Feathers and Fasching Frolics

It is said there are five seasons in Germany‘s westernmost city, the spa resort of Aachen – Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Karneval – often referred to in this neck of the woods as Fastelovend (the eve before fasting) or Fasching. The official ‘season’ begins in November but things don’t really start to get going until the weekend after Twelfth Night. Of course, I had forgotten all about that as I wandered the cobbled streets of Aachen in early January, gazing obliviously at suspiciously ornate shop windows.

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

I didn’t even make the connection when I passed shop mannequins sporting truly heinous crimes against fashion.

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

It took great flocks of uniform-clad people…

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…and startling feathers…

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…to remind me that Fasching was well and truly underway in Aachen. So I followed the marching bands…

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

…to the Aula Carolina hall in Pontstraẞe and watched an almighty big band showdown.

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

aachen, fasching, karneval, fastelovend, germany, travel, travelogue, carnival, ailsa prideaux-mooney

In between the band performances there was a complicated affair of parodying local public figures and events, but even if you didn’t quite catch all the references, there was plenty of good food and even better beer so you laughed along with everyone else anyway.

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About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - wheresmybackpack.com - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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10 Responses to Feathers and Fasching Frolics

  1. Alice says:

    Lovely pictures Ailsa! Indeed Carrnival officially starts November 1tth before the now non-existing lent before Christmas and then for the lapsed Carnival person last Thursday where the women take over the local governments. Fasching it is called in Bavaria. South-west Germany has the winter drive-out very old Aleman Karnival. In the Rhineland its purpose was to let it rip before lent and also to take the mickey out of the French military who were occupying the Rhineland for a long time – hence the uniforms. On Sunday the big parades start, I will try to get you some pics. Wish you were here, you’d have a blast. Alice xx

    • ailsapm says:

      I wish I were there too, Alice. Are you going to the parades in Aachen? I’d love to see your pics if you manage to get any. I can’t believe the attacks in Cologne the other day, there are some Grade A monsters out there. 😦

  2. Alice says:

    Just rememebered this lingual beauty: The Aachen dialect is a like a completely different language with a lot of French expressions. Say “Stop that rubbish” in Aachen, you might say “Hür op met de Fissematentchen.” Which derives from the fact that French soldiers liked to lure the girls in Aachen to their tents “Visite ma tente” and the girls went: No vistematentes stuff here. xxx

    • ailsapm says:

      Oh my god, that’s priceless, Alice, laughing my ass off right now. I just adore Öcher Platt, but I’d never heard that one before. Haha. 🙂

      • That is so funny – I would have never known what that sentence means. I grew up in SW Germany and fondly remember Fasching. However, once I was introduced to the Trinidad Carnival, I was done for. Warmth, color, and dancing in the streets all night – just can’t do it in good ole Germany in February!

  3. Colline says:

    Such vibrant photos.

  4. Fantastic photo gallery, Ailsa! Such a colourful affair. 🙂

  5. I remember stumbling across a Fasching costume at the dry cleaners in the first weeks we lived in Germany and wondering what kind of town we had moved to!
    That first year, my kids were the only ones who showed up in kindergarten without costumes – something they did not soon let me forget. It was a festival I was completely unaware of before I was in the middle of it, and by the end of it I was hooked. I love the fifth season, thanks for sharing your Aachen experience 😊

  6. cjx07ster says:

    Mm… Something about dressing up and drinking beer in south west Germany . I like the whole idea. Appreciate your post on this 🙂

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