Every year in July everyone in Ulm is excited about the Schwörwoche, or The Week of the Oath: a colorful event where the entire city is present.
This week of festival, which takes place in late July, reaches its climax during the “Monday of the Oath” when the mayor, according to a tradition dating back in 1397, pronounced the official formula in front of the town population, promising “to be a companion to the rich and the poor all the same, in all common and straightforward things.” After the solemn Oath phase, a parade follows in the afternoon. It is the parade of the carnival character, “Nabada”, Swabian word which means roughly “swim along the flow of the current”. The Ulm people walk jubilant along the banks of the Danube, gathering in particular in the area of the Park Friedrichsau. Groups of people begin to pull out on boats they have taken care to build in the preceding months. On each of these vessels, that host noisy parties, an event of city life from the previous year, which is praised or insulted by people is portrayed with humor.
The people on the shore cheer the parade boats, choosing the most beautiful, original and sarcastic one, which will then be rewarded. To contribute to the general merriment, boats carry orchestras and bands and an endless swarm of inflatable boats, fins, kayaks and swimmers. The parade on the water closes with the "ship of the ordinary", an old ship model, which hosts the leading men of the city ahead with the mayor, whose main job is to make signs and greetings to the people on the banks of the Danube. The party goes from kiosks and small restaurants on the lawns of Friedrichsau and throughout the city until late at night.
On the Monday of the Oath, other traditional festivals take place, such as the "play-off between fishermen" (a race on the Danube), the "Bindertanz" (harvest dance) and the Concert of the Oath at the Cathedral. Worth mentioning is also the festival of lights (Lichterserenade), held two days earlier. By nightfall about 45,000 candles lit, red and yellow, are perched on the waters of the Danube. At first, they move slowly then dragged by the current towards the east, forming long snakes that seem to dance before ending up on the shores. Every four years, the program culminates with the famous festival of "Fischerstechen", a tournament on the water which has its roots in a custom from the fifteenth century.