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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!

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Upheaval and avant garde, form and functionality, rigour and beauty: modernism is a broad term that has shaped an entire century and remains influential today. Hardly any other museum has concentrated as exclusively on this era as Cologne's Ludwig Museum, whose collection starts in the early 20th century and traces developments right to the present day in remarkable breadth and depth.

The history of this fascinating museum, which together with the Philharmonic Hall has occupied an architecturally striking building right next to Cologne Cathedral since 1986, began with Peter and Irene Ludwig's endowment of around 350 works of modern art. Within a few decades, it had grown into the biggest collection of Pop Art outside the USA including Roy Lichtenstein's Maybe and Andy Warhol's Brillo Boxes. In addition to the Pop Art, today it owns the third-largest Picasso collection worldwide and an extensive collection of Russian avant garde from before and after the revolution, as well as important works of German Expressionism and Surrealism. Artistic movements such as Bauhaus and De Stijl, Nouveau Réalisme and Fluxus bring us to the contemporary art which the museum resolutely acquired, the most recent piece never being more than a few months old. German art of the 1970s and 1980s and installations by the younger avant garde therefore also found their way into the Ludwig Museum, completing the survey of the intriguing era of modernism through contemporary works.

Upcoming dates:

21.09.2019 - 19.01.2020

12.10.2019 - 02.02.2020

16.11.2019 - 01.03.2020

Venue

Museum Ludwig
Bischofsgartenstraße
50667 Cologne

All information on prices, dates and opening times are subject to change without notice.
The start of the new carnival season is celebrated by revellers on the 11th day of the 11th month at 11.11 a.m.
The designated “Dreigestirn” (triple star) have their first public appearance on a big stage in the Old City of Cologne - in plain clothes at this time.

Upcoming dates:

11.11.2019

Venue

Stadt Köln
Heumarkt 14
50667 Cologne

All information on prices, dates and opening times are subject to change without notice.
Set against the backdrop of the cathedral (Dom), Cologne’s landmark, the Christmas market “am Dom” presents craftsmen in 160 pavilions. The cathedral is not only here as a real building, but also as in ‘Dom-Speculatius’. The Neumarkt (new market) leads us into the realm of angels. 
In the warm light of the starry Christmas sky, we can wonder at the elaborately designed houses with artistically decorated gables, and an angel darts by from time to time. There’s a fairytale paradise for children on the Rudolfplatz. while things are more rustic in the historic old town, in the "Markt der Heinzel", which is dedicated to the ‘Heinzelmännchen’, the house gnomes from a famous Cologne legend. You will also be surprised by a romantic Christmas village idyll in the Cologne City Gardens (Stadtgarten). And, located directly on the Rhine, by the Chocolate Museum, you can immerse yourself in the maritime flair of the Harbour Christmas Market in the Rheinauhafen. Handicrafts related to the subjects of ports and sea voyages can be found in the pagoda tents, which are shaped like ships’ sails, and you can enjoy mulled wine (Glühwein) and the sailors in the “Trudel”, a three-masted wooden ship. Fall into the spirit of a real sailor’s Christmas with shanties, Christmas classics, pirate juggling and much more. Newly established in Cologne, between the Sparkasse bank and Westgate on Rudolfplatz square, is Christmas Avenue, the gay and lesbian Christmas market with shows and variety entertainment.

Upcoming dates:

25.11.2019 - 23.12.2019

from 11:00 to 21:00

Venue

Weihnachtsmärkte in Köln
Innenstadt
50667 Cologne

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

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