It’s nearly impossible for me to adequately describe Karneval to someone who has never experienced it.
I could say that nearly everyone in the city dresses in costume Thursday through Tuesday. Which is true. My favorite thing is seeing someone’s 80+ year old Opa wearing a red sponge clown nose, or a granny with her hair spiked and dyed Cologne red.
Or that there are parties (OH ARE THERE PARTIES) where they play seemingly the same fifteen songs over and over again but it just doesn’t matter. There is something about Karneval music that warms my heart and makes me jump around like a fool and sway with the rest of them, regardless of the fact that I rarely know any of the words.
But in the end, it’s the atmosphere that really makes it. The smile that creeps across my face anytime I see a man dressed as a woman (why this is such a popular costume, I have no idea), random shouts of “Alaaf!” during those six glorious days, the weird traditions that I do not understand (even when they are explained to me) and all the ‘new friends’ that are made, only to be forgotten by the next day.
It’s this time of year that makes me feel like I never want to leave Cologne. (Give it a few weeks, my mind will change… it always does!)
(I made those Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes myself. I’m awesome, I know)