We’re back home from our whirlwind trip to Cologne and its magnificent cathedral (see photo on left). Carnival was as good if not better than I remembered from 10 years ago. Wander along any street at any time of day or night and you come upon a bar where carnival songs are playing and people in fancy dress are singing, dancing, jumping up and down and generally having a good time.
Cologne Carnival is an explosion of colour, music, feasting, drinking and general merry-making and, if there’s any town in Europe that should be designated official party town, it’s Cologne.
This time around we had a specific mission, to watch the parades and collect as many sweets, chocolates, gifts and flowers as possible. We had plenty of opportunity as there are two huge processions in Cologne. On Sunday, there’s the School and Youth Club Carnival and on Monday, the official Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) Carnival. Both parades took about 5-6 hours to pass by where we were standing so it’s an all-day experience for participants and spectators.
We made new friends, met up with old friends, joined in Carnival songs and caught bagfuls of sweets, chocolates and gifts that are thrown from the floats or given out for free. The many Carnival Clubs in Cologne and from the surrounding villages work hard all year to ensure that the bounty is plentiful. My daughter learnt how to shout “karamellen” (sweets), to sing along to “Koelle Alaaf” (3 Cheers to Cologne) and that a kiss was required if you wanted to receive one of the many thousands of flowers.
Tired but happy, we flew home on Monday night. One small girl collected 3 carrier bags full of sweets, chocolates and toys that were somehow squeezed in to our hand luggage and asked, “Can we come again next year?”
[photo of Cologne Cathedral by flickr.com/photos/andreasheyden]