Carnival season is upon us! Locals, immigrants and tourists alike ring in the crazy celebrations in Cologne with parades, costumes and masked balls galore. With an entire week dedicated to wild festivities, it’s no wonder that the Cologne Carnival is hailed the “Party des Jahres” (whatever that means…)
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Women’s Carnival Day starts off the event and is celebrated on Feburary 27th. At 13:30 (1:30 PM), the historical play “Jan un Griet” is performed, and festive music is played, leading into elaborate dances. When the sun sets, that’s when the masked balls and parties come out to play. Are you tired already? We’re just getting started.
The Women’s Carnival (taking place on a Thursday) starts off what is a 6 day celebration filled with the traditional Cologne Frühschoppen (sorry, I was just trying to show off) which is an early-morning drink, at 10:30 A.M. at Neumarkt. The city will be overflowing with Carnival figures throughout the entire week and the afternoons are left open for parties, parties and (you guessed it!) even more parties.
By Carnival Sunday, you’ll be able to see different school groups in fancy dresses and original costumes, parading through the city. Monday is also a part of the carnival fun but its such an exciting day that they had to give it a separate name. “Rose Monday” is when the official parade takes place, complete with sweets, bouquets of flowers and over one million spectators in their fanciest dress.
If you don’t have the opportunity to learn German before the carnival (seriously, who has the time?) then just learn one mandatory term: “Kölle Alaaf”. It means “Long live Cologne” and it’s the only way you will get through the day, for the streets will be filled with the constant sounds of this battle cry.
Tuesday is officially the last day of celebration with parties lasting until midnight and the ceremonial burning of the Nubbel, a life-size straw figure. March 5th is Ash Wednesday and if you’ve made it to the end of this endless carnival celebration, you are hailed as a “survivor”. This day is dedicated to nursing your hangover and a traditional fish dinner in one of the local restaurants or pubs. Happy partying!