If there’s something to celebrate in Munich, there’s bound to be a parade. Despite being the heart of traditional south Germany, the city is ready for any excuse to shut the streets, throw on a costume, and celebrate. From parade standards like gay pride and St Patrick’s day right the way through to ghoulish Krampus masks ready to scare naughty children, here are the parades you’ll want front row seats for!
Everyone out into the streets – there’s a wedding to celebrate! This particular wedding actually happened over 500 years ago when Duke Georg of Bavaria-Landshut married a Polish princess and a local landlord footed the bill for the celebrations. Now, Lanshuter citizens continue to mark the occasion every four years with elaborate medieval costumes, ye olde entertainment, and plenty of food waiting in the meadows at the end of the parade. If someone in the parade yells ‘Himmellandshut!’, shout ‘Thousand Landshut!’ back to fit in.
When most people think of Christmas in Munich, they think of gently twinkling lights at a frosty Christmas market. Rather than a winter wonderland, the Krampus looks like something out of a nightmare. Think demon goat meets Disney beast. The heavily sculpted wooden masks have two giant horns, and the wearer also has a shaggy, almost fur-like coat. Part of the Christmas legend in Germany is that Krampus is the counterpart to good old St Nick and is supposed to scare children into being nice! For the parade, these devilish creatures chase people through the street — no small feat given that the masks can weigh up to 10 kilograms (22 pounds).
If you ever wondered how many fire engines Munich has, then this parade will have the answer. Popular with young families, it’s the largest parade of emergency vehicles in the world! As well as the current vehicles, there’s also a parade and exhibition of historic emergency vehicles (yet another excuse to get out the traditional costumes). It’s surprisingly popular: crowds line the streets and wave, giving it a festive atmosphere.
Christopher Street Day is Munich’s elaborate gay pride parade. The colourful parade features everything from party floats to inflatable unicorns, even 10 drag queens riding a specially adapted tandem! Since 2012, the parade has turned into a whole week of celebrations with parties taking place at clubs and bars around the city. This year’s parade will take place on July 15 and has the motto ‘Diversity deserves respect’ to show support for refugees in Germany.
Green face paint, Guinness costumes, and plenty of Irish dancers – the Munich St Patrick’s Day parade is much like its counterparts in other cities across the world. It’s not a super polished affair, with a fair number of homespun costumes as well as people who seem to have just wandered in and joined the parade. ‘Irish’ is also loosely interpreted; a few other countries and expat are societies represented, and expect bagpipes, too. The parade consists of a 4-hour-program on a big outdoor-stage with music and dance.
As the city starts to emerge from the bleak winter weather, it’s time for Fasching, Munich’s answer to Carnival. The festival technically lasts from early January to Shrove Tuesday, which is the peak of the celebrations: bars are packed, bands play in Marienplatz and people are dance-on-the-bar drunk by 6pm. The whole pedestrian area from Stachus to Viktualienmarkt turns into a celebratory mile, with a small carnival parade organised by the city’s appointed ‘crazy knights’ to kick things off.