for these groups.

READ ALSO: ‘Closer to normality’: Germany takes step to ease Covid curbs for vaccinated people

SHOW COMMENTS