Welcome to Europe’s greatest occasion. I’m positive none of you might be strangers to the revelries of Carnival, to fancy costume parades, large floats and the insanity taking place earlier than Lent begins. Carnival will 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 – regionally referred to 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 occasion to finish all events – and listed below are 7 ideas so that you can take pleasure in Carnival in Cologne at its greatest.
See additionally: A Information to Visiting Cologne, Germany
1. Select when to go to
Carnival parades in Cologne occur over a course of 6 days, with every single 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 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 will be overbearing. Sunday is one other nice day to go to because the environment 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 environment, with folks screaming Kolle Alaaf – the carnival motto, which means Cologne above all – and throwing Kamelle (sweets) to bystanders. Be sure you convey some baggage alongside to take all of the Kamelle dwelling with you!
With as much as one million folks within the streets, selecting a great spot to look at the parade could be a problem. The realm 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 an alternative to the backstreets simply off Neumarkt, or close to the start of the parade. Verify this map for the small print of the carnival parade.
3. Decide a flowery costume
You merely can’t go to carnival with out fancy costume. You’ll be able to convey your individual or lease/purchase one once you get to Cologne, and even simply seize a wig or a foolish hat from one among many stalls across the metropolis middle. In the event you go for a full-blown fancy costume, bear in mind you’ll be in your toes for a lot of the day, so select one thing sensible – an 18th century Venetian-style costume will most likely be laborious 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 fashion 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 occasion 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 enjoying all night time lengthy. In the event you converse a little bit of German, don’t fear for those who can’t make any head or tail of the songs – they’re all in Cologne dialect.
Bars across the metropolis middle are more likely to be packed – head out of town middle 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 quick reply? Eat avenue 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 decide up some bottles at a nook retailer.
In the event you’re planning on partying the entire day and complete night time, be sure you eat breakfast as these Kolsch add up actually rapidly 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 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 typically steep. We suggest taking the prepare as an alternative (seek for tickets on Kayak) – town is a really busy railway hub with a lot of trains coming from each nook of Europe, so that they’re not more likely 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 should 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 extra 15 to succeed in the Dom and Hauptbahnhof.
8. Is carnival in Cologne protected?
The environment of Carnival in Cologne is festive, relaxed and welcoming, and locals can be greater than keen that will help you for those who’ve misplaced your means or your group. I’ve by no means felt threatened or endangered in any means – there’s a lot of police and safety across the parades.
Nonetheless, as all the time with crowds, pickpockets are rife, so maintain your belongings shut.
See additionally: Simple Tricks to Outsmart Pickpocketing in Europe