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Illustration: Ibou Gueye
Illustration: Ibou Gueye

Seasonal highlights

created by Christian Werthschulte | |   urban culture

Cologne has something to offer all year round



If festivals were supermarkets, then Week-End-Fest would be a boutique! Instead of huge stages with lots of bands playing at the same time, its team of organisers brings together a handful of artists who each play a full concert, encores included! The Week-End-Fest refuses to be pigeonholed into specific genres. After all, who’s to say you can’t have an avant-garde electro producer, a free jazz band and a Japanese yacht rock musician taking their turn on the same stage? And while you’re tapping your toes, you can admire the modernist, 60s-style surroundings of Mülheim’s City Hall, which the Week-End-Fest calls its home.



Cologne Literature Night

Even on Cologne’s literature scene, the era of great intellectuals and highbrow culture is long gone. But that’s not the end of the world, because here in the city one authoritative voice has been replaced by lots of different voices with even more to say – whether in the form of lyrics, prose or journalism. Not to mention a raft of small publishing houses that present all of the above in lovingly produced editions. The whole scene comes together at Cologne Literature Night, which was held for the first time in 2019. Readings and performances take place throughout the entire city – in museums, cafés or art spaces, all of which are easy to reach by bike or public transport.



Pirate Summit /Pirate Live

The Cologne start-up scene must be eagerly anticipating the end of the pandemic, especially now that the Pirate Summit, Cologne’s craziest start-up event, has changed its format. Prior to the recent event itself, which was streamed, the organisers visited start-ups throughout the whole region to find candidates for their Out of the Box Award. COVID case numbers permitting, by 2022 the coders and tech entrepreneurs will be able to return to Odonien, which is usually where clubbers come to dance in the open air until the sun comes up. At the Pirate Summit, founders meet successful entrepreneurs and everyone listens attentively to industry veterans passing on their experience. Here’s hoping it will be possible in person again next year.

Late summer,


Museum Night On Tour

Wander around museums, take in great gigs in unusual venues and discover unknown sides of the city by night: the Museum Night, which has been organised by the Stadtrevue Verlag for the past 20 years, is a firm fixture on Cologne’s culture calendar. During the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers came up with an impressive COVID-compliant alternative: instead of a large-scale event, on every first Thursday in the month small groups now flit from one art space to the next on foot or by bike or rickshaw. Each of the four or five guided tours has a different theme and are not only COVID-compliant but also exclusive: artists or curators often join them, giving participants the chance to discuss their work in a more intimate setting.

Every first Thursday in the month,

film and tv

Film Festival Cologne

Cologne has a solid international reputation as a TV production hub but can also hold its own on the silver screen. And the Film Festival Cologne brings the best of these worlds together. Movie fans can look forward to premieres by filmmakers like Kelly Reichardt and an impressive line-up of documentary films, while TV fans get to watch series on the big screen rather than on the sofa at home – many episodes of which won’t be available to stream until months later. And film buffs and TV addicts alike will enjoy the Artist Talks featuring international stars like Bond villain Mads Mikkelsen and German director Dominik Graf, who effortlessly transcends the line between TV and cinema like no other.


art and design

Illustrator Festival

From freehand illustration to advertising, editorials, animation, comics and children’s books – the Illustrator Festival gives an extensive overview of the exciting scene in North Rhine-Westphalia. Since being launched in 2012, the biennial festival has been providing new inspiration from the varied scene, curating the most diverse exhibits and giving insights into the profession and working methods. As well as the exhibition, the organisers put on an exciting programme of events packed to the brim with talks, guided tours, workshops, discussions and presentations by individual artists. Lovingly created editions, signed books, postcards and posters are on sale in the festival shop. So it’s definitely worth getting there early and picking up a couple of mementoes to take home with you.


(by Christian Werthschulte)