Aalborg Carnival

Posted on 1 November 2011

A Mardi Gras-like atmosphere happens in Aalborg, Denmark on the fourth Saturday of May yearly since 1983. The Aalborg Carnival is Scandinavia’s largest Spring Celebration Festival with more than 100,000 people from all over Scandinavia and the rest of the world coming together to enjoy dancing in the streets of Aalborg. What is unique with this festival is that everyone can just don on their costumes and join the Grand Parade.

In 1982, four natives put their heads together and envisioned, planned and actually executed the first Aalborg Carnival a year later. More than 10,000 joined the very first parade and from then on the number multiplied as the popularity of the event magnified. Today the Aalborg Carnival is a weeklong celebration with three main carnival events - the Grand Parade, Battle of the Carnival Bands and the Children’s Carnival. In the week-long celebrations participants both non-pro and professional groups and children of all ages don their themed-costumes and dance their way in the parade.

Battle of Carnival - Poco Loco
Photo by Aalborg Carnival - Photographers, Flickr

The Children’s Carnival or Børnekarneval is held in the week leading to the Grand Parade which is always held on a Saturday. Children take centre stage as they dance and enjoy the parade with their parents. They dance and walk through the city streets of Aalborg with the parade culminating with entertainment and games at the Kildeparken or Kilde Park. No one is exempted from this parade. Every child can join the fun.

On the Friday of carnival week, the Battle of the Carnival Band takes place. Professional carnival groups from Europe and the rest of the world troop to Aalborg to compete in the yearly competition. A panel of judges grade the participants based on their costumes and group performance. The selected group earns the title of Best Carnival Group.

Battle of Carnival - Aquerela de Paris
Photo by Aalborg Carnival - Photographers, Flickr

The main event is on Saturday. The Grand Parade is open for everyone. The Parade is divided into 4 groups that start off from different streets in Aalborg and proceeds in a star formation to the city harbour. The King of the Carnival takes the lead in this parade of “carnivalists” and international carnival groups as they continue as one into Kildeparken. The Grand Parade is the highlight of the week-long activity. At the park, four stages are set up to provide a variety of entertainment from the locals and international groups. The winner of the Battle of the Carnival Bands is also announced at this event.

Battle of Carnival - Mandinga Arts
Photo by Aalborg Carnival - Photographers, Flickr

Though you can wear basically anything you want in joining the Grand Parade, note that each year, a theme is provided as a guideline. This year, 2011, the theme is Sexzoological Zoo which was interpreted in a variety of ways. In 2010, the theme was Mars and Venus while 2009’s theme was La Dolce Vita.

If you are gearing up for Aalborg Carnival in 2012, start preparing your costume as the theme is “The World Upside Down”. Accommodations are slowly being filled right now. If you are touring Aalborg in a campervan the campsites in and around Aalborg are great places to stay as carnival ambiance is evident there too.

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