Cologne is one of Germany’s main cultural hubs, regularly drawing newcomer bands and international megastars to its stages. One of Cologne’s most iconic venues, Underground, shut down after nearly 30 years last week, leaving a void in the live music scene. The good news is that the city has plenty of others to offer – here’s our pick of the best.
The Tanzbrunnen is an open-air venue in Cologne. The outdoor event and leisure park on the right side of the Rhine river holds roughly 12,500 people. In the summer months, bands play on the open-air stage, the music drifting across the 89,500-square-feet area to the neighbouring Rheinpark. From the front terraces, you also have an excellent view of Cologne’s skyline.
Tanzbrunnen, Rheinparkweg 1, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 8212 121
The Gloria theatre in central Cologne has a 60-year history of (pornographic) film screenings, wild parties, comedy festivals and concerts. Today, it’s one of the city’s hippest nightclubs, but the location is still used for all kinds of events, including lectures during lit.Cologne and concerts. Coldplay, Oasis, Kings of Leon and the Foo Fighters have all performed here in recent years.
Gloria, Apostelnstraße 11, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 6606 30
The Protestant church in the Cologne Nippes quarter was built in 1889 and is one the few examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the city. Today, it’s not only a place of worship but also a space for cultural events. Throughout the year, people congregate here for lectures, comedy events and acoustic concerts.
Kulturkirche, Siebachstraße 85, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9731 0325
The Palladium in Mülheim boasts a set of versatile rooms under one roof. Besides an elegant foyer and conference room, the largest space is occasionally used for gala events and business conventions but mainly hosts concerts. The main hall fits 4,000 people, and its stage has seen music artists from all genres. Next up are Angus and Julia Stone, Royal Blood and Alt-J.
Palladium, Schanzenstraße 36, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9679 0
The E-Werk holds 2,000 people and is the sister venue to the Palladium just across the street. In 1989, Cologne band BAP purchased the former electricity plant and, together with their business partners, invested millions to renovate the building to create a new event space. The heritage-protected location hosts hundreds of events each year. Bush, Weezer and The War on Drugs are all due to play here in the coming months.
E-Werk, Schanzenstraße 37, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9679 0
Live Music Hall
Artists from all genres have played at Live Music Hall, Ehrenfeld’s biggest venue since it opened in 1990. Most play on the ground floor which fits 1,200 people, but the smaller upstairs room offers a stage for newcomers. Regular club nights have something for everyone, whether it’s nineties pop songs and classic rock anthems on a Friday or Saturday’s hardcore, death metal and grindcore.
Live Music Hall, Lichtstraße 30, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9542 990
In 1992, an events company moved into the rooms of the abandoned factory in Cologne Deutz, retaining its industrial charm. Since then, revellers come to Essig Fabrik to rave through the night to techno and electro sounds in the smaller basement room or join 800 others for rock, metal or indie gigs in the larger hall upstairs.
Essig Fabrik, Siegburger Str. 110, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9974 272
Located in the beautiful park of the same name, the Stadtgarten venue is known for hosting more than 400 cultural events each year. There are two rooms in this venue, with the larger having a capacity for 400 people and the smaller for 200 – both host a range of contemporary musicians. The focus is on jazz, but newcomers of experimental pop and rock perform here too. On party nights, electro, funk and soul sound through the rooms.
Stadtgarten, Venloer Str. 40, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9529 940
The gritty punk rock bar is located on the edge of Cologne’s Ehrenfeld quarter. People come to Sonic Ballroom to get their fix of punk, hardcore and rockabilly, along with cheap beer and a shot of Kettenfett. Undiscovered and lesser-known bands from all over the world play the stage four nights a week, and people also come here to hang out in the beer garden or belt out their favourite rock songs at Karaoke ‘Till Death.
Sonic Ballroom, Oskar-Jäger-Straße 190, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 1691 8894
The Luxor opened in 1982, also being known as Prime Club in subsequent years. The club has seen countless indie, pop and rock bands play the tunnel-like room in front of some 400 people. The music on club nights ranges from rock and alternative to party classics.
Luxor, Luxemburger Str. 40, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 221 9244 60
With a capacity of 18,000 people, the Lanxess Arena is one of the biggest venues in all of Europe. It hosts the home games of the local ice hockey team, as well gigs from national and international pop and rock stars. Metallica, Deep Purple, Elton John, Phil Collins and Drake have all played here this year.
Lanxess Arena, Willy-Brandt-Platz 3, Cologne, Germany +49 (0) 0221 8021