8 Tips to Make the Most of your Carnival in Cologne


Welcome to Europe’s best party. I’m sure none of you are strangers to the revelries of Carnival, to fancy dress parades, giant floats and the madness happening before Lent begins. Carnival can be dated back to Roman times, and every city, town and village in Europe celebrates its own way.

I’ve been touring Carnival celebrations for years now, and nowhere have I seen it celebrated with as much passion and sentiment as in Cologne – locally known as Kölner Karneval. The town is literally swept away in a sea of colors, music and dance for six days. Over a million people take the streets and locals won’t miss the celebration for anything in the world.

It’s the party to end all parties – and here are 7 tips for you to enjoy Carnival in Cologne at its best.

See also: A Guide to Visiting Cologne, Germany

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

1. Choose when to visit

Carnival parades in Cologne happen over a course of 6 days, with every day different celebrations. Festivities kick off on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday with ‘Women’s Carnival’, and conclude with the burning of the ‘Nubbel’, a straw figure, on Tuesday night.

On Friday there are parties and parades all over town, and on Saturday evening the ‘Ghost Parade’ takes place, the only parade the public is allowed to join. Sunday is Family Day, when groups of schoolchildren from all over Cologne march around the city with their floats. The biggest parade is the one happening on Rose Monday, with over 70 large floats from Cologne’s official carnival groups.

The Rose Monday parade is definitely impressive, with marching bands and groups of cheerleaders opening each float,…

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