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Cologne Carnival

It is believed that the origins of Carnival in Germany go back to pagan times when several spring festivals took place to mark the end of winter. When Christianity spread in Germany, the Catholic church saw these festivities as a perfect celebration before lent and the term carnival was introduced. Depending on the region you are in, you might hear different names for Carnival, Karneval, Fastnacht, Fasching or more local names as Fastelovend in Cologne. Every region in Germany celebrates Carnival but, in some regions, like in the Rheinland, carnival plays a significant role, Cologne, for instance, has the biggest celebration in the country. This comprehensive programme of sightseeing offers the opportunity to take part in these joyful celebrations; watch one of the highlights of Cologne Carnival, the Rose Monday (Rosenmontagszug) Parade attracting every year over one million spectators and attend a special Carnival Mass in Cologne. Visits include, the Schnütgen Museum, the UNESCO sites of Aachen Cathedral and Treasury, a Rhine River cruise and a city tour of the Altstadt (old town).

A visit to the Chocolate Museum is also included!


  1. London to Cologne

    Fly from London to Cologne. On arrival, we meet our local tour manager and transfer by coach to our four-star accommodation.  Hotel Mercure Köln Belfortstraβe for a six night stay. Dinner in the hotel.

  2. Cologne (B, D)

    After breakfast, we visit the Cologne Cathedral, an inspiring example of Gothic architecture which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Its construction began in 1248 but it took centuries to be completed. The cathedral houses remarkable masterpieces including the Gero crucifix from the late 10th century and the Europe’s largest reliquary shrine, the Shrine of the Magi. We then continue to the Museum Schnütgen, located in one of the Cologne’s oldest churches, to admire a precious collection of medieval works of art. Today we also have the opportunity to attend one of the public Sunday Masses. Lunch at own cost and dinner in the hotel.

  3. Rose Monday Parade (B, D)

    After breakfast, we witness one of the highlights of Cologne Carnival, the Rose Monday Parade (Rosenmontagszug). The route of this lively celebration winds through the city and its costumed performers, musical bands and elaborately designed satirical floats attract over a million of visitors each year.  Lunch at own cost and afternoon opportunity to attend a special Carnival Mass. This evening dinner is not included.

  4. Violet Tuesday Rhine (B, D)


    This morning, we explore Cologne’s picturesque waterways with a Rhine River cruise. We enjoy the main city’s landmarks, including the cathedral and the Hohenzollern bridge, before joining a walking guided tour of the old town (Altstadt). After some free time to purchase lunch (at own cost), we visit the Roman-Germanic Museum housing the world’s largest collection of Roman glass and numerous archeological finds providing an insight into daily life in ancient Roman Cologne. After dinner in the hotel, we witness a unique Cologne Carnival tradition that marks the end of the Carnival season, the ‘Burning of the Nubbel’ (Nubbelverbrennung). The nubbel, a straw puppet representing all the sins committed during the Carnival festivities, is burned in a bonfire outside many pubs and tavern across the city to provide a ‘collective’ absolution and a fresh start with the onset of Lent.

  5. Aachen (B, D)

    Drive to Aachen to enjoy its rich history and captivating architecture. We visit the stunning 8th century cathedral and its Treasury housing one of the most important collections of medieval artworks in Europe including the Persephone sarcophagus containing the remains of Charlemagne. We continue to the Town Hall and the Charlemagne Center to learn more about this legendary ruler.

    We return to Cologne for dinner in the hotel.

  6. Cologne (B, D)

    This morning, we visit the renowned art museum in Cologne, Museum Ludwig housing an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art, including works of Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein.  We end our morning at the Chocolate Museum (Schokoladenmuseum) to take a journey through the history of chocolate. Lunch at own cost. This afternoon is free to wander at your leisure and visit other places of interest. This evening a farewell dinner will be included at a local brewery.

  7. Home (B)

    We transfer to Cologne Airport for our return flight to London.

Essential Information

The price you pay is inclusive

The tour includes daily breakfast, four dinners and a farewell evening meal at a local brewery.

Touring is by air-conditioned coach and we will be accompanied by our tour guide who will look after the formalities of hotel check-ins, etc.

All entrance fees are included as well as gratuities; these will be disbursed locally to those who help us on our journey.


Flights, hotel accommodation, continental breakfast, dinners, excursion programme, entrance fees & guiding, gratuities.

Not Included

Single room supplement, travel insurance, lunches, drinks.

Passports, Visas & Health

A visa is not required by British and EU passport holders, but please do check that your passport is not out of date. If you are holding a passport from a non-EU country let us know and we will check whether a visa is required. We recommend that you keep your passport in your hotel room and do not carry it on excursions. No inoculations are recommended.

Travel Insurance

The McCabe recommended insurance policy is designed for the older traveller. The premium for a German pilgrimage is £49. Travellers over 75 pay £74 and we also recommend that older travellers obtain a note from their doctor stating that they are fit to travel. Do feel free to shop around as there are many suitable insurance options including annual policies on the market. We do insist that all travellers take out medical insurance.

A key feature of our recommended policy is that there is no requirement to call a Medical Help Line as most pre-existing conditions are covered.


The tour price also includes return flights to Germany, flying from London to Cologne. All airport and security charges are included.


We stay at the four star Mercure Hotel Köeln Belforstraβe located in the Agnes quarter of the city.


Practical information

Travelling Alone

Many of our passengers travel alone and object to expensive single room supplements. McCabe Pilgrimages will accept individual bookings on a 'guaranteed share' basis. We charge the basic price and accommodate you with a person of the same sex also requesting shared accommodation. If we do not find someone to share with you, you will be accommodated in a single room at only 50% of the usual single room supplement. For single travellers who do require single accommodation this should be requested when booking and, if available, the normal supplement will be payable.

The McCabe Educational Trust

For many, meeting the ‘Living Stones’ of The Land becomes a real highlight of their pilgrimage. The McCabe Educational Trust is an independent registered charity with the aim of helping inspiring people we meet on pilgrimage. On your pilgrimage you will meet some of these people. As ‘the haves’ encounter the ‘have nots’ the Trust has become a practical tool for one to help the other.

McCabe Pilgrimages invite all travellers to become partners in this work. A £15 voluntary donation to the Trust’s work is added to every pilgrim’s invoice and all money raised in this way is given in full to the projects the Trust supports. This scheme is voluntary and confidential with nobody put under any pressure to participate.

Full Financial Security

All money paid to McCabe is fully secure. Holidays including flights are covered by our ATOL license from the Civil Aviation Authority, and holidays without flights are protected by our membership of the ABTOT bonding scheme. If a pilgrimage is cancelled, for instance through lack of numbers or for political considerations, McCabe will promptly refund all monies paid.

AITO Quality Statement

McCabe Pilgrimages is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators. The Association represents Britain’s leading independent tour operators and encourages high standards of quality and service. McCabe abides by the Association’s Code of Conduct and adheres to the AITO Quality Charter.

You can read McCabe reviews on the AITO website HERE

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Our Programme Tour Leader Tour Dates Availability
Celebrate the start of Lent in Germany 7 Day Cologne Carnival Departing From To be Confirmed Prices from £2395 pp McCabe Tour Leader 01/03/2025 for 7 days Download brochure Book now Make an enquiry

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