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Beverlyheels StyleFestivals: The Cologne Carnival

Festivals: The Cologne Carnival

Posted on Thu, May 30th, 2019

The Cologne Carnival is held every year in Cologne, Germany. Traditionally, the carnival season is declared open at eleven minutes past eleven on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, that is, November. The Carnival spirit picks up after the sixth of January in the New Year. It is then declared that merrymaking is officially open at downtown square ‘After Market’ on Thursday before the beginning of Lent. Street carnival, a week-long festival also called ‘the crazy days’, takes place between Fat Thursday and Ash Wednesday. The highlight of the carnival is Rose Monday (also known as Shrove Monday), two days before Ash Wednesday. All through these days, people in Cologne go out masqueraded.

Every year during the carnival, three people are granted the titles of Jungfrau, Prince, and Bauer (maiden, prince and peasant respectively), who pay a large sum of money for the privileges. The Carnival prince is the highest representative of the festivities and leads the parades throughout the week. His float is the final one in the large parade on Shrove Monday. Traditionally, the Maiden (Her Loveliness) is always portrayed by a man dressed as a female. This tradition started way back in 1820s. It symbolizes the patron mother Colonia. But in 1936, the Nazis ordered the role to be played by a woman only. However, the dictum was reversed by 1943. The peasant bears the title of 'Siene Deftigkeit' (His Heftyness). As Cologne is a large city, the peasant must be a stately guy. He expresses the boldness of the old privileged imperial city of Cologne.

The official carnival, with its parades, balls, and stage shows, is the main event during the Carnival. Alongside, there are many autonomous carnival events throughout the city’s bars, clubs and local communities, including a leftist comedy show that caricatures the official carnival Sitzungen in style, poking fun at both traditional carnival as well as politics. There are a lot of parades in the city districts, a 'ghost parade' on Saturday evening and a colorful parade of the Cologne schools and smaller carnival clubs on carnival Saturday. This carnival sees more than one million spectators on the street.

What you wear to the Carnival depends on which character you decide to be for the day. For example, you can don onesies with animal heads, use colors like neon, and wear shoulder pads and mohawks. Character costumes such as the Kolner Jeck, is the most common carnival costume for older people, where you can put on some variation of a red and white striped shirt. And the more sparkly the better. You’ll also notice a lot of people walking around in Prussian soldier costume that includes high leather boots, breeches, a tricorn hat and a white curly wig. The cutest costume is the clown costume consisting of tailcoats with bright polka dots, big colorful wigs and painted face. No matter which character you select, go to to check out the attire of your choice.

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