By Craig Cheetham
The Karneval der Kulturen (English: Carnival of Cultures) is one of Berlin’s oldest and most colourful—literally—street festivals. Taking place over four days at the beginning of the party season as the weather begins to (finally) warm up, the KdK culminates in a massive street parade through the lively suburbs of Kreuzberg and Neukölln, showcasing professional and amateur music and dance groups in one the most diverse parades on the planet. The plan is open, with an emphasis on mixture, acceptance and tolerance. The KdK has been around for nearly twenty years and is a great example of the fluid mix of languages, music and dancing styles to which Berlin plays host.
The origins of the KdK date back to 1993, just a few short years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. By this time, Berlin was already becoming a mecca for young people from all over the world, and the “Workshop of Cultures”, sponsored by Berlin’s Senate, began a movement for the foreign residents of Berlin. The process quickly snowballed, with the organisation promoting the idea of a multiday cultural event open to the public. Since 1996 the KdK has been an annual Berlin institution, and the organisers stay true to their aims of promoting diversity, tolerance and environmental awareness in an ever-changing world. In 2014, the parade played host to more than 5000 performers from 82 different groups, and with an estimated 740,000 attendees joining the festivities. Needless to say, it is one of Berlin’s biggest events!
This year, the KdK was in danger with financial and organisational problems threatening to cancel the parade. Luckily—and with the help of a grassroots internet petition—a solution was found, and the KdK will indeed take place in 2015. However, Berlin is an ever-changing city with many interests, demands and political concerns, and the future of any street parade is never certain. As such, if you are in Berlin this year around the end of May (and especially on 24 May for the street parade), do yourself a favour and go experience one of Berlin’s unique street festivals!
When: 22 – 25 May (street parade on 24 May). The street parade and party begin at 12.30pm, ending at 9pm
Where: The parade begins at U Hermannplatz (on the dark blue U8 line and light blue U7 line), and finishes U Mehringdamm. The parade route goes through Neukölln and Kreuzberg, two of Berlin’s most colourful and diverse suburbs. All along this route will be thousands of people with many possibilities for food and drinks, and general revelry and mayhem.
The official website of the event is: http://www.karneval-berlin.de/en/