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Cologne Carnival 2023

The event starts at

16 February 2023

 - 

The event ends at

22 February 2023

Event's location
Cologne, Germany

November 11th - Cologne carnival opening

Every year at the beginning of November, the heart of all carnival goers beats a little faster: On 11/11, the official opening of the carnival season takes place. Cologne being a world-famous carnival host city has its say that day. As early as 9:00 AM, people start celebrating on Cologne's Heumarkt and the adjacent Alter Markt.

At exactly 11:11 AM, the official start of the session takes place for
Cologne carnival in the old town, which is accompanied by a glittering rain. In keeping with tradition, all the well-known stars of carnival music, as well as the designated triumvirate, will then give their all so that the colorfully costumed carnival jesters can enjoy the carnival to the fullest.

Whether it's Cologne Carnival at the Alter Markt or elsewhere, everyone is in a carnival mood. On 11/11, well-known and new Cologne sounds invite you to dance and sing along until 7 pm.

The women's carnival day (Weiberfastnacht)

The women's carnival day (Weiberfastnacht)

Cologne Carnival participants look forward to the Weiberfastnacht or Wieverfastelovend, as it is called in Cologne. With the Weiberfastnacht the street carnival is opened. For this purpose, a so-called open-air session takes place at the Cologne Carnival on the Old Market. It starts already at 10 o'clock in the morning. An hour later, the Cologne Carnival triumvirate, i.e. the prince, the peasant and the maiden, address their subjects. These three are in charge of the entire city until Körn Karneval Ash Wednesday. Incidentally, the open-air session is also broadcast on a large screen at the Köln Karneval Heumarkt. The stage program will also be broadcast in many other parts of Cologne.

And then, at the latest at 11:11 a.m., there will be no stopping. Cologne Carnival becomes one big celebration: for a full 24 hours, i.e. the entire day and night, there are celebrations in the Cologne Carnival bars and pubs, on the city streets and even in the offices. A tradition is the performance of the history play "Jan and Griet" around 13:30 at the Severinstor. Immediately afterwards, the first carnival parade of the equestrian corps Jan von Werth continues from the southern part of Cologne to the famous monument with the name "Jan von Werth", which is located at Alter Markt.

Throughout the day, the custom in which the "jecken Wiever" (the crazy women) cut off the tie of the men.

Men can also expect "Bützen" (kissing with closed lips) on this day. At Carnival, bützening is allowed everywhere and even with strangers.

The Cologne Carnival Friday

The Cologne Carnival Friday

After this roaring start, Carnival Friday starts at a more leisurely pace. The activities on this Cologne Carnival day usually start around the evening. On this day, people celebrate mainly in bars and pubs. Many do private parties. You can experience the special flair of Carnival Friday in those pubs where the people of Cologne also party the loudest and the most. These special pubs usually would have big queues in front of them.

A special highlight of a different kind is the Cologne Carnival Star March, which takes place in the Cologne Veedelszöch. The Sternmarsch starts from four locations in the city: Heumarkt, Bollwerk, Laurenzplatz as well as Eisenmarkt. From these places, the jesters move up to the old market. There, starting at 6 PM, a carnival program with music and the triumvirate will take place.

The Cologne Carnival Saturday

Photo by Marco Verch, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Cologne Carnival Saturday

Cologne Carnival Alaaf: On Carnival Saturday, things get started early. As early as 10:30 AM, the Red Sparks come to Neumarkt. Here, the oldest traditional corps of the Cologne Carnival offers pea soup and Kölsch beer. In addition, there is a carnival program, which is shown on many different stages. What remains unchanged these days is the partying in the pubs. In addition, there are numerous parties and balls. A special celebration takes place in the marquee at the Südstadion. In many parts of Cologne, carnival parades will take place in the streets on Saturday. This also applies to Sunday and Tuesday.

On Saturday evening, however, it also gets spooky. On this day, the ghost parade takes place. Also, there are a lot of politically themed compositions during the parade.

