February is the month of carnivals, but to enjoy a party the god Bacchus would be proud of, you have to come to Cologne from the 7th to the 13th of. Anyone who thinks that Germans are boring will witness that this stereotype could not be further from the truth, since pretty much the whole city goes out to celebrate the carnival for seven days in a row. The parties normally start very early in the morning and go on until the next morning in the bars and clubs of the city.
Each year the Carnival has a different motto. This year the motto is: “Fastelovend em Blot – he und am Zuckerhot”, which means Carnival in our blood – both here and in Rio.
All the celebrations start on Thursday the 7th of February with the Women’s Carnival, in which women wear their best costumes and gather at Alter Markt. At 11:11 a.m. the carnival is officially inaugurated by three figures: the prince, the farmer and the virgin (who is usually a man dressed as a woman). This celebration is called the Women’s Carnival in commemoration of the washerwomen held for the first time in 1824. On this day the women of the city are entirely free to do whatever they want, and it’s quite common to see groups of women cutting the ties to men. It is also possible that women give kisses to all the men who they cross that day. At 1.30 p.m. the traditional play of Jan and Griet is performed at Severinstorburg, a play of unrequited love between a knight and a lady. When finished, there is a procession in memory of Jan von Werth to Alter Markt, which hosts several musical and theatrical acts. Of course, the party goes on until the wee hours of the morning. This celebration is also known as Weiberfastnacht.
The next two days, Friday and Saturday, the city continues celebrating with many parties and masked balls. On Saturday is traditional to start drinking early, around 10 am, at the celebration known as Frühschoppen. You’ll head to Neumarkt to enjoy the traditional Funkenbiwak, which is a free beer festival, full of street performances and a great atmosphere. Soon enough you’ll meet the Jecken, carnival figures that are there all over the city.
Sunday is the day for parades and costumes, which will take place throughout the city all morning and afternoon. As it is Sunday, all children can join the celebrations. If you have been drinking since the beginning of the carnival, Sunday afternoon is the perfect time to have a good rest, you might need it.
On Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) you’ll see the largest parades at 10:30 am, in which people will throw flowers and candy. When the parade ends, there are usually some special celebrations in most of the restaurants in the city. Tuesday is when then Nubbel is burned, a straw figure of human size, which is fire up at a special ceremony, this is a tradition that dates back from the eighteenth century. The last day of celebration is the Ash Wednesday, which closes the carnival with a traditional fishmeal in the local restaurants.
Cologne Carnival is a festival for children and adults. Don’t forget that in addition to all official acts, there are always parties all around the city. Before coming to cologne, remember one phrase: Kölle Alaaf!
For more information: http://www.cologne-tourism.com/whats-on/carnival/dates.html
Rent apartments in Cologne and have a good rest after this fabulous Carnival. This is a celebration that will make you feel like coming back next year.