Carnival in Cologne

From Saturday-Monday I was Carnival-ing in Bonn and Cologne. In case you’re like me and Carnival is all new to you, it’s a few days of parties, parades, and general merriment before Ash Wednesday kicking off Lent. Cologne hosts the biggest Carnival celebration in Germany. And I was all up in it.

On Saturday, we hit up a small, local parade. It lasted about 20 minutes and was great fun. Sunday we went to a bigger Bonn parade. For any of my Bradentonians, it was quite similar in size to the Desoto Parade, around 1.5 hours. Monday we went to the mother of all Carnivals in Cologne. It was a five hour parade and wow…

Below are some facts and observations I made throughout my Carnival celebrations:

  1. EVERYONE dresses up. Not just kids and college students.
  2. No beads. Candy, little toys, and flowers (if you’re lucky) are where it’s at.
  3. Showing some cleavage makes getting flowers easier. Red lip stick doesn’t hurt either. Don’t ask me how I know that.
  4. Beer is always appropriate. 3:00 PM, 10:00 PM, 9:30 AM, every time is a good time for a brewski.
  5. If you’re a real pro, you’ll have a cup hanging from your neck so you can go hands free with your beer.
  6. You should be learning the songs that go along with Carnival from a young age. I missed the memo. They’re still fun, though.
  7. Be prepared at any moment to lock arms with the people on either side of you (stranger or no) and dance.
  8. Also be prepared at any moment to yell “Alaaf!” three times in a row. *Note: This changes depending on the region you’re in. DON’T screw it up.
  9. Clowns are always in style. Pirates too. (I was a pirate. I like to conform.)
  10. Riding the train into Cologne on the day of the big parade is really a fun sight to see.
  11. Getting back to the train at the end of the day is almost an equally fun sight to see. Much less excitement. Many more looks of exhaustion and drunkenness with a smidgen of regret thrown in here and there.
  12. Even when not actually at a parade, Carnival time is party time. Be prepared to socialize. A lot. Social anxiety be damned.
  13. Different parts of Germany celebrate Carnival differently and some don’t celebrate it at all. It’s actually really crazy how strikingly different the cultures are in different regions here.
  14. You can get really pretty painted hard boiled eggs and they are delicious.
  15. Standing for five hours is not nearly as tiring as you would think when you’re having fun, eating candy (gotta keep that blood sugar up!), and drinking a moderate amount of beer. Have I mentioned beer enough in this post? I sure hope so.

So that is what I experienced condensed into a very small nutshell. There are of course about 3,000 other things that happened but I think for those 3,000 things you kind of just had to be there.

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

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My good friend, the Cologne Cathedral.

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Saw this BEUT at the second parade. It had multiple Confederate flags and was surrounded by cowboys and Native Americans. I fear that flag will follow me wherever I go in life.