Bonn celebrates with the Rhine in Flames but Cologne hosts the Cologne Lights, one of Europe's most beautiful and most spectacular musical fireworks displays, right in the middle of the Rhine – an atmospheric extravaganza that will light up your eyes and bring joy to your heart.
It's carnivaltime! In Cologne, the biggest city in North Rhine-Westphalia, people like to party as if there's no tomorrow. Cologne Carnival is evidence of this, as are the Cologne Lights, a must-see highpoint in the city's calendar since 2001. With Cologne's eminently quaffable kölsch beer being served from 2012 onwards, the atmosphere is set to ratchet up yet another notch. A glass of kölsch is the perfect afternoon refresher as you soak up the musical entertainment at the Tanzbrunnen. Where better to while away the time before the start of the fireworks, which are ushered in by the breathtaking spectacle of 50 gloriously illuminated ships? These glide along the Rhine before being greeted by a curtain of fire and excited spectators waving hundreds of thousands of sparklers as the flotilla swings round at Deutz Bridge. The main fireworks display, which is then launched from a 240-metre pontoon formation and lasts a full thirty minutes, is a dazzling synthesis of fireworks and music, experienced not only by around a million spectators on both riverbanks but also by some lucky people who have 'box seats' on the ships themselves. To secure one of those coveted on-board tickets, you'll need to book a year in advance. Because Cologne people really do like to party, whether on the Rhine itself or on its riverbanks.