© Tourismus NRW, Joris Felix


The biennial festival of urban art

They come here to paint — artists from Cologne and all over the world. Every two years, the City Leaks festival of urban art invites artists to liven up boring grey walls — and upgrade house walls with striking large-scale murals. Over the years, some of these provocative murals and graffiti have even become veritable landmarks in their respective neighbourhoods.

City Leaks was founded by the associations artrmx and Colourrevolution to prevent public spaces from simply being surrendered to ever-present advertising without any counterbalance. The aim of these organizations was to promote direct communication between art and observers during daily life in the city.

© MarcoKD, KölnTourismus GmbH

On the programme: open participation

Everyone can participate and co-design — including Cologne’s residents, of course. That’s because designing the look of the city is all about promoting active citizenship. Everyone is affected by the relationship between people, the city, and the urban environment — and by the ways we exploit the potential of public space, including its squares, streets, and open areas.

City Leaks: a festival — workshop, performance, discussion, and get-together

Art in public spaces provides accessibility, visibility and discussion. A social dialogue begins. As a result, urban life becomes a design concept in which many people participate — and the city as a habitat is no longer simply expressing the ideas of city managers and administrators.

Inspired by this idea, the City Leaks festival team first called on artists to bring art into the streets in 2011. And it has continued to do this every two years. In addition to this action, the programme for the festival days also includes workshops, performances, discussions and get-togethers.

© Bilderblitz, KölnTourismus GmbH

Street Art – beyond City Leaks

The City Leaks festival is partly financed by the City Leaks tours. On one of these tours, you join others on a journey of discovery through the streets and neighbourhoods of Cologne with their graffiti, urban art and artistic interventions. 

Some neighbourhoods such as the Belgian Quarter and the Heliosstraße in Ehrenfeld have become real hotspots of the Street Art scene in recent years. Here there are always new things to discover, ranging from small paste-ups, stickers, tiles and stencils all the way to huge syntheses of all the arts. 

Would you prefer an organized tour? If so, book one of the guided street art tours through Cologne — on foot or by bike. After the tour is over, you may be one of the people who walk through their own city with a different perspective — and a well-trained eye for spotting opportunities for creative expression in the public spaces of your own city.

Just one click to the city vacation

Accommodation options for every taste

© KölnTourismus, Foto: Christoph Seelbach


The official tourist ticket

Would you like to discover Cologne inexpensively and easily? Then we recommend the KölnCard. The tourist ticket offers you free travel on all public transport and great discounts on art, culture and gastronomy.