Carnival (or Karneval here in Cologne) is a relatively international concept / celebration from what I have understood. Nothing, however, could have prepared me for the events that occurred between the 8th and the 14th of February 2018.
Brief History Lesson: After talking to a handful of (intoxicated) locals, the story I have come away with is as follows. The celebration of Karneval in Cologne represents the cleansing of the surroundings before spring time. They’re basically chasing the creatures of winter away by dressing up in crazy fancy dress and dancing the night away for one week straight (not an exaggeration, the whole city was put on hold for a week). It starts big and ends bigger, to say the least.
I was unfortunately a bit ill when it began, missing the official start (was sipping some tea in bed) but catching up soon after over the weekend. A couple of friends from a bit all over the place (ranging from Berlin to Paris) came up (or down) to Cologne for some quality party time. We mingled and danced and enjoyed and slept as a consequence.
Conveniently enough, the Karneval took place smack when I was done with any and all academic commitments for the semester. It truly did mark the transition that the Kolsch people celebrate every year – and I would without a doubt say that this is something everyone should experience at least once in their life!
The end of the celebration was probably my favourite part simply because it embodied the traditional aspect of the Karneval. We were given massive candles and walked through the city streets, singing traditional Kolsch songs and ending up in one of the many squares of Cologne. A local then recited the texts, and a band played live music (to which everybody was singing along with – cue goosebumps). We then lit a big barrel on fire, where two ‘snowmen’ (made of hay) met the end of their days (pretty weird, but strangely satisfying).
With that wrapped up and sealed away with all the other strangely amazing memories of Cologne, I packed my bags and flew to Malta – marking the beginning of a string of adventures till the start of my next semester in Cologne. I will be in Malta for a little while, then traveling around Germany meeting some friends, and then back to good ol’ France (home) to see the family and do a quick road-trip to the coast. I’m looking forward to it.
I hope all is well with anybody reading this, and please do let me know if there is anything specific you would like to read about! More pictures are on my Instagram, including daily clips of what I get up to (@alex_laval). Until next time!