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Cologne Carnival, Germany

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What is the Cologne Carnival?

The Cologne Carnival is an annual celebration held in western Germany. During the Cologne Carnival there are no limits to how much you can design your costume; after all, it is “The Crazy Days“. The Carnivals in Cologne, as well as much of Germany, are known as the “Fifth Season” due to their great importance in the country, so they are considered an additional season to the 4 we know.

The celebration of Carnival in Colonia is a big event in the city and the coloneses decide to completely transform their daily life to transform them into special festivities. The streets of the city become afestival of fantastic and particular costumes, in which everyone wears a costume with which they identify themselves, whether they are their favorite characters or fantasy heroes.

 

 

Cologne Carnival features an opening ceremony in November; however, the real carnivals, the crazy days, start from Mardi Gras Thursday to Shrove Tuesday, when all the magic, colors and treatss take over every corner of the city. In Cologne, Carnival is celebrated withparties in the streets, in the public squares and in the bars, day and night.

The motto of theCarnival season of the year 2021 is “Nur zesamme sin mer Fastelovend“, which in English would be “Only together we are carnivals“. This slogan highlights thecolorful diversity of the festival and invites all inhabitants of the city and the country to celebrate together as brothers.

 

The Cologne Carnival is known in the city as the craziest days

The Cologne Carnival is known in the city as the craziest days

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When is the Cologne Carnival

The Cologne Carnival features an opening ceremony on November 11 at 11:11, which is when the city welcomes the magic into its streets through music and celebration. However, the real crazy days begin in February, just before Lent.

The Cologne Carnival will take place from approximately February 24 to March 2.

 

History of the Cologne Carnivals

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The Cologne Carnival is almost as old as the city itself; however, it has been celebrated in an organized manner as we know it today for only about 190 years. The ancient Germans celebrated the winter solstice in order to pay homage to the gods and drive out the evil demons of winter. Later, Christians absorbed these pagan customs to be celebrated before Lent.

 

Middle Ages

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In theMiddle Ages, carnivals in Cologne were usually quite busy, the people drank, ate, danced and wore costumes to parade, either on foot or on horseback. Carnival was the time for pleasures and indulgences, so people spent day and night celebrating, eating and playing pranks. Due to the great excesses, carnivals became difficult to control, which resulted in being heavily punished and with significant censorship.



Eighteenth century

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During the 18th century, carnivals began to integrate more sophisticated elements, such as salon balls with large and refined dresses, which were influenced by Venetian fashion. At the end of the century, the city was taken over by French revolutionary forces. However, the carnivals continued to be celebrated and evolved.

 

Nineteenth century

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At the turn of the century, the first carnival committee was founded and the first Rosenmontag was celebrated. The founding of the first committee paved the way for the creation of many more guilds and societies, which have two strands: the Korpsgesellschaften, which wear uniforms, and the Komiteegesellschaften, which are carnival committees offering a range of carnival activities.

In 1827 special prizes began to be awarded at carnivals, these consisted of medals, which were given to people with outstanding participation. Later that same century, the first “Phantom Parade” was held, an alternative to the conventional parade featuring terrifying characters. Today, this celebration is still held at carnivals.

 

Twentieth Century and Modernity

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At the beginning of the 20th century, the Guardia de Honor was created for the Prince of Carnival and later, new societies were formed, which contributed to the identity of the city’s carnivals outside its borders. Today, there are around 160 carnival societies, including the Club de Futbol de la ciudad, all of which celebrate and party in the more than 600 shows, dances and parades.

 

Where is the Cologne Carnival

Carnival celebrations are held in Cologne, a 2,000-year-old city on the banks of the Rhine River in western Germany.

The city of Cologne has an area of 405 square kilometers and is home to about 1 million people.

 

The Cologne Carnival features large parades of floats throwing sweets

The Cologne Carnival features large parades of floats throwing sweets

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How the Cologne Carnival is celebrated

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The carnival celebration in Cologne has no limits and depends on how creative you are. In general, the carnival is composed of several elements that make these festivities a unique and particular event. During the festivities it is common to come across some expressions, greetings or costumes that have permeated the traditions of carnivals that are still used today.

 

Bützchen

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The Cologne Carnival is characterized by its extraordinary display of affection, so during the celebrations many people kiss each other. Generally speaking, for strangers or the general public, these kisses are only expressed with a gesture with the lips. Even if it is something strange and does not happen often, you can always receive a kiss on the cheek or on the lips..

 

Alaaf

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Alaaf is an expression you will always hear at carnivals. People who say it usually get a ” Kölle Alaaf ” or simply “Allaf” with increased enthusiasm. The word has been around for centuries, making it an important tradition at carnivals.

Costumes

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Although carnivals do not have a particular theme and depend on your imagination, some patterns are always repeated every year.

