For more than 30 years, Cologne has seen music enthusiasts flock to the Fühlinger See lake area every year for a weekend of Caribbean flair, with reggae, hip-hop and dancehall tunes. The first weekend of July attracts 30,000 festival-goers from all over Europe, and tickets for the 2018 Summerjam Festival are selling out fast again. Several national and international top acts have already been confirmed for the 2018 lineup, including Bob Marley’s eldest son Ziggy Marley, The Skints, Milky Chance and Germany’s Dendemann.
In addition to its historical sights, imposing cathedral and a multitude of brewhouses, Cologne and its people are known for the joyous mentality that manifests itself at the annual Carnival celebrations. Millions flock to the city for the main events in February, but locals can’t seem to get enough of the cheerful songs and fancy dress-extravaganzas and came up with the Jeck im Sunnesching event, which revives the Carnivalesque spirit on September 1.
Cologne claims the title of being Germany’s gay capital, and the liberal, life-affirming and tolerant outlook on life comes to light when the entire city joins their LGBTQ+ peers for the Gay Pride celebrations in July. The many gay bars in Cologne’s so-called Bermudadreieck area and the Old Town host a ton of events for the three-day-long festival before thousands come together for the Sunday parade through town.
The street food hype has conquered just about every major city in Europe, and Cologne is no exception. On the weekend of May 5-6, the most popular food trucks from across the region roll onto the Helios grounds in Ehrenfeld to bring food trends from sushi and poké bowls, to pulled pork burgers and Eifel beef steaks, to vegan tacos to the neighbourhood. The whole shebang is accompanied by DJ sets, live music and drinks.
If you don’t want to wait around until New Year’s Eve to witness fireworks, Cologne has the right event in store for you. Since 2001, the Kölner Lichter spectacle illuminates Cologne’s skyline with a jaw-dropping fireworks display that is synchronised to music. Large crowds gather along the banks of the Rhine River to watch decorated boats float down the river, and firecrackers shoot up and fill the sky with neon colours.
Street food, watersports and music are the ingredients that make up the cannot-lose recipe of the annual Eat Play Love Festival, which takes place at the Fühlinger See lake. Between July 26 and 29, food trucks bring international and local delicacies to the lakeside meadows, while the country’s best wakeboarders compete for the annual national champion title. Various artists and DJs accompany the event with electronic music, old-school hip hop, reggae and funk and soul beats throughout the weekend.
For the first time, Cologne will join several other German cities for the Lange Nacht des Yoga (long night of yoga) on June 23. Across the city, 28 yoga studios will open their doors from 5pm to 11pm for a series of classes, workshops and lectures. For a flat fee of €20, you can join every single one of the events that night, and all proceeds from the festival are being donated to social yoga-related projects, such as yoga classes for refugees.