Karneval am Altermarkt

Carnival in Cologne

Cologne`s »fifth season«, world-famous as a colourful, joyous celebration, annually attracts around one million visitors into the city.

The Three Mad Days are the end and climax of Cologne Carnival. The time of merry-making in the streets is officially declared open at Alter Markt on the Thursday before the beginning of Lent.
Pubs stay open till the early hours of the morning, and the spirit of Carnival reigns in the streets and public squares, in offices and at home, and above all in places for dancing and drinking. The following Sunday belongs to processions through the streets, organised by local schools and the different districts of the city and watched by hundreds of thousands of people. The real highlight is the next day, »Rosenmontag« (Rose Monday), the day of the big Carnival procession with the three chief Carnival figures, Prince, Peasant and Maiden. Each year’s procession tries to outdo that of the year before in colourfulness, witty ideas and gay costumes. Scores of decorated floats with huge figures parodying topical events, about 130 bands, hundreds of horses, brightly clad groups - all passing through streets packed tightly with millions of people cheering and calling out for sweets and little bunches of flowers which are thrown in tons and ten thousands to the merry-makers.

Rose Monday

The day on which Rose Monday, the chief day of Carnival, falls depends on the date of Easter. Carnival Sunday, the day before Rose Monday, is the seventh Sunday before Easter. On both Carnival Sunday and Rose Monday, motor traffic is banned throughout large sections of the city centre. No vehicles may be parked along the procession route. Those without a grandstand seat or access to a convenient window are advised to secure themselves a roadside position in good time. KölnTourismus Board issues a map of the route well in advance, and also flyers on the »Crazy Days«.