It’s all systems go at 11 am on November 11: Munich’s carnival societies celebrate the start of the zany “fifth season” with the presentation of their prince and princess couples. Here you can read all about the highlights of Fasching in Munich and the history of the festival.
Whether clown’s nose, dinner jacket or elaborately crocheted full-body bee costume – every form of disguise has its place in Munich’s Fasching, or carnival. The city is filled with fun and festivity, dancing and general clownery. The people of Munich have enjoyed themselves at their festivals and balls for generations. The majority of events take place indoors but during the peak period Fasching eventually finds its way into the city’s streets and squares.
The last days of Fasching are its wildest. One highlight of the zany season is the open-air party München Narrisch in the city centre: in 2023, the colourful street festivities are scheduled to take place from February 19 to 21, with stages set up at Marienplatz (main square) and Karlsplatz-Stachus. Numerous music and dance groups perform here on the carnival days.
One legendary highlight is the Dance of the Market Women on Shrove Tuesday, February 21, followed by a carnival gathering on Viktualienmarkt (food market). While the market woman, as they proudly call themselves, once danced around their stalls individually, today they perform together to exuberant music on a podium. Instead of fruit and vegetables, the market stalls sell beer, wine, sparkling wine and mulled wine.
The market women have become quite ambitious: in the course of the year they take professional dance lessons in preparation for their big performance at carnival. The performance by the market women would be inconceivable without the choreography to the cult song by folk singer Weißferdl entitled Wagen von der Linie 8 – a hymn to the Munich tram, full of the humour and griping that is so typical of the city. No chance of keeping a straight face!
The carnival parade of the Damische Ritter (literally: “silly knights”) through parts of Munich’s Fußgängerzone (pedestrian zone) will also take place once again on Sunday, February 12. The exact route has not yet been determined, but the procession will end as always at Platzl near the Hofbräuhaus (beer hall), which is where the post-parade party is held. The procession is traditionally led by “Duke Kasimir” on his castle float. All manner of knights and acolytes join in the parade – garden gnomes, unicorns, girl dancers known as Funkenmariechen, brass and drum groups. And as befits a genuine carnival celebration, there’s always a wealth of political satire, too.
The performance by the market women would be inconceivable without the choreography to the cult song by folk singer Weißferdl entitled Wagen von der Linie 8 – a hymn to the Munich tram, full of the humour and griping that is so typical of the city. No chance of keeping a straight face!
For several years now, the city centre restaurant owners have offered a Weisswurst (veal sausage) brunch on Shrove Monday: this is served during the morning, since according to an old custom a Weisswurst must not hear the clock strike twelve. Last season, guests had to pay only one to two euro per Weisswurst. This year, you can join for example in the inns "Hackerhaus" and "Stiftl".
Munich carnival very much embraces the tradition of the courtly balls and festival halls, as well as the legendary artists’ and studio parties that took place in Schwabing in the late 19th century. Nowadays, every club, guild and fraternity puts on its own ball. The spectrum is wide, with numerous events to choose from – whether colourful Künstlerfeste or balls with evening dress. Fasching in Munich has many faces.
The city’s carnival strongholds include Deutsches Theater and Hotel Bayerischer Hof as well as beer cellars such as Löwenbräukeller and Augustinerkeller. At these venues and others like them, Munich’s Fasching societies, clubs and associations – first and foremost Narrhalla, founded in 1893 – organise festive gala evenings, balls and parties for carnival fans both young and old, ranging from a samba party at Carneval in Rio to the family-friendly Pumuckl Ball. After the break imposed by Covid, the traditional children’s event, the Kinderball der Damischen Ritter, will also take place again this year at Löwenbräukeller on Sunday, February 19.
Friday, January 27: Oide Wiesn Bürgerball
Saturday, January 28: Großer Narrhalla Ball
Friday, February 3: Gaudeamus Ball
Saturday, February 4: Ball der Nationen
Friday, February 10: ball.total
Saturday, February 11: Münchner Tanznacht
Sunday, February 12: Kinderfasching
Friday, February 17: Ball der Sterne
Saturday, February 18: Rock That Swing Ball
Sunday, February 19: Jamboree Ball
Saturday, February 4: Magnolienball, Information and tickets
Sunday, February 5: Pumuckl und der Faschingsprinz, tickets
Sunday, February 5: Monika’s Zirkuskinder, tickets
Saturday, February 11: Carneval in Rio, tickets
Monday, February 20 (Carnival Monday): Traditioneller Medizinerball, tickets
To kick off the big Flower Power Festival, the Münchner Künstlerhaus will be celebrating its legendary Gauklerball in Flower Power Flow throughout the house on Saturday, 4.2.2023. Dance the night away in the Hippie Hall and the Flower Foyer to the live sound of Buck Roger and the Sidetrackers and DJ Booby Evs. Experience The Beatles Tribute Show, the Flower Power Medley by the Iwanson International School of Contemporary Dance and the Love & Peace Principle Albrecht von Weech as show acts.
