Fasching or Fastnet or Carnival! These are all celebrations throughout Germany. Technically the celebration begins the 11th month (November) at the 11th hour and goes until the first or second week of February. Some regions have a more traditional festival (like the Black Forest) with Fastnet and others more political like Bonn (Carnival) but in the Stuttgart area, it’s more Fasching. Although the terms are used interchangeably, the southern region of Germany celebrates Fastnet, where as the middle states are more Fasching, then the northern parts are Carnival. In the Stuttgart area, Fasching has more scary witches and goblins and interactive participation versus highly decorative fun clown costumes with traditional music in the Black Forest and Bavaria. I like celebrating all of them because they are unique and well…just plain fun.
Weil der Stadt
In the little town of Weil der Stadt close to Stuttgart the first week of February the town comes out to celebrate with a Fasching parade with music, food and beer. This fun parade has marching bands, gymnastics, and definitely authentic costumes. This year I saw a whole float dedicated to “Major Tom” from David Bowie’s song dedicated to his recent passing. If you would like to experience this fun time of year without traveling, I highly recommend Weil der Stadt’s Sunday parade.
- Website for more information
- Take the train, parking is a nightmare! You have to take the S6 to Weil der Stadt, for me that was one transfer and 20 min. ride
- Parade costs €3 per person and you receive a pass (usually something to hang from your neck)
- You can dress up! On this parade day, everyone young and old dress up to watch the parade, especially children
- Not super stroller friendly, although we saw them there, it was really crowded and was hard for parents to walk through the crowds
- Some pranksters will try to “mess” with you, but it’s all fun
- The parade is located in the Stadt Mitte (city center) but do walk around the town, the Fasching water fountain/statue is GREAT!
Ehnigen is a small, little sleeper town just outside of Stuttgart where several people call home while being stationed here. It’s the home of the Sehne bakery and hiking trails that are just beautiful. Another bonus of Ehningen is their Fasching parade. Probably the most interactive festival I’ve ever been a part of in Germany. From the first float to the last everyone is a part of this fun, lively parade.
- Parade is €2 per person, you receive a lanyard with float names and participants
- Take the train, Ehningen is a stop on the S1, an easy ride from Böblingen or Stuttgart’s Stadt Mitte
- Parade is usually end of January
- Highly interactive and sometimes scary characters, **kid’s might be nabbed and taken a few feet away, older kids might be stuffed in wheelbarrow filled with straw or hay
One of my favorite parades and celebrations in Germany is the Rottweil Fastnet parade. This is the oldest, most traditional parade you will find in Baden-Württemberg, I think, maybe in Germany. These townspeople have celebrated with this festival and parade for hundreds of years. The costumes alone can cost up to €3000-5000 each. The bells they carry are about 10 kilos and I can tell you are quite heavy. These ornamental characters have fun too, but there fun is much more subdued than that of their northern neighbors.
- Website for more information
- Parade is always Rosemontag (the Monday of Fasching celebration)
- Parade begins sharply at 8, you must be in line by 7 to get a good view
- It’s COLD, wear appropriate clothing, hats, gloves, etc. (I am also taking a milk carton next year to stand on or styrofoam-because my feet got very cold)
- It’s a 2-hour parade
- Parking is very convenient, look for signs entering town as many streets are closed
- If you are planning to catch a bite following the parade, make reservations