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Cologne Carnival (Kölner Karneval) 2023

Over a million people gather to see this colourful spectacle


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The Cologne Carnival takes place every year in Cologne, Germany, since the Middle Ages. The time of the carnival is officially declared open at Alter Markt square on the last Thursday before the Lent. A week-long street carnival, called "the crazy days," usually takes place between Fat Thursday and Ash Wednesday. Through these days, Cologne residents go out in most strange, unique, fancy, and funny costumes.

The large carnival parade on Shrove or Rose Monday begins at 10.30 a.m. at the Severinstor located in the southern part of Cologne, namely at the Chlodwigplatz. It winds through the city, passing by the Neumarkt and ends at Mohrenstraße. The front rows are reserved for kids. Parade also features many colourful floats, and participants of the parade are throwing "Strüßjer" (flowers) and "Kamelle" (sweets) into crowds of spectators. Also don't be surprised if a chocolate box or a bottle of Eau de Cologne will fly your way.

Every year, three people are selected to get the titles of Jungfrau, Prinz, and Bauer of the carnival. The carnival prince is the highest royalty of the festivities, leading the parades. He wears a crown with a peacock tail, a chain and a girdle, white pants, and a purple jacket. His float is the final one on Shrove Monday. The Jungfrau or "maiden" is usually a man dressed as a female. She has a crown and a mirror. Bauer is a peasant and he represents the large agricultural community of Cologne. This tradition has existed since 1883.

Aside from the main parade, there are plenty of smaller carnival events throughout the bars, clubs and local communities of Cologne. Women’s Carnival Day (Weiberfastnacht) brings out many young women dressed in festive clothes. On that day, men can get a Butzie (kiss) or lose their ties that can be cut with scissors. There is also an annual ghost parade on Saturday evening and a school parade. Cologne carnival is indeed one of the largest street festivals in Germany and the whole Europe.

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