"Alemannic Fastnacht - Carnival of the South West" Land Baden-Württemberg by Kathrin_E

Land Baden-Württemberg Travel Guide: 6,832 reviews and 25,236 photos

This is a special page that focuses on the "Alemannic Fastnacht", the version of carnival taking place in the South West of Germany.

What is "Fastnacht"?

When talking about carnival in Germany, people think about the "big 3" on the Rhine - Köln, Düsseldorf and Mainz.

The Fastnacht in the South West (i. e. Black Forest, Schwaben, Bodensee), however, is much different from the silly and noisy carnival of the Rhine cities. Traditions are much older, in some towns masks and costumes have been the same for centuries. Fastnacht is the awakening of the dark powers - devils, ghosts, witches - before the beginning of the Lent, thus deeply connected to the catholic calendar (and not a remnant of pagan Germanic spring rituals, although people keep telling you that it is because they don't know that that interpretation derives from Nazi propaganda).

The Fastnacht guilds have one or a few figures that stay the same for years, decades, centuries. They don't change every year. Those costumes (called "Häs") and wood-carved masks are hand-made, precious and beautiful to look at. There are a couple of places that keep centuries-old traditions alive, the best known among them is Rottweil. On the other hand, Fastnacht, or in dialect "Fasnet", is a very lively, modern movement. New guilds are founded every year, new figures invented.

Where and when?

The dates of carnival change every year according to the Easter date, it's around the weekend 7 weeks before Easter. The High Days last from Thursday to Tuesday, but nowhere the big events and parades take place all six days long.
One has to know when to be where.

This Baden-Württemberg overview page is part of a larger structure that consists of several individual travel pages about towns and villages which are known for their particular Fastnacht activities. These individual pages will all be linked here.

Done so far:
European Jester Festival Bad Cannstatt 2009 on my Stuttgart page
Guggemusik Festival Schwäbisch Gmünd
Zell am Harmersbach
Burefasnet in Weil am Rhein
Singen am Hohentwiel
Haslach im Kinzigtal


Some General Hints about my Fastnacht Pages

This page is growing and will hopefully keep growing over the following years. There are so many different traditions and local particularities in Baden-Württemberg's Fastnacht that one life won't be enough to see them all. Work is in progress. The plan is big and will take some time to be fulfilled.

My pages are done to give you an impression of what is going on during the High Days (and already during the previous weeks) when whole towns and villages all of a sudden seem to go crazy for a strictly limited period of time. I am also trying to explain the background of those traditions.

'S goht dogege!


The structure of my Fastnacht overview page is this:

Things to do tips describe individual locations I have visited for the Fastnacht. They give a short summary of the activities and the timetable and contain a link to my travel page about said town or village. Please follow the link to find more details and more pictures.

Local customs tips present individual guilds and figures. I have seen most of these during jester meetings and similar, not necessarily in their home location. They show the varieties of Fastnacht and the imagination of the guilds in creating their Häser and figures.

General tips contain background information on Fastnacht traditions, their origins, general topics.

Before visiting your first ever Alemannic carnival parade, do read my survival tips in the Warnings and danger section of this page.


All photos were taken by myself and are copyrighted. Please do not use them without my permission.

In case people recognize themselves in one of my photos and do not want their picture on the internet, please notify me and I will of course remove it.

  • Last visit to Land Baden-Württemberg: Jan 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (48)

Comments (5)

  • JessH's Profile Photo
    May 25, 2011 at 4:53 AM

    Hallo Kathrin! Bei uns wirds schrecklich heiss & stickig und ich habe deshalb Heimweh! Tolle informative Seite hier! Ich arbeite zur Zeit an meinen Schottlandseiten in der Hoffnung, dass es mich abkuehlt, haha! Liebe Gruesse / Jess :-)

  • Maurizioago's Profile Photo
    Feb 16, 2009 at 8:02 AM

    Scherben? We have a similar thing here. The name is grostoli. Ciao!

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Feb 2, 2009 at 2:36 PM

    Parades are always fun -- nice white costumes, hehehe...I still have to put parade tips on my pages. Thanks for sharing, Norman :)

  • Herwig1961's Profile Photo
    Nov 23, 2008 at 12:54 PM

    Great ,interesting tips and descriptions!Wonderful fotos!Thanks for sharing!

  • mustertal's Profile Photo
    Jul 20, 2008 at 5:33 AM

    That's interesting , I think I have a Narrenzeichen from Staufen, in the Black Forest. They have what they call "Stages" in Sept/Oct.

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