The anticipation was thick in the air when we arrived mid-morning for our very first peek deep into Germany’s Black Forest where Carnival comes alive! Not the Carnival you may be thinking of with drunkenness and bead throwing like in New Orleans, but a traditional type that has been going for centuries in the forests of Germany. This carnival deep in the Black Forest is a colorful celebration of fun and tradition for the families of the region. But tourists can come too and join in the fun. However, since this is quite an unusual outing, I will make you a guide to celebrating Carnival in Schramberg, Germany.
Getting to Schramberg
Arrival: Most likely, you will come by way of Stuttgart the major city in the area and only about an hour drive southeast from there.
Getting there: Take the Autobahn 81 south, then follow Highway B462 West past Dunningen and Sulgen to Schramberg. The group that I was with had to be in our meeting spot by noon sharp, which was on the parade route in the downtown area. Remember, this is the land of the original cuckoo clock makers. Everything here works to the precision of a clock. I had gotten up early that morning and walked the streets of downtown Schramberg, where there was barely a peep of sound or people on the streets (except these cuties at their Mom’s shop).
The Excitement is Building
But now I could see the hustle and bustle of Carnival getting ready to begin. It seemed there was an excitement in the air as the costumed community begin to arrive. Over time, the carless, downtown streets begin to fill up, first with just a few creatures. But before you know it, the streets are so crowded that you have to stand your ground to keep that coveted spot along the carnival parade path.
Characters of the Black Forest Arrive
One by one the characters of the Black Forest come down from the mountains to the village for all to see. Each character is an elaborately carved, wooden mask of a wild animal, devil or a witch. Actually, there are quite a few different characters from the forest:
Whose mask is a friendly, smiling face. He wears bells on his costume and carries a sword full of pretzels to those who can say a childhood verse or rhyme that you will hear shouted throughout the day.
An imposing figure whose mask has two cornucopias with a bell at the end, much like a jester. He wears a belt of bells, and carries a basket filled with candy and a book. You will hear him coming!
A sad-looking character expressing poverty I was told, his mask has large tears running down it and he carries an umbrella and handkerchief to wipe his tears.
He is modeled after rafters who pilot their craft down the river, with his black pointed cap and barrel around his waist.
Who is dressed in a uniform and carries a large bell to announce bulletins.
This was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, seeing these costumes come alive, each one with its traditional sounds, movements and dance. Unlike in other regions that practice Carnival, many of these costumes are passed down from generation to generation.
Know when to go …
The big days in Schramberg are Sunday, for the Hanselsprung (2:30 pm) and Monday for the Katzenmusiken (10 am), the Bach-Na-Fahrer parade (11 am), the Da-Bach-Na-Fahrt (1 pm) and the big parade at 2:30 pm. Check the internet for the actual days in February when they will have it.
Oh, but there is more: the Da-Bach-Na-Fahrt, which a “wild on the water” Carnival raft race is coming up next!
To read more about Germany’s Black Forest:
#JoinGermanTradition: Carnival Craze in Rottweil & Schramberg
Disclosure: My trip to Schramberg was a sponsored trip by the German National Tourism Board, however, the giggles, laughs and fun I had was all my own doing (with the help of the Fools, of course!).