ALAAF YOU – Cologne’s carnival guide

Köln Karneval, Karnevalskostüm

If you haven’t been to Cologne, the 5th season is definitely the best time of the year. The fun starts on November 11th, 11:11 am, and ends in February or March. In between that time, you will meet several costumed and drunk people, who celebrate “Fastelovend”. The high season of parades and carnival session is between “Weiberfastnacht”, a Thursday, and Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is famous for eating fish and finishing the 5th season.

Parade Carnival Cologne Weiberfastnacht

Where to go at “Weiberfastnacht”?

On the 11th of November, you will find most of the people in the old town. The famous carnival bands will open the season at the “Heumarkt” or “Altermarkt”.

You have to be early at those squares to get a good spot. As it is free, everyone wants to be there. Be aware that no glass bottles are allowed! After the musical highlights and drinking a couple of beers, you go to a pub. Which one? That depends on you! All students celebrate in the pubs in “Südstadt”. The pub, ”Zum Goldenen Schuss”, has a wide choice of drinks, fair prices, a great atmosphere and cool people.

Gaffel am Dom is also famous for its great parties for all ages!”

Gaffel am Dom, Parade, Carnival Cologne, Weiberfastnacht

Personally, I like the parties at the “Alten Wartesaal”. It is always great fun, and resides very close to the main train station, which makes it easy to get home.

The biggest carnival session will be on the 12th of November, this year, at the Kölnarena. Even if the tickets are around 30€, it is worth it! You will experience cologne carnival just within a few hours; all well-known carnival bands will be on stage, as well as carnival speakers and the best carnival dancing groups! I am sure that you will love it!

Parade Carnival Cologne Weiberfastnacht

What to eat?

Typical and traditional food in Cologne:

  • Himmel un Ääd (Heaven and Earth) – a mixture of mashed potatoes and apple pieces
  • Kölsche Kaviar – Not real caviar 😉 It is black pudding, rye oll and onions
  • Flönz – sausage and black pudding
  • Rheinisher Soorbrode – beef dish with a sauce of raisins, dumpling and red cabbage
  • Halver Hahn – Rye Roll with Dutch cheese, butter and mustard
  • Mett – MY FAVORITE!!! Ground pork with onions on a roll

Koelsch beer, served in 0,2 litre glasses, is a light ale and only brewed in Cologne. So don’t forget to try it!

Basically, all breweries such as “Früh”, “Sion”, “Malzmühle” etc. serve local food and are worth taking note of. They are also inexpensive. Once a year, I always visit brewery “Päffgen” and I love it!

Although the waiters, also known as “Köbes” in Cologne, aren’t the nicest, the atmosphere is always great!

What to wear?

Don’t worry if you have no costume yet. There a loads of shops in the city where you can buy a costume. Deiters, for example, has a wide range of costumes.

Köln Karneval, Karnevalskostüm


As a woman, you should always be careful. The shorter, the more dangerous it will be! 😉

Have you always wanted to dress up as super hero, clown or princess? If yes, carnival in Cologne will be the right place for you!

To get into the right mood & to know one traditional song, listen to “Viva Colonia”.

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