Carnival in the Tri-Border Region


What is Carnival???

A) A week off of school and a great time for a trip somewhere outside of the area

B) A great excuse to buy (and wear) the wildest costume imaginable and to drink enough to make you forget how many photos you’ll be tagged in later on Facebook.

C) A time to gather with friends and family and watch parades in your local villages.

D) The perfect time to play before Lent. This is where krapfen come in. Please eat one extra for me (they taste better than they sound).

E) All of the above

The answer is E. Of course, technically, Carnival is tied to Catholicism as a time to celebrate a bit before the seriousness of Lent, a time to play before giving up something for a time. Many people leave the area taking advantage of the week off of school to travel, but at least one year while living here, you really should stay, perhaps get some ear plugs because it is loud, but enjoy the culture of Carnival. It really is fun.

Altweiberball:  A party on “Women’s Day” where women “rule” for the day, these are usually on the wilder side and are not appropriate for children.


Kid Friendly?  For may carnival events, if it’s an evening event, there will most likely be a lot of alcohol and it will not be an appropriate place for children. Cologne has the wildest parade and though they give out the most candy, the costumes are the skimpiest and the sense of humor, the most overtly lewd.  It’s also insanely crowded. For a more relaxing time with the family, stick to smaller local parades or Sittard’s Kinderoptocht. For singles and those of you who are still young enough to party, Cologne may be perfect for you.

That being said, the photograph above was taken in Langbroich, Germany. Even local parades could have smoking, alcohol, and plastic breasts, so consider this your warning.  In my experience, Langbroich is, perhaps, one of the bigger parades around here and has the most alcohol. We didn’t see any of this at the Gillrath parades the years we attended and, of course, there are always the children’s parades that are much more family-friendly.



A Kindersitzung is a children’s carnival party. If you see one advertised in the newspaper, check it out. It will be a good children’s event.


Parades: I love the Jeugdoptocht’s in the Netherlands and my little Gillrath parade as those are so wonderfully family-friendly. Do go to the smaller parades. Dress up (parade spectators dress up as much as the participants), bring an inverted umbrella (for candy), and enjoy the fun. In my experience, they throw A LOT of candy on the German side of the border and just a few pieces if any on the Dutch side.

Excuses:  Allow a few extra minutes this week. It is not abnormal to get stuck behind a carnival float and/or tractor full of balloons. This is a great excuse for being late (or not depending on your boss).

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