Magnetising people since the Romans first arrived in 38 BC: step out of your Cologne hotel, amble narrow, old town cobblestone streets packed with candy-coloured buildings and you’ll soon be confronted with the city’s geographic and spiritual heart. For 800 years Cologne’s cathedral has soared over the skyline protecting a wealth of bejewelled antiquities within its vast hushed interiors. For more recent art treasures, you’ll find the Museum Ludwig next door offers captivating world class displays by the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Picasso.But Cologne doesn’t rest on its cultural and historical laurels. If you’re visiting between November and February you’ll find this national hub for the media and arts also knows how to party hard. This is carnival season when over a million people hit the streets in an array of spectacular fancy dress parades. Be warned, not only will the hotels in Cologne be busy, but men dressed for business may find they’re approached by costumed scissor-wielding women intent on cutting off their ties. Fear not, along with a ‘Butzie’ (festive kiss), it’s all a humorous tradition during Women’s Carnival Day. Amongst this long season of frolicking, Cologne also turns itself into a giant Santa’s grotto during December when its old town streets fill with the twinkling lights, festive songs and the spiced wine aromas of its Christmas markets. It’s a magical time of year to visit.Whatever the time of year, finish-off your busy day with a taste of Cologne’s eclectic nightlife. Sample potent Kölsch ale in a boisterous old town beer hall or molecular cocktails with hipsters and media folk in the chilled-out bars around Rudolfplatz and Belgian Quarter. Like your day, come nightfall you’ll find this creative and vivacious city just as rewardingly diverse.
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