The most traditional costume at parties is that of a clown or jester, with its respective wig, painted lips, red nose and colorful makeup on the face. In addition, some people decide to dress up in the colors of the city. Another characteristic costume is the spring costume with flowers all over the place, cheerful makeup and green everywhere. Finally, people usually also choose to wear costumes together with friends, so you can see some groups of people wearing the same costume, either bees or complementary characters or superheroes..

If you don’t possess a lot of time to design your costume, a red nose and wig will work perfectly as a last minute costume.

 

Music

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Music is an essential component to the carnival celebration. Dozens of musicians tour the city with wind and percussion instruments. In addition, they featuremusical pieces that have been maintained since the 20th century by great German composers and musicians.

 

Candy throwing

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Throwing sweets from floats has become a global practice at carnivals. However, in Cologne they have upped the ante by adding new and better ways to throw them. While people can simplythrow candy with their hands, the floats in Cologne feature pressurized air cannons that blow hundreds of candies into the air until they land in the hands of spectators.

 

Tips for going to the Cologne Carnival

If you want to be part of the Carnivals in Cologne, we recommend planning your trip in advance, making a travel itinerary and booking your accommodation preferably in advance. Also, remember to pack comfortable clothes and warm clothes to go out to party and protect yourself from the cold.

We recommend that you participate in the parties with a costume and have a direct participation in the festivities. If you are going to wear a full costume, be sure to make an extra space to put a coat underneath so you don’t get cold.

 

Events in Cologne Carnival

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The Cologne Carnival has a well-defined program where celebrations and activities take place every day. Generally, each day has a different purpose and particular ceremonies are held. Some of these events take place even months before the official Carnival celebrations.

 

Weiberfastnacht or Women’s Carnival

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During the month of November an opening celebration of the carnival season takes place. The city center is transformed into one big party to experience carnival in its most traditional form. The celebrations start early in the morning, the streets are filled with fancy dressed women on their way to their place of work and from 10 am they all head towards the Alter Markt..

At 11:11 am the Street Carnival officially opens at the Alter Markt with the three main Carnival figures: the Prince, the Campesino and Doncella. The festivities take place with dancing, music and concerts. The celebrations continue in the bars in the city center, around the Heumarkt and Alter Markt squares.

 

Friday Carnival

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Shrove Friday is in fact, a day of quiet celebration. People make some meetings held traditionally by the official groupings, guilds and committees. In addition, there are some events planned with a program and colorful performances of numerous carnival artists until the evening.

 

Carnival Saturday

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Carnival Saturday starts in the morning with an event in which beer is the main protagonist. During the event,traditional beer of the city called Kölsch is consumed in narrow cylindrical glasses known as “Kölner Stangen.” Usually, the refill is free, so you can drink as much as you want. In addition, there are some carnival parades in the various districts of the city.

 

Phantom Parade

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This is a parade at night where people dress up inghosts, witches and terrifying characters costumes. This parade has been held for several years and has a large participation. Each year has a different theme and a slogan that accompanies it.

 

Carnival Sunday

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Events begin to take place from 11:11 am and activities are held mainly for family recreation. Children are the main part of the celebration and the streets are also filled with carriages, costumes and fun. During the night the festivities continue with some parades and parties in bars and clubs.

 

Rosenmontag

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This is the highlight of the festivities. During the day there is the Great Carnival Parade with all the floats, which start taking to the streets at 10 am. People arrange themselves on the sides of the streets to grab candy, while the people on the floats throw kisses and party with animosity. The whole event is accompanied by themusical bands and hundreds of thousands of multicolored and themed costumes..

 

Carnival Tuesday

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During the day some parades are held in the suburbs of the city. The most important event of the day takes place at midnight with the burial or burning of “Nubbel”, an effigy made of rag and straw that represents all the bad deeds that have been done during the carnivals. With its burning, all the sin committed is cleansed.

 

Cinder Wednesday

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During the morning, Catholics attend church. During the afternoon, the Cologne carnivals or the Fifth Station are formally concluded with fish dishes.

 

Throwing sweets at the Cologne Carnival is one of the most deep-rooted traditions of the festivities

Throwing sweets at the Cologne Carnival is one of the most deep-rooted traditions of the festivities

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Cologne Carnival Parades

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During the carnival days, various carnival parades take place. However, the most important of all is the one that takes place on Shrove Monday or Rosenmontag. During the day you can see hundreds of thousands of people wearing costumes in the streets, each of them with diverse colors and particular themes. In addition, dozens of floats pass through the streets accompanied by dancers, acrobats and musicians. Thousands of candies and confetti are thrown from the floats.

 

Parade route

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The Main Cologne Carnival Parade takes place on Shrove Monday or Rosenmontag

The Main Cologne Carnival Parade takes place on Shrove Monday or Rosenmontag

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The parade route during Rosenmontag is almost 7.k kilometers long. The parade starts at 10:30 a.m. at Chlodwigplatz and culminates at Auflösung.

