Karneval der Kulturen is an annual, multicultural parade with various exotic floats. The parade, established in 1996, takes place at whitsun and is an explosive and vibrant mix of cultures (as the name would suggest). The official route is flanked by a small, 3 day fair at Hallesches Tor and many offsite parties that celebrate the occasion. It’s one of the most visited events of Berlin.
From huge Brazilian dancer communities to intrinsic Palestinian dance performances or gay fetish clubs: the floats and participants are definitely an eclectic mix.
There is a lot of music, some floats even sponsored by famous clubs in Berlin. There are many private and makeshift snack booths and cocktail bars lining the route of the parade.
But since 2014, the fate of the Karneval der Kulturen is unclear. There have been many discussions about the funding of the parade. Although implemented to advertise multiculturalism and tolerance, many people have raised doubts about its effect. It seems to many politicians and vocal citizens that the Karneval has become too commercialized and focuses too much on superficial exoticism rather than authenticity. Intrinsic costumes, music and performances, concerts and alcohol allegedly distract from its political and cultural core message.
Posing yet more financial challenges are the heightened security measures of the KdK, which has been modeled after famous Notting Hill Carnival in London. Twenty years ago, the route between Neukölln and Kreuzberg / Mehringdamm was ideal for a couple of thousand visitors. Today, Karneval der Kulturen is one of the largest street parades of Europe – and Kreuzberg unprepared for the millions of visitors.
For now, the Karneval is safe – despite the controversy. However, it remains to be seen if the traditional itinerary will stay the same.