Crazy Days at the Cologne Carnival

Backpackers visiting Cologne, Germany, this February will experience a Germany you never thought existed. The Cologne Carnival is a flamboyant festival packed full of songs, dancing and jugs of beer. Any hint of Germany formality is forgotten during Carnival season.

Even better for travellers there are some excellent accommodation deals this February. Book with us and you’ll save a fortune before you even arrive!

Picture is licensed under the Creative Commons agreement.

Cologne Carnival is known locally as ‘the fifth season of the year’, where the city’s residents take to the streets for Mardi Gras style parades. It may not be Venice or Rio, but the Germans know how to party on Ash Wednesday.

Carnival dates for 2016

Cologne girls
Picture Harold R Cologne/Flickr

Over a million people attend the parades, and almost everyone wears fancy dress, so make sure you bring a silly hat. The highlight of the carnival is Rose Monday (Rosenmontag – the 42nd day before Easter), two days before Ash Wednesday (10th February). Locals throw sweets and sing throughout the “crazy days” procession.

The carnival peaks on the Thursday, Sunday and Monday, which is known locally as the ‘Drei Tolle Tage’ or Three Crazy Days. The party starts at 11.11am on Thursday morning and provides everyone with an excuse for a party before Lent.

Cologne Beer Bus

Getting drunk with camp fat men dressed up as caterpillars is part of the fun. Germans like to party in style before Ash Wednesday. Remarkably cheap to visit as part of a European city break, all major events are free of charge.

Even better, the “crazy days” of Carnival are celebrated with street parties in public squares and city centre pubs. Closing times for pubs and bars are suspended for the duration of the festival.

Cologne’s history

Picture by D-Kuru from Wikimedia Commons
Picture by D-Kuru from Wikimedia Commons

Famous for its historic twin-spired cathedral, the Kölner Dom, and riverside views, the German city is a university town packed full of bars, restaurants and hedonistic nightclubs. Take a cruise on the Rhine, check out the famous cathedral and get your fashion fix in one of Germany’s most vibrant cities this February.

Cologne is also an arts and culture hub and hosts the biggest pop art collection outside the USA. The culture quarter in Neumarkt is home to 120 galleries and bears witness to Cologne’s growing reputation as a centre for the arts.

Where to stay in Cologne

MEININGER Hotel Cologne City Center

With over a million visitors arriving in the city, there will be high demand for accommodation this February. We have excellent availability in the city so book with us and save a fortune during the carnival season.

Staying in one of our boutique hostels is an excellent way to experience the city without breaking the bank.

We hope our carnival guide for 2016 will inspire you to visit Cologne this February. If you have already been to the city, please share the love before Ash Wednesday, and don’t forget to book with us!

*Header image is by Daniele Civello (Creative Commons)