What is Karneval der Kulturen?

The Karneval der Kulturen is a joyful statement for an open and intercultural society. For more than 20 years, it has reflected the diversity of Berlin like no other event. People from very different backgrounds and cultural contexts come together to creatively bring their passions, ideas and desires to the streets and share them with an open-minded audience, with no admission costs. The daily creative and integrative work of the participating groups becomes visible to the public on the Pentecost holiday weekend.

During the big street parade on Pentecost, about 4,000 carnival performers capture the public space every year and show the cultural richness of our city, the variety of artistic expressions and creative handling of political and social relevant topics. The parade offers space for Berlin’s communities that want to show their cultural roots or want to lead them into a new era. People of all ages and cultural backgrounds from every neighbourhood in Berlin have the opportunity to make their concerns visible to the public. The motives and impulses of the participants are as diverse as our city.

At the four-day street festival, bands from Berlin find a big stage and enthusiastic listeners. With free admission, the ears and legs of the visitors go on a musical world tour. From Anatolian jazz to Afrobeat, Japanese fusion rock, mestizo music and Balkan beats - our stages show the unlimited range of Berlin's musical landscape! In the area “Shanti Town” of the street festival, committed associations and companies stand for respectful treatment of the environment, as well as traders who sell food from their ecologically sustainable businesses or the Berlin 'Food Truck' movement. At the heart of the festival, the "Rasen in Aktion" is a colourful oasis with participatory events for people of all ages. There is room for imaginative design, juggling, dancing or simply taking a deep breath. A wide range of culinary delights and arts and crafts from Berlin and around the world complete the street festival.

The history of the Karneval der Kulturen

When the Karneval der Kulturen first took to the streets of Kreuzberg in 1996, it saw itself as a response to the xenophobic riots in Rostock-Lichtenhagen that had set a new precedent for racist attacks at the time.  A quarter of a century later, Europe is erecting new border fences, while the mood in the country shows very different faces, ranging from a committed welcoming culture to open violence against people of a foreign culture. Back then and still today, Berlin’s communities of  different cultural backgrounds form the core of the Carnival. The groups use the Carnival and the public space to show themselves as a clear and visible part of our society and this is how the Karneval der Kulturen contributes to the empowerment for those who are culturally active and help with integration throughout the year. Whether it's a deep connection to one's own roots, the fight for an intact environment, the captivating sound one musical style or a clear political statement - poetic or brute, fine or loud, refined or right in the face - at Carnival, everyone can be what they want to be.

The Karneval der Kulturen is a symbol of a free and pluralistic society.