The Cologne Carnival, the biggest street festival of Germany’s fourth largest city, opens on 11 November at 11.11. Up to 70000 carnival enthusiasts meet today on the Heumarkt square in the city centre of Cologne and will celebrate the beginning of the so-called “fifth season of the year”, the carnival. Get fancy dressed to welcome the traditional Dreigestirn, trio leading the carnival festivities, as well as numerous bands who will entertain the crowd until the little hours in the morning.
The carnival celebrations are set aside during the Advent and Christmas period. The next big event is on 12 February 2015, Shrove Thursday, traditionally the Women’s carnival day. All women go to work fancy-dressed and gather in the city center for the start of the crazy days at 11.11..
This sets the opening of a huge street party which goes on for a week, culminating on Rosenmontag (Monday 16.02.2015) when the city turns into a complete madhouse of fancy-dressed and masked revellers. Young and old meet along the 6km long Parade to admire the massive floats and catch some of thousands of kilos of sweets thrown to the public. The Parade involves more than 10000 participants and goes on for hours. The party then continues throughout the streets and bars of the city in a merry and colourful mix. It all ends on Ash Wednesday. From then on starts the Lent period, during which Christians prepare for Easter by observing fasting and repentance over 6 weeks.
If you are in Germany next February, do not miss the chance to join in for the famous Cologne Carnival and party like a local.