Cologne’s Carnival is Germany’s second-most famous celebration after Oktoberfest. Nearly a million people attend the annual festivities, which kick off in November and ramp up around Lent in February. Here are a few ways to enjoy the celebration.
- Pedal through the city center on a small-group bike tour to see where the Carnival celebrations take place, including Kölner Dom (Cologne Cathedral).
- Attend one of the city’s costume balls, Fools’ Gatherings, or a parade rehearsal to get in the Carnival spirit.
- Participate in a pub crawl to see the best of Cologne’s nightlife.
- At 11:11am on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, kick off Carnival Week with costume parades and street parties.
- Wrap up Carnival season at the official Carnival parade called the Rose Monday Parade (Rosenmontag), featuring marching bands, dancers, elaborately constructed floats, and thousands of costumed revelers shouting “Kölle Alaaf!”
- Check out the year-round Cologne Carnival Museum for elaborate Carnival costumes and floats, and to learn more about the origins the Carnival (Fastnacht) origins around Easter and Lent.