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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.