The city of Aalborg is home to the largest carnival in Northern Europe – Aalborg Carnival. It takes place in the last week of May and it is a tremendously fun event. Arguably, it also makes May the best month of the year to visit Aalborg.
It is considered to be the second largest yearly cultural event in Denmark: Aalborg Carnival has been a steady (and popular) tradition since 1983. The event always attracts large crowds – often accompanied by some of Denmark’s most famous musicians performing there.
Facts about Aalborg Carnival
No event in Northern Denmark is as popular as Aalborg Carnival. Hundreds of thousands come every year to be a part of it – in some way or another.
Aalborg Carnival might take place in Aalborg, but people from all of Denmark are attending. In recent years, the carnival has also been well frequented by foreigners.
2018 saw over 80,000 participants in the Star Parade, which is the final show of the week long carnival. However, aside from those 80,000, an additional 150,000 spectators showed up. Many of those had been a part of previous parades during the week. In 2019, there was once again a huge crowd, and the same is expected for the upcoming years.
The whole tradition started in 1983. While it has been a huge success every year, it is now bigger than ever – and also attracting more international attention than ever before.
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As mentioned in the introduction, Aalborg Carnival takes place in the final week of May every year. The most important parts of the carnival take place in Kildeparken – Aalborg’s main park. However, the parades and celebrations usually stretches out to most parts of central Aalborg. People of all ages are part of it. One parade is specifically for children. The main parades are for adults. Aalborg Carnival is particularly popular among university students.
It is free to show up and watch the parades around the city. However, to participate in the large afterparty in Kildeparken, you’ll need to buy a ticket, the so-called Carnival Bracelet. The final party is huge – it’s the biggest part of the year in Aalborg – and usually popular Danish musicians will come to perform. The regional buses and trains in the Northern Danish region are completely free to ride from Friday to Sunday of the Carnival week.
The International Parade
Part of the carnival is an international event – and it usually gets very competitive!
“The International Parade” is the name of a show where carnival groups from all around the world come to perform. Based on their parades through the city and their scene performance on the stage in Kildeparken, they will be rated against each other, and ultimately, one international group will win the title.
It’s a fun event, and it has become one of the major parts of the carnival. It’s a good example of how the carnival is very inclusive to foreigners, and how it isn’t only Danish culture you can come to experience.
New themes every year
Each year has its own theme. It makes every carnival special. The overall theme will set the mood of the carnival, while still leaving a lot to the imagination.
In 2019, the carnival theme was “the four seasons”. In 2018 it was “land, sea, air”. In 2017 it was more open: The carnival theme was “The world is full of …”
The themes leaves plenty of space to get creative. For groups, several costumes and ideas can be implemented to live up to the theme and to be among the best participants.
The best time to visit Aalborg
You can easily argue that the week of Aalborg Carnival is the best time to visit the city.
No other week of the year will be quite like it. And since it is the largest carnival in Northern Europe, it is one of the few major things that Aalborg has to offer to the international crowd.
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Aalborg is full of nice attractions and things to do, and a trip there will never be boring. But while the city is enjoyable throughout the year, the carnival is the absolute peak. If you intend to visit Aalborg, try to aim for the last week of May. It will be way more crowded, and it will be a bit more expensive – but it’s all worth it! We highly recommend you to experience the mood of the carnival in Aalborg!