Cologne Carnival takes place from 27th February – 4th March 2014 this year, but the hype begins at 11 minutes past 11 on 11 November every year.
At this point the mayor the reins to a triumvirate consisting of a prince, a peasant and a maiden, and the ‘fifth season’ gets under way, marked by parties and impromptu fun leading up to the week-long carnival celebrations.
During Carnival week, the citizens of Cologne cast aside their characteristic conservatism and let their hair down for seven days of serial silliness. Each day presents opportunities for fun and jubilation, but the major events are:
- Weiberfastnacht –On Shrove Thursday the offices and shops are deserted by 10am when everyone heads to the Alter Markt for the 11:11am start of the Women’s Carnival Day program. Concerts and parades take place all day long followed by masked balls and parties in all the bars and clubs. It’s a free for all for women, and if a lady with pursed lips approaches a gentleman, he should prepare himself for a Butzie, which is a carnival kiss, but if she is brandishing a pair of scissors, he can expect to lose his tie!
- Carnival Saturday – Traditionally, this day kicks off with an early morning drink called aFrühschoppen to get the show on the road. The first parade of the festival, the gathering of the colourful troops, is at Neumarkt and by afternoon the city is filled with carnival figures ready for a night on the town.
- Rose Monday – The climax of the carnival with the largest parade in Europe commencing at 10:30am. Over a million spectators turnout for this spectacle which involves 10,096 participants, 74 decorated floats, 67 tractors, 50 trucks, 350 horsemen and 117 bands. Gifts are thrown to the crowds in the form of 140 tons of sweets, 700,000 bars of chocolate, 220,000 boxes of chocolate, 300,000 bunches of flowers and thousands of soft toys.
Carnival ends with a ceremonial burning of the ‘Nubbel’, a life-size straw figurine and the preparations for the next year begin all over again. So Book Now to get your tickets!