Every year around Pentecost (the end of the Easter season), Berlin celebrates its multiculturalism with a Carnival of Cultures! During a four-day street party (from May 17 to 20 in 2013), there’s a lively procession full of costumes, music and dance, and about 4,000 participants perform for more than 750,000 visitors.
As an old saying goes, “Berlin is more a continent than a city.” In fact, 850,000 Berliners have an immigrant background today, around 180 nations that come together in this multifaceted city. The Carnival of Cultures focuses on this cultural richness. It aims to be a forum for dialogue and a platform for mutual respect and tolerance.
Here contrasts don’t clash, they seem to embrace. In the street procession, a traditional drum group of Chinese kids can be followed by Arabian belly dancers. People in frog costumes walk side by side with quirky characters in feather boas.
Started in 1996 mostly as a neighborhood party, the event has somehow managed to keep its improvisatory charm. Carnival is the traditional season during which to break out of the narrow confines of everyday life, to have fun in playful setting and to take pride in the celebration of one’s own identity. So don’t expect professional artists. It’s mostly Berlin locals having fun presenting their skills. All over the festival area, you will find locals offering drinks, snacks or their talents, but hardly any major companies.
Visiting the festival means getting to know Berlins diversity, its people and its unique local subcultures. Enjoy “normal” people getting creative! Try exotic food and homemade drinks, dance a traditional Turkish dance or just enjoy the scene over a hookah in the park.