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Illustration Kati Michaelis
Illustration Kati Michaelis

Seasonal highlights

created by Christian Werthschulte | |   urban culture

Cologne has something to offer all year round

literature festival


At Litcologne, authors are fêted like rock stars. Small wonder, then, that the literature festival has already held an event in the city’s huge Lanxess Arena or that readings at the Philharmonie concert hall sell out every year. While the festival is a great place to see well-known authors like Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood live on stage, its real selling point is the unusual choice of venues for its events. So if you fancy hearing a crime story unfold at the local police headquarters, Litcologne is the place to come.

30 May–13 June 2021,

start-up scene

Pirate Summit

If you want to dance in the open air until the sun goes down, Cologne club Odonien is the place to come. Except for one weekend in August, when this cool sculpture park is taken over by coders and tech entrepreneurs. This is when the Pirate Summit – the most extravagant get-together in the start-up scene – comes to town. Founders rub shoulders with start-up pros and industry veterans share their valuable knowledge. Questions are asked and experiences are shared – and it’s all rounded off by tours around Cologne’s ever-growing start-up scene.


gaming festival


Gamescom is Germany’s biggest gaming festival, where avid gamers will queue up for hours on end just to have a shot at the newest blockbuster game before its release months later. At the same time, Gamescom is a declaration of love to the medium of video gaming. In the Retro Arena you will find games consoles from the 80s, while the Indie Arena is the place for aspiring young developers to showcase their games in person. But the best thing about Gamescom are the cosplay teenagers who descend on Cologne for three whole days dressed up as their favourite gaming characters. Even if your own gaming skills are nothing to write home about, it’s worth coming here just for that!


music festival

c/o pop

c/o pop is an important fixture in Cologne’s musical calendar. Ever since the festival was launched in the mid-noughties, it has constantly been reinventing itself. After starting out as a festival for electronic music, the event has evolved into a showcase for aspiring young artists from all over the globe. The supporting programme is also moving away from music industry shop talk and appealing to a wider audience with readings and beat-making workshops. But its most recent reinvention came in 2020 – during the coronavirus crisis, c/o pop took place online for the first time. And even though it was an interesting experience, we hope that its nocturnal events can return to the clubs very soon.

Date TBC,

art event

Museum Night

(On Tour)

Museum Night is an institution in Cologne: once a year, museums and art spaces open their doors until well into the night. As well as exhibitions, you can visit concerts and performances. But coronavirus restrictions have forced the organisers to modify the format: instead of one big tour a year, they are now giving small tours around different museums and other art venues once a month, each one with its own theme. The tour about life in Roman times will take you to one of Cologne’s typical beerhalls, and the tour of independent artist-run spaces is by bicycle, making every event an opportunity to discover an unknown side of the city.

First Thursday of every month,

film festival

Cologne Film Festival

Cologne has an international reputation as a TV production hub but can also hold its own as a cinema and film city. And Cologne Film Festival 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 documentaries, while TV fans can relish watching series on the big screen rather than on the sofa at home – particularly since many of these 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 Mads Mikkelsen and German director Dominik Graf, who effortlessly transcends the line between TV and cinema like no one else.


(by Christian Werthschulte)