Kölle Alaaf!

People celebrating carnivalPhoto by Tim Bartel / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Hei-Jo from Berlin! I’m Fabian, a developer at Datawrapper. This week I’m in charge of a Weekly Chart which might teach you something about the German carnival traditions and parades.

It’s the “fifth season” in many parts of Germany and people masquerade themselves, sing, dance, and party together. Today, “the crazy days” are starting in Cologne, a week-long street festival between Fat Thursday and Ash Wednesday. I will be part of it. On Saturday I’m traveling to Cologne, masquerading myself and singing carnival songs (badly).

I grew up in the eastern parts of Germany which don’t have the kind of carnival tradition Cologne has, meaning all of this is a little weird to me. But still fun!

The highlights of the carnival in Germany are the Rose Monday parades. They feature giant balloons and custom-built bandwagons making fun of the themes of the day.

Rose Monday paradeRose Monday parade in Mainz, Germany. Photo by MyBlueDay / CC BY-SA 4.0.

During the parades, tons (actual tons) of sweets (Kamelle) are thrown into the crowd and people cry “Kölle Alaaf!”, “Helau” or even “Buäh”. “Kölle Alaaf!” is the one I have to use in Cologne. (For all the non-Germans reading this: none of these greetings are proper German and they are only used in the carnival season.) The locator map above shows what people are shouting and where the biggest carnival parades are happening. I used the marker styling options to rotate the labels and make it more fun.

If you are free this week, join a parade and don’t forget to wear your favorite costume! Kölle Alaaf!


If you read until here, you are obviously a big fan of German carnival! Here is a great playlist of the 2020 Cologne Carnival Hits, with classics like “Leev Marie”, “Kölsche Jung” and “Alle Jläser Huh”. See you next week! 🙋🏻‍♂

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