Behind the masks: a look at the unique carnival in Munich

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There is a special magic in the air on the streets of Munich when carnival fills the city with colourful costumes, cheerful parades and an enthusiastic atmosphere. In this blog post, we immerse ourselves in the unique world of Munich carnival, led by the traditional Narrhalla.

The word carnival developed from the word “Fastnacht”. The origins of the Munich carnival can be found in the dances of arms and knights’ games of the Middle Ages. From the 15th century onwards, carnival activities were repeatedly mixed with local customs. However, it was only with the founding of the Narrhalla in 1893 that Munich carnival took on its very own character. As the city’s first carnival society, the Narrhalla not only organised a festive parade, but was also involved in charity work from the very beginning in order to support the people in need.

Even though carnival in Munich is nowhere near as well known as in Cologne, there are still some interesting events. As the Munich grumblers once said: “Carnival is not for fun, my Liaber, that’s where the fun ends.” (quote from Karl Valentin). Nowadays, carnival is also celebrated in Munich in an exuberant and cheerful way.

For example, there is the traditional carnival parade through the city and the market women’s dance at the Viktualienmarkt on Carnival Tuesday. A highlight of the carnival season is the “München Narrisch” open-air party in the city centre. Stages are set up on Marienplatz and Karlsplatz-Stachus, where numerous music and dance groups perform on carnival days. Traditional court balls and artists’ parties are also held in abundance. Munich’s carnival strongholds include the Deutsches Theater, the Augustinerkeller and many more.