Saturday, 4 February, 8 pm
Sunday, February 19: Kinderball der Damischen Ritter
Friday, February 17: Faschingsball at Augustinerkeller, admission 16 euros
Friday, February 10, 7 pm: Filser Ball – Die Filser auf der Reeperbahn, Info & Tickets
Tuesday, February 21 (Shrove Tuesday): Dance of the Market Women, admission free
Sunday, February 12: Carnival procession of the Damische Ritter (exact route to be announced)
Sunday, February 19 to Tuesday, February 21: München Narrisch, admission free
Thursday, February 16: Narrhalla Schlagerfasching, Info & Tickets
Tuesday, February 21: Wirtshausfasching with Bayern Hans Kehraus, admission free
Sunday, February 12: Damische Ritter parade after-party
Saturday, 28 January: Eiche alaaf! Hotel Ball 2023, admission free, information
While other countries and cities celebrate carnival, the people of Munich have what they call Fasching.
The word Fasching itself developed from the Middle High German vaschanc or Fastnacht, i.e. the night before fasting begins, when everyone has one more chance to let loose and engage in high-spirited partying. Being of Bavarian and Austrian origin, the term Fasching is only used in southern Germany. The Munich Fasching probably originated from the war dances and knights’ games of the Middle Ages, with the first documentary evidence dating back to the 15th century. Over the years, carnival activities became increasingly mixed with local customs.
Up until his death, Künstlerfürst (“Prince of Artists”) Franz von Lenbach (1836 – 1904), whose villa today houses Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (art gallery) with its Blauer Reiter collection, was president of the association Allotria, which organised Fasching processions of historic proportions.
The Munich Fasching saw its heyday in the late 19th century, when artists’ and studio festivals, parades and jesters’ balls were co-sponsored by leading artists of the time. The epicentre was Schwabing’s bohemian scene with its artists, writers and free spirits who had settled in the vicinity of the newly built Akademie der Bildenden Künste (Academy of Fine Arts) that opened in 1886.
Up until his death, Künstlerfürst (“Prince of Artists”) Franz von Lenbach (1836 – 1904), whose villa today houses Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus with its Blauer Reiter collection, was president of the association Allotria, which organised Fasching processions of historic proportions. Renowned artists such as August Kaulbach designed costumes and sets. The Fasching festivities of these wild years were captured in the works of humourists such as Wilhelm Busch and Karl Valentin and by painters such as Carl Spitzweg and Pieter Breughel.
1893 saw the founding of the first ever Fasching society, Narrhalla, marking the birth of Munich’s very own carnival tradition. In addition to a procession, the society started out by mainly organising charity festivals in support of the poor population. The idea was to recreate some of the flair of the Cologne carnival in the city on the Isar river. The coronation of the new prince and princess continues to take place every year: they are the official Gaudimonarchen (“monarchs of fun”) of the City of Munich and receive the golden key of the city from the Mayor at the beginning of the carnival season.
1893 saw the founding of the first ever Fasching society, Narrhalla, marking the birth of Munich’s very own carnival tradition.
Helping social causes is still something Narrhalla is deeply committed to: three quarters of all performances and visits take place at social institutions such as homes for the elderly and care facilities, with the aim of bringing joy to those who are unable to take part in the colourful Fasching festivities themselves.
When carnival is laid to rest with a humorous speech at the stroke of midnight on Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. But even on Ash Wednesday, not everything is over in Munich. This is the day when the people of Munich take their wallets – which are empty from Fasching – and wash them in the Fischbrunnen fountain on Marienplatz. The Mayor also joins in his tradition, symbolically dipping his municipal purse into the fountain – which supposedly helps fill the coffers with fresh money. This is directly followed by a fish dinner: it is in this way that many traditional Munich restaurants mark the beginning of Lent, which certainly has its attractions, too. After all, no sooner is carnival over than the strong beer season is upon us in Munich.