Carnival in Cologne is above all a festival of fancy dress. There are no limits to imagination: the brighter the better. Carnival costumes don't have to be "elegant", the important thing is to show your good intentions and to feel comfortable.
The "Kölner" wears a costume he can identify with, he likes to play the role he presents. Please note: for balls and other indoor events, thin costumes are recommended. For Carnival on the street, however, costumes must be tailored so that you can wear something warm underneath. The real carnival fan is not put off by the weather! Guests who arrive at the last minute will find masks, costumes and make-up in many stores in the city centre. As a last resort, a simple red paper nose is all you need. See photos of the common costumes
Each year in November, KölnTourismus publishes an informative brochure with the dates of all "Sitzungen" (balls). The range between "elegant" and "alternative" is extremely wide, so that there is something to suite every taste. Some renowned societies require evening dress at their major events, at others colourful costumes are the order of the day. Book your tickets way ahead, because many events sell out quickly. Admission prices might sometimes seems quite exorbitant. In fairness to the societies, however, it must be said that revenue from the events is often used for a good cause or goes into the financing of the parades.
The balls takes place from January to Ash Wednesday, when the Carnival ends. Varios parades are during the Crazy Days between Carnivals Thursday and Carnivals Tuesday also the famous parade on Rose Monday.
If, in an excess of good cheer, a Carnival fan gives you a "Bützje", you don't need to be scared. "Bützjer" are kisses made with pursed lips and have nothing in common with a real kiss. The "Bützje" is not the beginning of a seduction, but absolutely essential and common during Carnival. You should not be annoyed by it, in other words. On the contrary, be happy, because it shows you are accepted!
In general, people appear to make friends easier in the cheerful Carnival atmosphere. Many a long lasting relationship had its informal beginning between Weiberfastnacht and Ash Wednesday. Apart from that, morals during the Crazy Days are no better nor worse than at other times of the year. Anyone looking for an amorous adventure need not wait for Carnival. Photo: Joachim Rieger