Welcome to Europe’s finest celebration. I’m certain 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 might be dated again to Roman instances, and each metropolis, city and village in Europe celebrates its personal means.

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 – domestically generally known as Kölner Karneval. The city is actually swept away in a sea of colours, music and dance for six days. Over one million folks take the streets and locals received’t miss the celebration for something on the planet.

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

See additionally: A Guide 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 ‘Ladies’s Carnival’, and conclude with the burning of the ‘Nubbel’, a straw determine, on Tuesday evening.

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 hitch. Sunday is Household Day, when teams of schoolchildren from throughout Cologne march across the metropolis with their floats. The greatest 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 certainly spectacular, with marching bands and teams of cheerleaders opening every float, however crowds might be overbearing. Sunday is one other nice day to go to because the ambiance is extra subdued.

2. Select the place to look at 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 carry some luggage alongside to take all of the Kamelle dwelling with you!

With as much as one million folks within the streets, choosing a great place to look at the parade could be a problem. The world across the Dom is certainly scenic, nevertheless it’s additionally the place crowds are at their worst. We advocate 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. Check this map for the small print of the carnival parade.

3. Choose a flowery gown

You merely can not go to carnival with out fancy gown. You may carry your individual or hire/purchase one whenever you get to Cologne, and even simply seize a wig or a foolish hat from one among many stalls across the metropolis middle. For those who go for a full-blown fancy gown, bear 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 onerous to handle.

Additionally, don’t neglect 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 evening

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 normally comply with an analogous format – copious quantities of Kolsch, Cologne’s very personal beer, streamers and confetti and Carnival music enjoying all evening lengthy. For those who communicate a little bit of German, don’t fear in the event you can’t make any head or tail of the songs – they’re all in Cologne dialect.

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

5. What to eat and drink throughout Carnival

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

For those who’re planning on partying the entire day and entire evening, be sure to eat a superb breakfast as these Kolsch add up actually shortly and also you don’t wish to get too drunk too quickly!

See additionally: Traditional Beer and Food 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 in the course of the carnival season.

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

7. Attending to Cologne and round

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

To get round Cologne you need to use the wonderful public transport system, with trams and U-Bahn reaching each nook of 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 protected?

The ambiance of Carnival in Cologne is festive, relaxed and welcoming, and locals might be greater than prepared that will help you in the event you’ve misplaced your means or your group. I’ve by no means felt threatened or endangered in any means – there’s plenty of police and safety across the parades.

Nonetheless, as all the time with crowds, pickpockets are rife, so hold your belongings shut.

See additionally: Easy Tips to Outsmart Pickpocketing in Europe


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