8 Tricks to Make the Most of your Carnival in Cologne


Welcome to Europe’s finest celebration. I’m positive none of you’re strangers to the revelries of Carnival, to fancy gown parades, large floats and the insanity taking place earlier than Lent begins. Carnival may be dated again to Roman instances, and each metropolis, city and village in Europe celebrates its personal approach.

I’ve been touring Carnival celebrations for years now, and nowhere have I seen it celebrated with as a lot ardour and sentiment as in Cologne – regionally referred to as Kölner Karneval. The city is actually swept away in a sea of colours, music and dance for six days. Over 1,000,000 folks take the streets and locals received’t miss the celebration for something on this planet.

It’s the celebration to finish all events – and listed here are 7 ideas so that you can get pleasure from Carnival in Cologne at its finest.

See additionally: A Information to Visiting Cologne, Germany

Scenes from the Carnival in Cologne, Kölner Karneval
Scenes from the Carnival in Cologne, Kölner Karneval

1. Select when to go to

Carnival parades in Cologne occur over a course of 6 days, with day-after-day totally different celebrations. Festivities kick off on the Thursday earlier than Ash Wednesday with ‘Girls’s Carnival’, and conclude with the burning of the ‘Nubbel’, a straw determine, on Tuesday night time.

On Friday there are events and parades throughout city, and on Saturday night the ‘Ghost Parade’ takes place, the one parade the general public is allowed to affix. Sunday is Household Day, when teams of schoolchildren from throughout Cologne march across the metropolis with their floats. The largest parade is the one taking place on Rose Monday, with over 70 giant floats from Cologne’s official carnival teams.

The Rose Monday parade is unquestionably spectacular, with marching bands and teams of cheerleaders opening every float, however crowds may be overbearing. Sunday is one other nice day to go to because the ambiance is extra subdued.

2. Select the place to observe the parade

Being near the parade is a part of the enjoyable. You’ll get to understand the colourful floats and costumes, the music and festive ambiance, with folks screaming Kolle Alaaf – the carnival motto, that means Cologne above all – and throwing Kamelle (sweets) to bystanders. Be sure you convey some baggage alongside to take all of the Kamelle house with you!

With as much as 1,000,000 folks within the streets, selecting a great place to observe the parade generally is a problem. The world across the Dom is certainly scenic, however it’s additionally the place crowds are at their worst. We suggest avoiding the Dom and the Heumarkt space, and heading as a substitute to the backstreets simply off Neumarkt, or close to the start of the parade. Test this map for the small print of the carnival parade.

3. Decide a flowery gown

You merely can not go to carnival with out fancy gown. You’ll be able to convey your individual or lease/purchase one whenever you get to Cologne, and even simply seize a wig or a foolish hat from considered one of many stalls across the metropolis heart. In case you go for a full-blown fancy gown, keep in mind you’ll be in your ft for many of the day, so select one thing sensible – an 18th century Venetian-style gown will most likely be arduous to handle.

Additionally, don’t overlook that Carnival occurs in the course of winter so be ready for temperatures that may dip under zero – a Monsters Inc model jumpsuit or cavemen’s outfit ought to do the trick!

4. What to do at night time

The parades occur within the afternoon, and after they’re over the celebration continues at just about each single bar, restaurant and residential across the metropolis. Events in bars and restaurant often comply with the same format – copious quantities of Kolsch, Cologne’s very personal beer, streamers and confetti and Carnival music taking part in all night time lengthy. In case you communicate a little bit of German, don’t fear when you can’t make any head or tail of the songs – they’re all in Cologne dialect.

Bars across the metropolis heart are prone to be packed – head out of the town heart to a spot like Agnesquarter, Südstadt or Ehrenfeld for a extra manageable scenario.

5. What to eat and drink throughout Carnival

Would you like the brief reply? Eat road meals (assume currywurst, doner kebab, falafel and the like) and drink Kolsch, Cologne beer served in tiny glasses. There can be stalls serving beer all around the metropolis, or you’ll be able to choose up some bottles at a nook retailer.

In case you’re planning on partying the entire day and complete night time, be sure to eat breakfast as these Kolsch add up actually shortly and also you don’t wish to get too drunk too quickly!

See additionally: Conventional Beer and Meals in Cologne

6. Burn the Nubbel

On Carnival Tuesday, the Nubbel is ceremoniously set ablaze in Cologne. This straw effigy should take accountability for all wrongs dedicated throughout the carnival season.

Individuals congregate exterior quite a few pubs to absolve themselves of their previous transgressions- setting hearth to this figurine symbolically relinquishes them from any misdeeds they could have indulged in all through that interval, as per common superstition.

7. Attending to Cologne and round

Carnival is tremendous excessive season in Cologne, and flight costs are typically steep. We suggest taking the practice as a substitute (seek for tickets on Kayak) – the town is a really busy railway hub with a number of trains coming from each nook of Europe, so that they’re not prone to be bought out. Most German trains don’t require reservations – we travelled into Cologne from Copenhagen and out to Paris and didn’t must ebook our seats upfront.

To get round Cologne you need to use the wonderful public transport system, with trams and U-Bahn reaching each nook of the town. The carnival space is compact sufficient to be navigated on foot – it takes about 20 minutes to stroll from Neumarkt to Heumarkt, and an additional 15 to succeed in the Dom and Hauptbahnhof.

8. Is carnival in Cologne secure?

The ambiance of Carnival in Cologne is festive, relaxed and welcoming, and locals can be greater than prepared that can assist you when you’ve misplaced your approach or your group. I’ve by no means felt threatened or endangered in any approach – there’s a number of police and safety across the parades.

Nonetheless, as at all times with crowds, pickpockets are rife, so maintain your belongings shut.

See additionally: Simple Tricks to Outsmart Pickpocketing in Europe


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