Mainz will always be Mainz, full of singing and fun!


When you are in Mainz early in the morning and you hear the sound of drums and the brass and woodwind players tuning their instruments, and the figures on the Carnival Fountain are being polished to a high gleam, it can mean only one thing, it is time for the ‘Meenzer Fassenacht’ to begin. As the day progresses, the streets begin to fill with brightly-coloured revellers and the real fun begins when the cheerful tones of the Narrhallamarsch can be heard ringing out through the streets of the old town.

What began as a mockery of the military and authorities more than 180 years ago is now one of the biggest events in the whole of the Rhineland region, although there is some disagreement on a wider scale as to whether what is known as the fifth season should be called Fastnacht, Karneval or Fasching. But for the people of the regional capital, it is clearly and irrevocably Fassenacht, a loud ‘Helau’ which marks the perfect excuse for overindulgence, tomfoolery and shenanigans before the fasting period begins.

Colourful carnival in the Rhineland – Jesters and Fassenacht in Mainz

The best way to prepare for carnival in Mainz with all its folklore and its many faces is to have a real ‘Meenz’ old hand explain how all the crazy goings-on work: where do the colours of the guards come from, what are the larger-than-life papier mâché ‘Schwellköpp’ heads about and where do you get the best views of the procession? These are just some of the questions answered during the interesting carnival-themed guided tours through the city led by local old-timers.

Although the tours are only available in the weeks leading up to Shrove Monday, the Mainz Fastnachtsmuseum is open all year round. This entertaining museum tells the story of Fassenacht, from its roots in 1837 to today, based on lots of different exhibits and photos bursting with local colour. If you pay close attention, by the end you might be able to pass for a real Mainz reveller instead of a carnival newbie!

Carnival tour through Mainz with Cornelia Bärsch-Kämmerer, Rhine-Hesse

Fascinating carnival tour through Mainz with Cornelia Bärsch-Kämmerer, Rhine-Hesse

Meetings and carnival processions in districts of Mainz

By this point, you will definitely be prepared for the events to come: as is typical for all the major Fastnacht and carnival centres of the Rhineland, there are also colourful processions through the districts of Mainz throughout the carnival period. Of course, the real highlight of the carnival is the Shrove Monday procession, which starts wending its way through the streets promptly at 11:11 with nearly 9,500 people taking part, some on foot, with street performers and decorated floats covering more than seven kilometres from the Mainz new town to the cathedral in around four hours.

As well as the daft goings-on on the streets, the Mainz great hall Fastnacht in the weeks before Shrove Monday sees numerous meetings of the various clubs and guards, some of which you can even attend as a visitor.

Carnival with the "Schwellköpp" in Mainz, Rhine-Hesse

The people of Mainz celebrate the "Meenzer Fassenacht" with the "Schwellköpp", Rhine-Hesse

However, the most exclusive event takes place every year on the Friday before Shrove Monday: the famous ‘Mainz bleibt Mainz, wie es singt und lacht’ [Mainz will always be Mainz, watch it sing and laugh] event at the Electoral Palace featuring some well-known celebrities. The numerous authority figures at the event get their just desserts, as the carnival speeches at the ‘Meenzer Fassenacht’ are just as political now as they ever were.

So get stuck into the shenanigans and let the ‘Mainz, Helau’ ring out for the carnival!

More excursion tips all about carnival:


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