Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Cologne Carnival - Fastelovend

Cologne Carnival

Little did we know that when we booked our trip to Cologne there was a huge week long carnival on. This was even after googling, instagraming and even pinning on Pinterest to arrange our few days there. This showed up no where!!! So it was a little surprise in our taxi from the Airport when the guy asked us whether we were here for the carnival and we were clueless to what he meant. When we arrived into the city, they were beginning to put all the stages, seats and decorations up ready for the parades.. how did we not know about this?! Our taxi driver also told us on Thursday (Fat Thursday - Weiberfastnacht) when we flew home, that all the shops close and it's pretty hard to get taxis to the airport (nightmare), as it's like a bank holiday!

Cologne Carnival takes place each year, in our case the week commencing the 5th March, which begins the days before Lent. On the Thursday (Fat Thursday), everyone gets dressed up and I mean everyone. Never in my life have I felt so out of place being not in fancy dress, everyone really goes all out. If it hadn't been the day we were flying home, we definitely would have grabbed some fancy dress from one of the hundreds of fancy dress stores. The first Thursday celebrates women, and a lot of women meet in the square (Alter Markt) at 11:11 to begin, then all the parades begin for the day.

Cologne Carnival

The Carnival runs for 5 days from the Thursday, there is different events on around the whole city. Some street parades, live music and plays and basically lots of drinking. Don't be surprised to see a lot of alcohol, people generally start drinking in the morning and continue into the next morning. Although the Friday day time is another working day. The bars come out into the streets, everyone has bottles of schnapps and there is places to buy beer from everywhere.

After you spend most of the day time recovering, Friday afternoon is where it starts again. At 6pm the Alter Markt becomes a show of the best costumes, even the bad costumes were good so I do wish I'd seen how good these costumes would have been. Then again, you drink beer into the night!

Saturday is the Ghost Parade, where people will dress as witches and vampires for a parade from Maternusstraße and Alteburger Straße at 6pm. This is one thing I'm gutted I missed, I love a good spooky carnival and I would have loved to have seen the outfits. (And again you drink into the night).

Sunday begins at 11:11, so you either get some extra sleep to recover, or you carry on. The schools all get dressed up and parade through town in their costumes (and they throw sweets and flowers, perks). Sunday is a quieter day, so you can use the day to recover and get ready for mad Monday.

Cologne Carnival

Monday is the main event, and the one most tourists will travel for (unless you were like us and were clueless). There is a huge parade through the city with floats (usually featuring Trump jokes), the tradition is to depicted political satire. I mean who wouldn't want to see a giant float of Trump in a dress?! I'm so sad I missed it! Again, this day is filled with alcohol!

Violet Tuesday is the last day and usually a bit quieter as people will have work the next day. There is parades through the town still, and as this is the last day before Lent - time to eat or drink as much as you can before you give something up! At midnight on Violet Tuesday local bars will have a Nubbel outside, which is basically a human size dummy. The dummy is burnt to symbolise all the transgressions committed. The largest ceremony takes place in Cologne's Kwartier Latäng student district, then you can continue drinking (again).

Although the Carnival is quite alcohol fuelled, if that's not your vibe there is still loads to see and do. We quite enjoyed just people watching everyone in the costumes enjoy themselves while grabbing a burger. Everyone is ridiculously friendly, we stopped and talked to a lot of people while just watching the parades (and drinking beer).

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Cologne Carnival

I was so so gutted to leave the carnival as it was just starting out, I mean who doesn't want to go on a trip where you wear a belt made of schnapps?! Definitely want to go back next year! Cologne Carnival is on 28 February to the 3rd of March in 2019!

Have you ever been to a festival abroad?

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