The Cologne Carnival Sunday

Photo by Robert Brands, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The Cologne Carnival Sunday

On Sunday, the Cologne street carnival gradually approaches its culmination. As if in rehearsal for the Cologne Rose Monday procession, the so-called Schull- und Veedelszöch begins at 10:30 AM. These are parades that originate specifically from schools or from neighborhoods and move through the city. It is the same procession route that the Rose Monday procession will take. Many people come to admire the costumes of the many Cologne school and district groups.

On Cologne Carnival Sunday, the street carnival reaches its peak in many parts of Cologne.

The Rose Monday

Photo by Marco Verch, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Rose Monday

Rose Monday is considered the highlight of Cologne's street carnival. It is known far beyond the city limits. The Cologne Shrove Monday procession starts around 10 a.m. at Chlodwigplatz. It then moves through the entire city center of Cologne and takes almost four hours to do so. Long before the procession starts, the jesters and guests of the city gather at the roadside. For the Cologne Carnival street parade, the spectators equip themselves with numerous Cologne Carnival accessories: Camping chairs, snacks, and of course, Kölsch beer. Traditionally, the Blue Sparks is the first group to lead the Rose Monday parade.

It's especially fun to go to the parade with as many friends and acquaintances as possible.

The Violet Tuesday

Photo by Superbass, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Violet Tuesday

Rose Monday is certainly the highlight of the Cologne Carnival. Therefore, there is a little more rest and relaxation on the so-called Violet Tuesday. In the afternoon, the first carnival processions begin to move through the various parts of the city.

But in the evening, the usual celebrations in the bars and pubs of the city begins. The highlight of Violet Tuesday is the burning of the Nubbel. Nubbel is a straw doll. This big doll hangs outside numerous Cologne pubs during the carnival days. Nubbel must now be burnt for all the sins and misdeeds committed during the Cologne carnival period. For this, the puppet is now pinned under great shouting, lamenting, scolding, disgrace and singing.

The Ash Wednesday

Photo by Roman Bürki

The Ash Wednesday

The last day of the Cologne Carnival is Ash Wednesday. You can fight the permanent hangover from the permanent partying on Ash Wednesday with the traditional fish dinner. This is offered on this day in many Cologne restaurants.

The Cologne Carnival is very popular and many guests are expected in the city. Therefore, secure your Cologne Carnival hotel well in advance of the Cologne Carnival opening. Cologne Carnival visitor numbers increase year after year. You will often find designated Cologne Carnival zones in the city. Nevertheless, keep in mind that during the carnival period, public life in the city almost comes to a standstill. Museums, for example, are not open during this time.

Learn more about the Cologne Carnival

Here are the steps to plan your trip

1. Go to the official website and double check the event availability, prices and regulations.

2. Check below the accommodations in hotels in Cologne available during the the event. ⤵︎

How to find best prices for hotels

2.1. Pick a hotel room by location and by price.

2.2. The search is done for 1 guest and the entire duration of the event. Click on the 'Filter', 'Guests', and 'Dates' buttons to adjust the search.

🏨 In the 'Filters' section, you can tell if you are looking for hotels or vacation homes. Here, you can filter the results by stars, review ratings, and budget.

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 In this section, you can specify the number of guests (adults and children) and the number of rooms you want to book.

📆 Finally, you can change the date of your stay.

2.3. Save more money! Some hotel rooms are provided by multiple hotel booking websites. You will see them on the top of the hotel room details when you hover the mouse over the room.Be it Booking.com, Expedia, Trivago, Opodo, or other providers, select the best price provider for the room during the chosen period.

2.4. If hotel rooms are not available around the event location, you can zoom out or search by a nearby city/town name. If you have a specific hotel in mind, you can even search the particular hotel name.

2.5. Bonus tip: Switch to Experiences search. Perhaps you will find great tours and activities!

2.6. Pro tip: The map of the experiences may help you find the most vibrant areas in the city and the best locations where you can look for accommodations for your stay.

3. Check the flight, bus, and train travel options to the event location

4. If everything is fine you can buy all the tickets

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