 

The Kölsch is a traditional beer of the city of Cologne

The Kölsch is a traditional beer of the city of Cologne

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What to eat at the Cologne Carnival

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The Cologne Carnival is a celebration that takes place a lot of excitement. Also, like many other carnivals, it features food and drinks that are part of the carnival tradition, these can vary between alcoholic drinks, sweets and high calorie meals with pork, sausages and blood sausages.

One of the drinks that is part of the tradition is the Kölsch, a local beer. The cherry is not too dominant in flavor, so its taste is standard. It is usually served in cylindrical, elongated and narrow glasses. During the festivities they are consumed in abundance and it is almost a misdeed to refuse the drink if someone offers you some.

Another traditional food is the Mutzenmandeln, a fried doughnut. These doughnuts are made with wheat flour, butter and rum extract or flavoring. They have the particularity of having an elongated shape like a drop of water or almond. The final product is consumed covered with abundant sugar.

In addition, the city of Colonia has a large number of places which you can visit to try typical local and regional dishes. Some of the best known are: Gast und Weinhaus Brungs, Restaurant Gaststaette Bei Oma Kleinmann and Lommerzheim..

 

Travel Insurance

 

From Carnavalesdelmundo.org we recommend to hire a good insurance to visit this carnival and to know the rest of the country. For being our readers we offer a 5% discount on all IATI insurances. Read more information about all insurance offers here.

 

What to see and do inside the Cologne Carnival

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You have a long list of events to attend during the carnival. If you extend your visit from November, you have the opportunity to see the opening of the carnival for yourself; however, if you can’t attend, you still have the chance to experience the celebrations in full force during the month of February. During the festivities you cannot underestimate a Kölsch in its traditional presentation of Kölner Stangen, it is one of the typical carnival drinks.

You can alsoattend the ghost parade that occurs on Saturday night. Over the next few days you can also attend the various suburban parades that occur throughout the city. Shrove Monday or Rosenmontag is a must, as it is the day of the Grand Parade with the dozens of floats, acrobats, dancers and sweets. Finally, you cango to the burning of the “Nubbel”, one of the culmination ceremonies of the carnivals. On Ash Wednesday, you can end the festivities with a good meal of fish.

 

What to see and do outside the Cologne Carnivals

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The city of Cologne offers you a wealth of attractions to visit during the carnival festivities.

Museum Ludwig

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It is an art museum with an important collection of modern art. It also has several works by Picasso, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein. The museum was established in 1976 and in 1994 was honored with the Wolfgang Hahn Award.

 

Cologne Cathedral

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It is a Catholic cathedral in Gothic style, whose construction began in the year 1248 and culminated in 1880 due to a series of interruptions. Today it still has a series of restorations; however, it is suitable for the public who want to enter. The cathedral has great proportions, with a length of 144 meters high and 86 meters wide.

 

Flora and Botanical Garden of Cologne

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It is a public garden, which in turn has a botanical garden. The total area of the entire grounds is 11 hectares and features rainforest plants, tropical crops, subtropical plants and cacti.

Also if you want to visit museums and important buildings in this city we recommend that you book your entrance ticket in advance through Tiquets: .

 

 

Weather at the Cologne Carnival

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During carnivals, the city of Cologne has quite cold weather, with temperatures ranging from 1 to 7 degrees Celsius. We recommend you to pack some warm clothes to keep warm during the festivities.

 

Clowns are the most common costumes at the Cologne Carnival

Clowns are the most common costumes at the Cologne Carnival

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How to get to the Cologne Carnival

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How to get there by plane

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The closest airport to the city is Cologne/Bonn Airport, which receives a good number of domestic and international flights. Once here, you can use the various means of transportation to reach the city center.

In addition, you can also land at Frankfurt Airport or Dusseldorf and then use the means of transport to Cologne.

We recommend buying airline tickets through Kiwi.com or Skyscanner where they are usually cheaper. More information on this link to review Kiwi.com.

 

How to get there by train

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From the airport you can take a Deutsche Bahn Regional train to the city center. The ride is about 10 minutes to the station.

The city has two main train stations, so it has connections to Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Paris and several cities in the country.

 

How to get there by bus

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Cologne has a station that makes both domestic and international trips.

 

How to get there by car

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From the airport you can take the A559 road to the city center. The journey takes 15 minutes.

 

Where to stay at the Cologne Carnival

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Booking.com

 

Leonardo Hotel Köln

4-star hotel 3.5 km from the city center. Rooms have air conditioning, television and private bathroom. Facilities include swimming pool, bar, parking and free wifi.

 

AZIMUT Hotel Cologne

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4-star hotel 1.1 km from the city center. Rooms feature TV, air conditioning, desk and private bathroom. The hotel has a gym, restaurant, bar, parking and free wifi.

 

Hyatt Regency Köln

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5-star hotel 800 meters from the city center. Rooms feature TV, tea/coffee set, minibar and private bathroom. The hotel has a pool, gym, bar, restaurant, airport transfers and free Wi-Fi.

We recommend you use Booking.com to book hotels at a good price, check more information here:.

Thank you for reading

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