+49 (0) 7841 / 681 653

How Fastnacht-association in Europe celebrate the “fifth season”

How Fastnacht-association in Europe celebrate the “fifth season”

“Tuntenwettlauf” on Tenerife, confetti battle on the Côte d’Azur: A foray through Europe’s carnival traditions.

Handmade speeches and lightly clad sparks: Not all of Europe is part of the carnival. But there is a lot of celebration in many places – whether on the Côte d’Azur, the Canary Islands or the Venice lagoon, where the Italians dance on opulent balls. As different as the cultures are, so are their carnival festivals – here is an overview for holidaymakers who want to celebrate somewhere else than on the Rhine or Neckar.


The largest carnival festival in Europe does not take place in Mainz, Cologne or Düsseldorf, but on the holiday island of Tenerife. “Similar to Germany, celebrations take place here on the streets,” says Gabriele Kuminek from the Canary Islands tourism agency. But instead of freezing in the freezing cold, the Jecken sunbathe in Tenerife at temperatures around 20 degrees.
The “fifth season” in Tenerife lasts almost a month. The foolish days begin on February 15 with the introduction of all candidates for the election of the Carnival Queen. Another highlight is the “Tunten-competition” on March 11th in Puerto de la Cruz: “Travesty artists of the island then complete a course on ten centimeter high heels,” says Kuminek. In peak years, more than a million visitors come to Tenerife for the carnival, which ends on March 13 with a large parade.


At the Confederation’s most famous carnival festival, the Basel Carnival, visitors have to get up early so as not to miss the start. On March 14th – i.e. only after Ash Wednesday – all the city lights will be extinguished by the St. Martin Church just in time for the four o’clock strike. Then people tune to the melody of the “Morgenstraich” and light colorfully painted lanterns. “The ‘Morgenstraich’ is also the highlight of the carnival,” says Thomas Vetsch from Switzerland Tourism. The event ends on March 17th at 4 a.m. The Basel Carnival has the longest tradition in Switzerland and most visitors: “Over 200,000 people roam the streets in mid-March,” Vetsch estimates.


20 tons of confetti and more than 100,000 flowers are needed for the most important carnival event on the Côte d’Azur. The Nice Carnival is a real crowd-puller, with more than a million people flocking to the city every year. “It is a festival of colors,” says Thomas Schmidt from the Atout France tourism center. The carnival is less interactive than in Germany, but all the more imaginative. “People watch and admire – from a distance. It’s a completely different feeling.”

From February 18, 180 bizarre cardboard cardboard heads, colorful flower parades, music groups and street performers circle the Place Masséna in Nice several times a week. The city’s carnival tradition dates back to the Middle Ages. Before Lent began, there was a happy time when people spoiled themselves with hearty dishes. These days traditionally end on Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”), the French name for Mardi Gras.


The “Carnevale di Venezia” in the lagoon city is mysterious. “Differentness” is the magic of the foolish time in Venice, says Christine Hübner from the Italian National Tourist Board: “Typical are imaginative costumes, Venetian masks and opulent balls in the palazzi.” The ten-day carnival opens on February 26th with a parade and the famous “Volo dell’angelo” (angel flight), which takes place a day later. As in previous years, a well-known personality will float on a rope from the Campanile, the bell tower on St. Mark’s Square, to earth – but who it is this year will not be revealed beforehand.


The largest carnival festival in Adrialand takes place in the port city of Rijeka. “The mood is much more relaxed than in Germany and there are far fewer drunks compared to Cologne,” says Mirna Bender from the Croatian National Tourist Board. More than 250,000 visitors are expected this year. The highlight is traditionally a big move, this year on March 6th. “On this day everyone is on the street,” says Bender. A group of bell-bearers then hides under the animal masks through the streets. The tradition is to “ring back” fertility after the long winter. Ash Wednesday, the foolish hustle and bustle in Rijeka will come to an end – until the year after.

Original article from Jürgen Freitag from 28.01.2011 here