People in carnival costumes on an outdoor stage in driving snow.

Fasching in Munich 2024

Munich likes it crazy

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.

 

Open-air carnival in the centre of Munich

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 2024, the colourful street festivities are scheduled to take place from February 11 to 13, 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 13, followed by a carnival gathering on Viktualienmarkt (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!

 

Carnival parade Munich 2024: Sunday, February 4

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 4. 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, selected 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. 

Fasching balls in Munich's festival halls

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 Augustiner-Keller. 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 salsa party at Pasión de Baile to the family-friendly Pumuckl-Ball. 

The best addresses and dates for Fasching in Munich

 

Deutsches Theater

Friday, January 19: Oide Wiesn Bürgerball
Saturday, January 20: Großer Narrhalla Ball
Sunday, January 21: Pasión de Baile 
Friday, January 26: Ball der Sterne
Saturday, January 27: Münchner Tanznacht
Friday, February 2: Gaudeamus Ball
Saturday, February 3: Ball der Nationen
Sunday, February 4: Kinderfasching
Friday, February 9: ball total
Saturday, February 10: Rock That Swing Ball
Sunday, February 11: Jamboree Ball 
Monday, February 12 (Carnival Monday): 089 Kult     

 www.deutsches-theater.de

Hotel Bayerischer Hof

Sunday, January 28: Pumuckl und der Faschingsprinz     
Saturday, February 3: Magnolienball
Sunday, February 4: Monika's Zirkuskinder
Monday, February 12 (Carnival Monday): Traditional Medizinerball

 

Künstlerhaus

On Saturday, 3 February 2024, the Künstlerhaus will bring the 80s back to life at its legendary Gauklerball and transform the whole house into an 80s dancefloor. Dance the night away to the live sound of Buck Roger and the Sidetrackers and DJ Booby Evs and experience a modern dance medley by the Iwanson International School of Contemporary Dance and a Michael Jackson show.

www.kuenstlerhaus-muc.de

 

Augustiner-Keller

Friday, February 9: Faschingsball at Augustiner-Keller, admission 16 euros

Viktualienmarkt

Thursday, February 8: "Carnival has a warm heart", admission free

Tuesday, February 13 (Shrove Tuesday): Dance of the Market Women, admission free

www.muenchen.de

 

Pedestrian zone in the city centre

Sunday, February 4: Carnival procession of the Damische Ritter (exact route to be announced)
Sunday, February 11 to Tuesday, February 13: München Narrisch, admission free

Isarpost

Friday, January 26: All in White Carnival Party

 

Hotel Deutsche Eiche

Saturday,  January 27: Barbie meets Deutsche Eiche. House Ball 2024, admission free

 

Hackerhaus

Thursday, February 8: Narrhalla-Schlagerfasching

 

Ratskeller am Marienplatz

Donnerstag, February 8, Ü-30 Faschingsparty

Bayerisches Nationalmuseum

Friday, February 9, Carnival ball at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum

 

Helene Disco

Saturday, February 10, Carnival at the Helene Disco

 

Milchbar

Monday, February 12, Blue Rosen Monday at the nightclub Milchbar

 

Substanz

Monday, February 12, 90's Dampfer at the nightclub Substanz

 

Rote Sonne

Tuesday, February 13, Faschingsball at the nightclub Rote Sonne

A brief history of Fasching in Munich

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.

Narrhala – the first ever Fasching society

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.

It's not all over on Ash Wednesday

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.

 

 

Text: München Tourismus; Photos: Werner Böhm, Christl Reiter, Birgit Widmann, Stadtarchiv München
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