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Cologne: a city bursting with life.

Every Cologne resident has more than their fair share of zest for life and partying spirit – it's in their DNA. After all, Cologne is more than just a city – it is a matter of the heart, an emotion and an unfalteringly positive state of mind. At the root of this outlook are carnival, kölsch beer and, of course, Cologne Cathedral.

When you hear cheers of "Kölle alaaf" across Cologne, it can mean only one thing: the mayhem of carnival has arrived (or Fastelovend as it's also known). 'Completely crazy' or 'out of its mind' don't even come close to describing the scenes in the cathedral city the week before Ash Wednesday. Carnival season begins in Cologne on 11 November at 11.11am and finishes on Ash Wednesday as it does everywhere else in Germany. But that's where the similarities end. As everyone can see, Cologne carnival is in a league of its own, especially in the final week when the street carnival has the city firmly in its grip. To experience Cologne's unique exuberance at any other time of year, drop in to one of the traditional and welcoming bars in the area around Alter Markt and Heumarkt square or the large brewery taverns scattered throughout the old quarter. Kölsch – the city's signature beer – never stops flowing there, the kitchens dish up Rhineland specialities and there is so much friendly and light-hearted revelry you would think it were carnival all year round. Every type of kölsch has its own distinctive flavour – and, of course, its own brewery. The beer waiters, known as Köbes, remain immune to the general merriment: a certain gruffness is the hallmark of a genuine Köbes. The only thing that can dim the exuberance of Cologne's residents lies some 30 kilometres up the river Rhine in the form of Düsseldorf, whose reserved character couldn't be more different to Cologne's wild exuberance.

The scores of clubs, pubs, bars and restaurants in the city are heaving with locals and tourists, young people and students, particularly at the weekends. Popular haunts are the student district Kwartier Latäng, Friesenviertel, Belgisches Viertel, Südstadt and – increasingly – Ehrenfeld, traditionally an industrial quarter. Prices are surprisingly reasonable, especially for a city of this size. But it's not just carnival, bars and breweries. Cologne's vibrant arts and music scene also encapsulates the city's lust for life. The Cologne Musical Dome is the city's biggest theatre, with 1,700 seats, and is famed for its spectacular productions. Then there's Christopher Street Day, Germany's largest event for the gay and lesbian community. Alternatively, a home match for the city's Bundesliga football team never fails to entertain – even if the club's position in the league table doesn't always live up to the fans' high hopes.

Something guaranteed to surpass expectations, however, is the city's museum scene, in particular the magnificent Ludwig Museum which features works by Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein. There's also the Romano-Germanic Museum, where the exhibits span 2,000 years of history, the Wallraf Richartz Museum, with art from the Middle Ages through to the 19th century, and the chocolate museum for sweet-toothed visitors. If the culture and excitement of Cologne takes its toll and you need some time to relax, head to Rhine Park, one of the largest and prettiest in the city. Locals describe this park on the eastern bank of the Rhine as being on the 'wrong' side of the river. Nevertheless, you can get over there on the cable car. And if, after all that, you still have some time to spare, why not head to KölnTriangle? At a height of 100 metres, the observation deck offers probably the best view of Cologne old town and its . On a fine day, you might even see as far as Düsseldorf – just don't tell your friends in Cologne!

City Highlights

True Cologners are quite literally overcome with emotion when they glimpse the spires of Cologne cathedral in the distance on returning from their travels. The city's famous landmark is one of the largest churches in Europe and one of Germany's top attractions, with more than six million people visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site every year. At approximately 157 metres in height, the Gothic cathedral has the second tallest church spire in Europe and houses the shrine of the Three Wise Men. Another highlight at the cathedral since 2007 is the window by artist Gerhard Richter. For the modest admission price of €4 you can climb one of the two towers and the effort is rewarded by a fabulous panoramic view. Read more

There are plenty of good reasons why Cologne is known as the carnival capital of Germany. During what is known as the 'fifth season of the year', the people of Cologne really let their hair down. Locals and visitors from all walks of life come together to enjoy a few drinks and have a party. The highlight is the Rose Monday procession on the Monday before Lent. This is the culmination of the carnival season, which officially starts on 11 November at 11.11am. The city goes wild for many days after the women's carnival. Everyday life grinds to a halt and the city is taken over by the Prince, the Peasant and the Virgin, Cologne's highest-ranking representatives during the crazy carnival celebrations.

For those wishing to admire – and perhaps purchase – outstanding works of art, Art Cologne is just the event. The world's foremost exhibition of modern and contemporary art demonstrates the prowess of the European and overseas art trade. Around 200 international galleries present painting, sculpture, installations, videos, photography and works on paper as well as editions and multiples. Art Cologne also features unusual presentation formats such as 'Open Space', talent-nurturing programmes, 'New Positions' for artists and 'New Contemporaries' for galleries.

The Chocolate Museum has approximately 2,000 exhibits, making it a memorable experience for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Visitors are taken on a journey spanning 3,000 years of chocolate history. The chocolate production area located at the tip of the museum is one of its highlights. Stretching across two levels, it shows visitors how bars of chocolate, truffles and hollow figures are made. Near the museum entrance there is a three-metre high chocolate fountain filled with melted, velvety chocolate – everyone can dip a waffle into it. At this museum, visitors can not only see the exhibits, but also smell, taste and touch them!

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Every spring, the who's who of contemporary literature comes together at lit.COLOGNE. There’s a wide-ranging children's programme as well.
Lit.Cologne is a literature lover’s paradise. Every spring, the who's who of contemporary literature comes together. The Cologne festival unreservedly ranges from highbrow culture to best-sellers to light reading. Nobel laureates feature just as much as non-fiction stars or authors of crime novels. Since its inception in 2001, the event has developed into the largest literary festival in Europe.

Upcoming dates:

19.03.2019 - 30.03.2019

Venue

Köln
Appellhofplatz 1
50667 Cologne

All information on prices, dates and opening times are subject to change without notice.

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