Work hard, play hard: What’s on in Cologne during IDS?
COLOGNE, Germany: Next week, the International Dental Show (IDS)—not just any but the biggest event in dentistry—will be hosted in Cologne, attracting dental professionals from all over the world. While the days at the fair will be filled with networking and checking out what’s new on the market, the nights should be dedicated to exploring one of the most lively cities in Germany. Wander around the hot spots downtown, treat yourself and your colleagues to some traditional food and drinks, and maybe even take the opportunity to socialise with the locals.
Whether you are working at IDS, spending the day presenting at the booth or visiting the exhibition, navigating through six halls covering an area of 160,000 m2, once the doors shut at 6 p.m., you will be knackered, longing for a quiet night in your hotel room. However, IDS only takes place every two years, and to make the most of it, you really should be out and about in Cologne!
Now, most travel guides will give you detailed information on all those famous sights that, according to the authors, you really need to visit. Cologne Cathedral, the Rhine River, the Wallraf-Richartz and Ludwig museums, the Romano-Germanic Museum, the Imhoff chocolate museum… several more museums … and churches, of course. However, many of these suggestions may not be at the top of the wish list after doing business all day. Who’s still up to climbing the 533 steps to the cathedral top after being on their feet all day at IDS? For those who do feel like it, the effort will be rewarded with a fantastic panoramic view that’s definitely worth a Facebook posting.
However, if you don’t have the energy, do something less exhausting instead! Leave the fair, jump on the tram, bus, even the cable car, or simply grab a taxi to the town centre, and then choose from the variety of options. Whatever you want to do, wherever you wish to go, you can be sure there is a free mobile app to guide you there.
Cologne—metropolis of a million people, trade fair centre, media hub and university city—is naturally crowded. During IDS, the staff of 2,300 dental exhibitors from over 60 countries, plus an expected more than 140,000 international visitors to the fair, will spread out to the hotels, streets, restaurants, bars and clubs.
In the city, you will have a broad choice of places to go, some of which are really special and even a little unusual.
Satisfy your hunger
If IDS is too busy for you and your senses are overstimulated, why not block out all visual surroundings for a night and dine in complete darkness at unsicht-Bar [invisible bar]? You can choose from several four-course menus without knowing exactly what you will be served. Guests are waited on by experienced blind or visually impaired staff who know their way around in the dark. Make sure to place a reservation a few days ahead.
Many visitors to Germany are surprised to find a culture so unlike the one promoted in international films and media. As a matter of fact, the ordinary German does not walk around in leather shorts or dirndls, holding a sausage in one hand and a huge glass of beer in the other. Nevertheless, this experience of “Germanness” is on offer. For that proper Bavarian Oktoberfest vibe, with a slight Colognian touch, try out one of the several Brauhaus pubs in the city.
Individualists, creative minds, bloggers and designers meet at Venlo, according to the people who run the restaurant. The food served ranges from traditional to creative and is all homemade from regional products.
Fancy a drink … or two?
If you appreciate the early nineteenth-century industrial style, you may want to stop at the STAPEL.BAR [stack bar] for some cocktails or Kölsch, traditional Cologne draught beer. The bar, located in the Helios Quarter, is almost completely furnished with wooden pallets, yet, and maybe especially because of that, comfortable and appealing.
Leaving behind IDS for the day and switching into holiday mode is easily done at Meer sehen [see the sea]. The bar offers a variety of beverages and a multicultural cuisine, served in a relaxing beach atmosphere with wallpaper depicting underwater scenes, traditional German beach chairs and projections of marine life on a screen.
If you will be staying at or nearby the Hilton hotel, have a nightcap at the hotel’s IceBAR. The bar counter is made of real ice, keeping your Kölsch beer or mixed designer drink cool.
On Thursday, 23 March, from 7.30 p.m., British singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran will be performing in Cologne’s LANXESS arena, which holds up to 20,000 people. The bad news is that, like many concerts by Grammy-awarded and world-famous musicians, this one sold out very quickly. However, the good news is that, if IDS is going well for you and you are willing to spend some extra cash, you may be able to buy a ticket on eBay or from a seller outside the concert hall.
The owners of Die Wohngemeinschaft [the residential community] invite you to their café bar, with four rooms each decorated in the individual style of the fictional residents, their kitchen-breakfast bar and living room furnished with 1950s and 1960s flair. The cafe-bar-theatre crew brews their own beer and offers an entertainment programme almost daily. Enter the Belgian Quarter of Cologne to listen to US singer Laura Gibson’s neo-folk music on Monday, 20 March, or to folk pop by UK band We Were Strangers on Wednesday, 22 March, or learn about symphonic space cowboy soul, performed by Berlin-based band Fabian Simon & The Moon Machine + Lightning Jules on Saturday, 25 March.
You are a male dentist taking his wife to Cologne? Why not surprise her with tickets for the Bodyguard musical! During the week of IDS, it is being staged almost every night at Cologne’s Musical Dome, at various times.
In addition to several company parties that will be thrown in the city by the major players of the dental industry over the week, the organisers of IDS will be hosting their Strictly Dental Night on Friday at HALLE Tor 2, as is traditional. Tickets for the party on Friday, 24 March, have already sold out; however, maybe you know someone who knows someone …
Wherever you go, you are sure to experience the warm hospitality of the locals. Colognians have the reputation of being really friendly, humorous and chatty. So, if you can, take the chance and talk to some Germans to find out what they are really like.
These are only a few ideas of how to spend your time after the show each day. Whether you are a foodie, cultural buff or keen on exploring everything social, you will likely find many things to do and see somewhere in the city. And when IDS comes to an end, in addition to all of the professional knowledge you will have gained at the fair, you will hopefully take with you great memories of your stay in Cologne.