Our Guide to the Kölner Karneval Cologne
by Kathrin Schmitz
Kölle Alaaf! That is how you might be greeted in Cologne where today, on the 11th November at 11.11 am, the official Karneval season begins. Karneval, also known as the fifth season, is a tradition that goes back to the middle ages. Although it has changed a lot over the years, the Kölner Karneval as we know it nowadays is one of the biggest celebrations worldwide.
On the 11.11. at 11.11 am the celebrations begin on the Old Market in Cologne with concerts of the most popular carnival bands like Brings, Bläck Fööss and De Höhner. From November onwards there are many Sitzungen (stage shows) with music, dancing and stand-up comedy. It is an unspoken obligation to dress up when you attend a stage show or go to one of the parades which start on Weiberfastnacht (Fat Thursday). The highlight of Karneval is the big street parade on Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) which is the biggest and one of the oldest parades in Germany. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world come to see the 8km long parade consisting of colourful floats and street groups.
What to Say
These are some important expressions you might want to know when celebrating with all the Jecke (fools) in Cologne:
Kölle Alaaf: certainly the most important one; this is how you greet everyone that comes along your way
Bützchen: if you’re not a fan of kisses on the cheek, you’d better hide during the parade
Kamelle: this is what you need to shout at the street parade so people from the floats throw you candy
Fastelovend: meaning carnival in Cologne dialect
If Karneval inspires you to visit Germany and pick up some useful German, Cactus Language has German language courses in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Cologne and a number of other German cities. To find out more information simply call us on 01273 830 960 or email us. Our multilingual team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
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