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Cologne Carnival Guide And Schedule

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What would be this city without its Cologne Carnival? I can tell you what. It would be like tomato soup without tomato. Unthinkable.

At the last six days of its carnival time in February the whole city is in state of emergency. But it starts much earlier, actually...

The Cologne Carnival (Kölner Karneval) traditionally starts on November 11th at 11.11 a.m. on the Alter Markt (Old Market) in Altstadt (Old Town).

Funny People and Crazy Time at Cologne Carnival
Funny People And Crazy Time At Cologne Carnival

With the Cologne Carnival begins the so-called fifth season, which finally terminates the for the carnival crazy people "long period of hard slog" of summer.

Starting from November 11th, hundreds of meetings invite the public to laugh, sing and celebrate. There are mixed, pure lady and gentleman meetings as well as child and association meetings.

Even though the street carnival begins only about three months later in February, on the day of the opening in November, you are going to find people celebrating dressed up on the road and in the taverns of downtown Cologne.

Thursday: Weiberfastnacht (Women's Shrove)

Woman kissing a policeman for allowed cut off of his tie at Cologne Carnival
Woman kissing policeman for allowed tie cut off

Street carnival are going to start on a particular Thursday, the Weiberfastnacht (Women's Shrove). The ceremony starts on Alter Markt with the largest free air meeting, which begins already in the morning at 10 a.m..

At eleven o'clock comes the Dreigestirn (= Prince, Farmer and Virgin; all three represented by men) on stage, the prince makes a speech, and the city Cologne hands him over the keys of the city for the wild days. Starting from 11.11 a.m., the city then starts to celebrate all day long and the whole night on the roads, in the taverns, and in the offices.

And watch out! On that day, women are allowed to cut off mens tie and give them a kiss as a reward. wink

Friday and Saturday

Woman kissing a policeman for allowed cut off of his tie at Cologne Carnival
Carnival Lady

On Friday and Saturday it'll be celebrated in the taverns in the evenings. Whereby, you should absolutely visit those in which original Cologne Carnival Music is being played in order to receive the special Cologne Carnival flair.

On Saturday, the alternative spirit course possibly takes place in the evening. Unfortunately, the organizers are in bad money scarcity for some years. With luck one can stroll, like in the last years, as spirit or dark shape through the roads. Spontaneously and completely without previous registration.

Sunday: School and District Procession

School and District Procession on Sunday at Cologne Carnival
School and District Procession on Sunday

On Sunday, the Schull- und Veedelszöch (school and district procession) take place, which starting at 11 o'clock in and through downtown. They take the same way as the Rosenmontagszug (Monday before Lent procession).

The fantasyful costumes of the school's groups lure the crowds to the course way. Normally, here are thrown more sweets than on Rosenmontagszug.

Monday: Rosenmontag (Monday before Lent)

Rosenmontagszug (Monday before Lent)

Rosenmontag is apart from Women's Shrove a highlight of the Cologne Street Carnival. The famous Monday before Lent procession starts at 11.11 a.m. at Chlodwigplatz and needs around four hours for the 6.5 km (4 mi.) long way. In each year the procession runs under a new slogan. Hours before the course comes, some crazy already refer their places at the roadside, equipped with small camping chairs, provisions and, the most important, Kölsch (Cologne beer). To the music from the brought cassette recorder one sways oneself warm.

Tip: come in contact with someone who already is singing and swaying. That way, the time goes by like a flight. However, ensure you have enough bags for the out-thrown sweets coming from "everywhere." smile Also, on this day, most people aren't working.

Tuesday: Veilchendienstag (Violet Tuesday)

Funny People on Veilchendienstag (Violet Tuesday) at Cologne Carnival
Funny People on Veilchendienstag

After the "arduous" Monday, a relatively calm day again. However, around noon, processes are going on in the destricts of Cologne and outside. There you will have a lot of fun as well.

And at evening you must go to a Nubbelverbrennung (cremation of Nubbels). The Nubbel is a life-large straw doll, which hangs over many taverns during Cologne Carnival. He must pay for all sins, during the wild days was committed. Under large pain complaints, insults, and singing of merry carnival songs it will be burned. Subsequently, people are flying into the taverns in order to let the last day of Cologne Carnival end to the session being entitled. So once you are in a pub, inquire how and when the Nubbel is burned.


On Ashtray Wednesday, everything past. With the traditional fish meal the hangover is fought. wink

Rosenmontagszug in Numbers

Course length: 6 kilometers, course distance: 6.5 kilometers. Pass in review time: approximately 3 hours, 9000 participants, 117 chapels from Cologne, the surrounding countryside and several European countries.

Throw material: 140 tons of sweets, 700,000 bars of chocolate, 220,000 boxes chocolates, 300,000 bouquets, thousands dolls and further present material.

Transportation: 74 firm and splendor cars, 67 tractors, 50 baggage cars as well as 350 horses.

Used material: 4,200 meters of roof slats, 5,000 meters binding wire, 6,500 square meters wire mesh, 2,000 square meters of hard fiber boards, 75 Kilos of nails and staples, 3,600 Kilos of adhesive, 500 square meters of splinter and joiner boards, 10 square meters foam material.

Manufacturing costs for firm and splendor cars and chapels: 650.000 EUR. Total costs: approximately 2.3 million EUR.

Phew! After this gigantic Cologne Carnival, it's time for Cologne's Nightlife, isn't it? smile

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