On May Day, people dance around the maypole. It is thought to have started in Roman Britain around 2000 years ago, when soldiers danced around decorated trees to thank their goddess Flora for the coming of spring. Today, rather than dancing around a tree, dancers weave ribbons around a pole.
Many nations have very different maypole customs. The maypole, known as a “maibaum” in Austria and Germany, is erected in the middle of a village by villagers and is covered in Bavarian white and blue stripes. People also try to get to the top of a maypole in the hilarious tradition known as maypole scrambling.
One of the loveliest traditions exists in the Rhineland and around Cologne, the location for our travel this month. Unmarried men erect decorated birch trees in front of the houses of their sweethearts and the ladies wake up to find the trees outside on the morning of May 1.
What else can you find in Cologne? If you’re looking for a city that combines history, culture, and good old-fashioned German beer, then you need to book a flight ASAP.
First up, let’s talk about the Cathedral of Cologne. This impressive structure is one of the city’s most famous landmarks and it’s not hard to see why. With its towering spires and intricate stone carvings, this Gothic masterpiece is sure to leave you in awe. The best part? You can climb the 533 steps to the top for a bird’s-eye view of the city.
The charming Old Town is worth exploring. This neighbourhood is like a trip back in time, with its narrow, winding streets and traditional half-timbered houses. If you’re feeling peckish, be sure to pop into one of the local pubs or restaurants to try some of the city’s famous cuisine. From juicy pork knuckles to crispy schnitzel, you’re sure to find something that will tickle your taste buds.
If you can’t make it to Cologne for the May Day traditions, then perhaps visit at the end of the year to experience the city’s famous Christmas Markets. Enjoy the sound of carollers singing holiday tunes while you sample the local specialties, such as roasted almonds, Stollen cake, mulled wine and gingerbread.
Cologne is also home to a thriving art and cultural scene. The Museum Ludwig is a great place to start, with its impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. From Pablo Picasso to Andy Warhol, you’re sure to find something that will inspire you. And, if you’re a fan of the Old Masters, be sure to check out the Wallraf-Richartz Museum, which showcases art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century.
If you’re looking for some excitement and adventure, you will want to check out the city’s many parks and recreational areas. The Rheinpark is a popular spot for picnics and outdoor recreation, while the Rodderburgpark is perfect for a leisurely stroll. And, if you’re feeling brave, be sure to visit the Phantasialand theme park, where you’ll find a world of thrills and spills waiting for you.
Last but not least, Cologne’s famous brewery district is a must visit. This is where the locals go to unwind, and you’ll understand why as soon as you take your first sip of Kölsch beer.
Cologne is a city that has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or an adventurer, you’re sure to find something in this charming city that will leave you captivated.