Watch as fireworks light up the Cologne sky
Cologne is a fabulous city that offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy regional cuisines and customs all year round. One of the most magical events is the Cologne Festival of Lights or Kölner Lichter. The festival includes a huge firework display in the night sky above the Rhine River and a convoy of ships decorated with coloured lights. If you are in town for the Cologne Lights, then make sure you get the most out of the city with our top tips for getting the best views and brews.
It’s party time on the Rhine
1) Festivities start early on the big day with musical entertainment at the Tanzbrunnen. This is the perfect time to sample some local foods (vegetarians be warned: there is a lot of meat on traditional menus) and to try a glass or two of the region’s famous Kölsch beer, usually served from a slim glass.
2) Then at about 8.30pm, it’s time for the ships to start their procession down the Rhine. These pleasure cruisers – 50 in total, all decorated with coloured lights – are hailed with a curtain of fire at the Deutz Bridge, where thousands of people excitedly wave sparklers. And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, the main fireworks display, which is launched from a 240-metre pontoon formation in the river, lasts for a full 30 minutes. Around a million spectators turn out to enjoy the fireworks, flames and feasting on this one night in Köln.
3) You can book onto one of the decorated pleasure cruisers and enjoy a party on-board or watch the festivities from the banks of the Rhine. Either way, you’re going to love Cologne at this time of year, because the locals really love a good party and know how to throw one.
Plan ahead or just show up on the night
Whether you have planned your trip to Köln in advance or you are in town by chance and decide to join the party, you are sure to have a great time. The popularity of this event means that the best tickets for parties on-board ship are booked up as much as a year in advance. So if you know you want to experience this event in style, then plan ahead. The dates for your diary are July 19, 2014, and July 11, 2015.
4) There are other options that will still ensure you have a great night. A reserved seat in the stands on the riverbank is priced from €27.00 to €88.00. But you can still get a good view for free from many areas around the event.
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Cologne is a short walk from the banks of the Rhine and makes a perfect base for enjoying the festival.