I've been to Germany in the Spring and in the Fall...but now am considering going for Karneval which falls in the middle of February in 2015. Has anyone ever been there at that time? My former exchange student from Germany became a father in Sept. therefore making me an Oma. My German "daughter-in-law" has suggested that they take me to Karneval since we don't celebrate that in Ohio. Any thoughts? Oh, I'd go to Essen which makes it easy to go to Dusseldorf, Cologne, and Aachen.
It's celebrated as I am aware all over Central Europe (maybe in all Europe), the most famous is Karneval in Rio de Janeiro. In the USA it is Mardi Grass in New Orleans. It is called masopust in Bohemia, fasank (pronounced fashank) in Moravia and somewhat similar in Austria and Germany.
Fasching is particularly big in Köln, although I've never attended the celebration there.
The observance in Germany is quite family friendly (at least until later in the evening). It's more about music, jokes and overall silliness than... well, let's just say the practice of "bead exchanges" that you sometimes see in the US really doesn't exist here.
I was expecting all that you said about Karneval....i was wondering what people think about spending the time and money to go there in February. Will the celebrations be worth the trip?
Watch some Youtube films of the Fasching / Fastnacht parades in Cologne, Mainz, or Frankfurt, as those are the 3 largest ones. Smaller towns like Seligenstadt, have parades too.
Would I come over here just for this? No. It just isn't worth it to me and unless you speak German, all of the political commentary at the "Sitzungen" and on the floats, will be meaningless. The weather can often be nasty, blustery and cold. Can't think of a worse time to be here, unless you want to spend more time going to museums while here. There is a lot of drinking, especially in Cologne, which made my visit there during Fasching to be less than fun. I like and enjoy Cologne a lot, but not during Fasching.
There's a few separate types of celebrations (probably more). Jo referenced the indoor parties that various cities hold and are usually broadcast live on TV. It's almost like dinner theater, except much sillier and the audience also dresses up. They feature a lot of music, dancing and stand-up comedy. And of course, food and drink. One of these might be worth while to attend, but only if you attend with a native German speaker to explain it to you. Unless you speak the language, the long periods of stand-up will probably bore you. When I've seen it on TV, I don't always understand the jokes, but I enjoy the music.
There's also various street parties and bars and clubs often host parties. If you're into this sort of thing (walking around in costume from bar to bar), than it might be worth it. If this isn't your thing... don't waste your time.
Personally, I prefer the Alps in February.