City bracing itself for another bout of Carnival fever

Shakespeare once observed that “all the world’s a stage,” and that is exactly what the Copenhagen Carnival hopes to impart when its celebrations hit the streets this Whitsun holiday weekend. While this year’s affair will only last one day due to funding problems, it still promises to be a whole lot of in-your-face fun − a celebration of springtime, sunshine and samba.

The organisation of the giant street party has always been beset with problems, from incurred deficits to massive piles of broken bottles on the streets. In 1982, the first Copenhagen Carnival came with beautiful sunshine, and over 200,000 Copenhageners showed up for the festivities. But as it gained in popularity each year, the budget began to get stretched to a point where it became nonviable to run. On two occasions, ahead of the 1993 and 2013 festivals, the city of Copenhagen announced that it simply could not afford to fund it. In 1993, it did not go ahead, but last year a white knight rode to its rescue to ensure it will go ahead, albeit in a more limited capacity than last year.

With particular attention to music, dance and customs from Latin and South America, the Copenhagen Carnival is a cultural affair that has become increasingly international over its four decades of existence. It now features festivities from everywhere, creating greater awareness of the traditions found in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East. Since 2008, electronic music has also played a key part in the celebrations, opening the doors for an even greater appeal.

Events are scattered throughout the day, and you can come and go as you please. The Carnival Parade, perhaps the Copenhagen Carnival’s most well-known event, will follow a path from Strøget’s Gammeltorv to Kongens Nytorv, starting at 10:00 and ending at 15:00. Expect wonderfully colourful ensembles and loud music blaring in the sunshine.

For your youngsters, be sure to head down to DR’s Koncerthuset for the Children’s Carnival, now an integral part of the Copenhagen Carnival. Music, dancing, face-painting and games will keep your kids actively engaged, and children will be able to participate in many shows and parades specifically for the young − and the young at heart.

Another parade taking to the street will follow the Soca Truck, a travelling musical vehicle with DJs decked in palm fronds and leis, blaring festive rhythms from Den Røde Plads in Cph NV at 10:00 and ending up at DR Byen at 16:00.

Starting at noon, you can set up camp at the grounds near DR Byen for all-day festivities that last well into the night. If you think parades are only for daytime, think again: from 22:00 until midnight, more parades and dancing will take place outside the DR Koncerthuset, and starting at 23:00 until the wee hours of the morning, the crazy Carnival Nightparty will take place inside DR. At least four different parties will take place inside DR, including performances by Danish bands who tend to have a more international appeal.

You can listen to Donkey Sound Crew, a reggae and dancehall group that has gained a large following in recent years. They will be sharing the stage with musical guests Wafande, Kaka and Shaka Loveless. For a more urban sound, go and dance to Kinck, the Danish/Senegalese duo who have climbed their way up the Danish charts thanks to the DR music competition Karrierekanon. Looking for something a bit wilder? Silver Bullit have self-described their style as a mix between merengue, Afrobeat and a whole bunch of funk.

Injecting the city with more colour than it’s ever seen, the Copenhagen Carnival is one of the greatest ways to welcome the warm weather. Events during the day are free, but be sure to pick up your tickets for the party − you won’t want to miss it.

Copenhagen Carnival

DR Byen, Emil Holms Kanal 20, Cph S; Sat 18 May, 10:00-03:00; free adm, night party tickets: 100kr, www.billetlugen.dk; www.copenhagencarnival.com/english