Cruising Carnival Part IV: Cologne, Germany

Kölle Alaaf! 

Kölner Karneval features a week-long street festival along with lots of Klöwns.

Carnival has now officially come to a close. Even in Milan, where Carnevale lasts four extra days (Grazie, St. Ambrose), parades full of brightly colored and masked individuals no longer line the streets. We’ve seen Carnival in various shapes and sizes, from the world’s largest in Rio De Janeiro to the famous New Orleans Mardi Gras.

Cologne, a city in Germany likely more famous for its eponymous fragrance and its delicious beer, also has one of the largest street festivals in Europe, with its week-long Karneval parade attracting over 1 million visitors to the city’s central Altstadt. 

Does this week-long invasion of revelry negatively impact traveling? According to Wazers, Nein! 

A Rose by any other Montag

If you’ve been reading our other Carnival posts, you won’t be surprised to learn that many people prefer to walk around the city rather than drive. Unlike the constant work-work-work culture of the United States, people in Europe often take time off to enjoy these city-wide holidays, festivals and other events. Paris (and much of France) even did this on Wednesdays until recently.

According to the Kölner Karneval website, the big days for partying fall between Thursday, February 12 (Weiberfastnacht, “Fat Thursday”) and Wednesday, February 18 (Aschermittwoch, “Ash Wednesday). Of all these days, the opening day and the much-celebrated Rosenmontag (“Rose Monday”) are the biggest festival days. In fact, locals even refer to this period as Tolle Tage (literally, “Crazy days”).

Let’s take a look at last week, based on the percentage change across active usage, daily driven distance, average speed per drive and the number of drives.


Whoa! Reporting is off the chart!


At first glance it seems like Sunday is the “biggest day” based on the reporting increase. But Sundays are already very quiet days in Germany, so the increase on a day when everyone is not taking court-determined “day of rest” made sense.

Nothing else really deviated too much from the standard. You can note that average speed increased about 35% on Rose Monday, but that coincides with the decrease in number of drives on that same day, so nothing surprising.


After looking at four different carnivals in four different countries, all with their own unique cultural additions and schedules, it’s clear that Carnival is not a holiday that majorly affects driving on a city-level. That doesn’t mean that the people who live in apartments on the parade route or the bar and restaurant owners that service the millions of attendees that would otherwise drive to work go unaffected; from our research there seems to be a recurring trend of people opting not to drive. They could drive, but there’s no reason. After hundreds of years of Carnivals they already know it’s going to be difficult to get around in a car.

Like we said when we started the Waze Connected Citizens Program, “No one can tell you more about a city than the people who live there.”

The people who live in these Carnival cities are telling us, “We hope you like walking.”