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6 Famous Traditions in Cologne you need to know about!

Famous traditions in Cologne

Cologne is a german city full of famous traditions and events. For the people of Cologne they are really important so if you want to know more about this big city, just read the article!


Carnival, probably the most famous tradition in Cologne and often called the “Fifth season of the year” ,takes place every year and starts on November 11th at 11:11 a.m. From then on there will be events, parties, get-togethers etc. The real “Crazy days” start at Thursday, the so called “Weiberfastnacht”. From then on, carnival is celebrated with parties on the streets, in public squares and in pubs. On Saturday the gathering of colorful Corps troops can be seen at the Neumarkt. On Sunday school groups and borough parades take place all over the city. The highlight of the street carnival is “Rosen Montag”, Rose Monday. Then there will be a march of “Cologne’s Dreigestirn” or Triumvirate – the Prince, the Peasant and the Maiden – in the kilometer-long Rosenmontag procession going trough the city. The Carnival event ends two days later, on Ash Wednesday.

Christopher street day

Cologne is famous for their name as Europe’s center for gay and lesbian life. For the LGB community, the most important event is the Christopher Street day (CSD). The event takes place every year on the first weekend of July. Half a million participants and visitors celebrate and demonstrate in the city center.

Christmas markets

From the 25th of November until the 23rd of December, the city center of Cologne is touched by the magic of the festivities in the run-up to Christmas. The event is famous over whole Europe as it attracts a lot of tourists. Christmas music, arts and crafts, toys, Christmas decorations and the scent of the Christmas bakeries create a wonderful atmosphere. It is not just children’s eyes that light up when pewter pourers, wreath binders and glassblowers demonstrate their art, and the aroma of mulled wine, hot chocolate, hot chestnuts and gingerbread fills the air. Although you can find Christmas markets everywhere in Cologne. Here I summed up the greatest and most famous Christmas markets in Cologne:

Alter Market

Angel’s Market

Cathedral X-Mas Market

Gay and Lesbian Christmas Market

Harbour Market


Village of St. Nicholas

Nativity scenes


Cologne Lights, famous family event!

In mid-July, the “Kölner Lichter” light up the sky in flames between the Hohenzollern and Zoo bridges. The impressive firework display is synchronized with music and transforms the view of the Rhine into a colorful sea of banyan lights, waterfalls and hundreds of thousands of sparklers. Every year a new musical score is composed for this major event. A huge convoy of ships marks the crowning final of a colorful celebration, which has taken its course during the day in the Old Town. In the afternoon, river cruises at the South of Cologne will be setting sail for the Old Town, passing nine fireworks and colorful Bengal fires.

Towards 11:30 p.m. the time has come to admire a feast for the eyes and ears: from a pontoon in the middle of the Rhine in front of the Old Town scenario, the international fireworks display with synchronized music will be launched.


The world’s largest computer games trade show “Gamescom” takes place in the end of august in Cologne. Numerous new game products and hardware innovations will be showcased at the Cologne trade fair. Visitors can test out the games even before their release. More than 300.000 visitors will come to the cathedral city in order to experience the world’s largest event for interactive entertainment live. Numerous international market leaders and well-known companies in the computer and video games industry show their new products at the Cologne fairgrounds.

May tree

Example of a wooden hart in the May tree.
Example of a wooden hart in the May tree

For hundreds of years in the region around Cologne, Bonn and Aachen, young men have traditionally placed a so called “Maibaum” or decorated birch tree in their beloved’s yard in the night before May 1st. The May tree custom was originally part of an old tradition called Mailehenbrauh. This was a form of village mathmaking dating back to the 17th century. It involved “Loaning” the unmarried young women of the village to the bachelors for a certain period. All the unmarried young women in the village were auctioned off to the unmarried young men and each pair became a May couple. Whoever paid the highest price was the May King and he had the corresponding May Queen. But there were very specific rules attached. Each May groom was required to put up a tree decorated with colorful ribbons for the May bride as part of this custom. And this tradition stuck in many Rhineland villages until today. The actual purpose of if was mostly been forgotten. One of the fundamental ideas for the May auction was to regulate the village marriage market. It was an attempt to promote marriage within the village. In order to maintain the rural structures in these regions, young people were supposed to be kept from marrying far away from home. Today the May festivities seldom result in wedlock. But they’re still popular for flirting and as a place for singles to meet. For young men in the region, cutting down a May tree for their beloved is about more than just making her happy. It’s the music and the beer, having fun with your friends while walking around in the woods and cutting down a tree. Nowadays it is forbidden in Cologne to cut the tree in the woods. Now you can buy a tree a different place’s in the city and surprise your girl with it. But be careful, you must put the tree at night in front of the house. And it is possible that your tree can be stolen by other guys, therefore you need to watch it until the sun rises. I tried it this year, but at half past 4 a called it a day, the next morning at seven I looked out of the window to see if the tree was still there, and yes it was. After my girlfriend woke up and she saw the nice decorated the tree, she was the happiest girl on earth.

Example of a may tree
Cologne is famous for it’s traditions. Example of a May tree

Do you want to buy a tree next year and surprise your girlfriend? Then go to this site and see where in Cologne you can buy the trees.