Aleksandra blogs: My (crazy) first time at Aalborg Carnival

by Aleksandra Kopacz
Photo: Reymund Staniek
Photo: Reymund Staniek

You have probably already heard about Aalborg Karneval (Aalborg Carnival) – the most popular event happening in Northern Jutland, and the biggest carnival in the north of Europe.

When I came to Denmark my Danish friends were telling me a lot about it, but due to COVID-19 I never had a chance to experience it…

Until this year.

Finally, after two years of the pandemic, the tradition has returned! The main theme of Karneval 2022 was announced as “When I grow up…”, giving a really wide range of possibilities and a lot of space for creativity regarding costumes.

Aalborg Karneval consists of three parts: The International Parade, the Children’s Carnival, and ends with the cherry on top, the Grand Parade leading to Kildeparken.

For self-explanatory reasons I did not attend the Children’s Carnival (sad to say I am too old for it), but I am glad to recount all the rest.

Photo: Aleksandra Kopacz

The International Parade

The International Parade is something you cannot miss.

Artists from all around Europe are coming to Aalborg to take part in it! You can see performances all along the main streets in the city center. There are musicians, dance groups, and theatre groups – everyone dressed up in gorgeous costumes, spreading out positive energy.

The route of the parade goes from Kennedy’s square through the Boulevard towards Gabels Torv where the symbolic Cimbrian Bull is burned as the traditional sacrifice to the Karneval gods.

This year we could see fairies, Star Wars, giraffes, giant ants, butterflies, a camel, DINOSAURS, and many more, all of them walking or dancing to the rhythm of lively music, just steps away from the audience.

Watching them made me feel like a little kid taken into the magical world. Excitement, admiration, and joy stayed with me until the very end of the gig.

Photo: Rafael Zajac

Aalborg Carnival

One week after the International Parade, the main event of the Carnival takes place. Eagerly awaited by many, the Grand Parade is open to everyone willing to participate. All you have to do is dress up!

In my case, everything started with a preparty scheduled already at 7 in the morning (!!!). Yes, it does sound crazy, but this is a standard time here to begin the celebration.

Playing drinking games and spreading glitter on your friends is usually what attendees do in the morning that day. After a few hours of warm-up, every participant is ready to join the Grand Parade.

The walk starts at three different points of the city – Nørresundby, Vestbyen, and Østerport – and all end in Kildeparken.

I have never seen that many drunk people in my life! It was sheer MADNESS. Girls peeing in the middle of the street, people dancing on their balconies, someone splashing water with a water pistol, a random person talking something to you in Danish, your friend throwing up already at 10 am.

Aleksandra Kopacz and her boyfriend at the Karneval.

You look around and see nuns, Sims, Queen Margaret, Spiderman, fairies, angels, devils, zombies, aliens, princesses, football players, nurses, policemen, Britney Spears, and everything else that you can imagine. Everyone completely drunk, heading to the park and pushing their baby strollers containing spirits of various kinds (most likely with a predominance of beloved Danish beers).

What happens next in the park then? The concerts!

If you had bought a loyalty bracelet before, you are free to go in and enjoy the live music. In case you forgot to do that or maybe changed your mind and you want to go in after all, don’t worry!

There is an opportunity to buy a ticket by the door. It’s more expensive on the day of the carnival, but at this point no one cares.

This year, the queue by the entrance was extremely long because a lot of participants of the Parade spontaneously decided to come and see the music shows.

When and how does the Karneval end? It’s hard to say. That aspect depends totally on you.

If you want to go to Jomfru Ane Gade and continue the party afterwards there’s nothing weird about that. Quite the opposite – it’s a popular alternative to spend the evening and have fun even longer. No one is going to judge you, I promise!

Aalborg Karneval is something you need to experience – just make sure that you will remember it the following day!

When I joined the Grand Parade this year I was not prepared for all that craziness. I knew what the Karneval was about, but not to that extent. For all that, I must say, IT’S A LOT OF FUN!

After all, what’s wrong with being crazy once in a while?

Are you planning to join the Aalborg Carnival next year?

If the answer is yes, here’s a few tips for you:

  1. Eat a decent breakfast before
  2. Wear shoes that you are not afraid to destroy
  3. Remember to drink water between your drinks (especially when you start drinking at the early hour)

And most importantly:

  1. Don’t get lost. It’s very easy to lose sight of your friends in the crowd, so better play it safe (trust me). To track your companions you can download the official Aalborg Karneval app.

You can find all the information about the Aalborg Karneval 2023 on the official website and the official Facebook event.

See you next year!