What is a Lumpenball? The End of the Karneval Party!

While adding events to the Fasching Celebration pages and the German Girl in America Events Pages, I keep coming across something called a Lumpenball… but, What IS a Lumpenball?? A ball of lumps? (that can’t be right!… although one website had an article about painting a ball of rags…). A Lumpenball that final Karneval party. The clearing out celebrations. This is your last chance to wear those fancy, but probably a bit tattered and worn costumes.

So, let’s end Karneval by taking out the garbage… time for a Lumpenball.

Photos courtesy of Dale Blank

What is a Lumpenball?

In German, Lumpen is translated as “rags” or “Ragamuffin”…. and a Ball is a Ball (think Cinderella and dancing). A Lumpenball can be thought of as a Ragamuffin ball or a Hobo ball. The idea is, to hold these balls AFTER Fasching, because you spent all your money on costumes, drinking and partying… so all you have left is just enough cash to dress like a bum. Or in some cases… just your worn out and torn costume.

Decorations tend to be modest… or downright tacky…. balloons and toilet paper streamers are loads of fun.

Another fun twist to the Tradition…. at a regular Karneval / Fasching Ball, the Karneval Prinz and Prinzessin will throw flowers and  candy to the crowd. At the Lumpenball… the outgoing Prinz and Prinzessin throw weeds and Peanuts….


Check out the photos from the Lumpenball in 1993 sent to me from the Spielmanzug Milwaukee. Prinz Dale is wheeled into the room in his wheelbarrow (decorated with a crimson sleeping bag), wine skin on his hip.

what is a lumpenball

Prinz Dale being wheeled into the room on his chariot.

History of the Lumpenball

Turns out the Lumpenball tradition is quite common during the Karneval Fasching Season. The first Lumpenball (also written Lumpeball in the Rhine-Necker region) was hosted by Karl Schewnder in 1872 at the Colosseum at Braunhirschengrun in the Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus district. Despite being a way out of town, and off the beaten path for polite society, it became quite popular. Herr Schwender even organized a shuttle service to bring his posh guests to the Ball. (And many people showed up to see the spectacle).

Today, the Lumpenball/Ragball is not to be missed!

Lumpen-Ball Schwender's Colosseum 1892 small
Pictures of “Die 19 Bezirkslumpen von Wien”: Hans Schließmann (1852-1920), Text unknown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


What to Wear to a Lumpenball

what is a Lumpenball

Everyone in their finest Klamotten

Making a costume for the Lumpenball is EASY! and does not have to cost much money at all. You can, for starters, simply wear the costume you’ve worn all along (only, worn out with a few tears…).

But, since any disguise works, go ahead and wear worn old clothes… the more “ruined” the better. This is not the time to pull on a designer look!

Ruined and patched jeans, frayed hats, laddered stockings and torn shirts are perfect. Or just wear a silly outfit.


what is a lumpenball

One thought on “What is a Lumpenball? The End of the Karneval Party!

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