Every winter in the Rhine Valley in Germany, carnivals are held. This tradition is hundreds of years old. In each city, the carnival is called in its own way: Fasching in Cologne and Karneval in Düsseldorf. The carnival season is called the “fifth season,” it begins on November 11 at 11 p.m.

On this day, the city mayor on the main square announces the beginning of the fifth season, preparations for large carnivals begin, festive sweets are sold in bakeries. Each city chooses the prince and princess of the carnival. But the real fun will begin only on February 8, on Babi Thursday (Weiberfastnacht), and will end with a grand ball on the evening of February 13, 2018. Today we will tell you about the three main carnivals of Germany.

1. Carnival in Cologne

In Cologne, the carnival is the main holiday after Christmas. It is here that the beginning of the fifth season is most fun. On November 11, at 11 o’clock, concerts will begin on the squares of the city, the organizers will announce the slogan of the carnival, and a small parade of masked men will pass through the city from the town hall.

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And on February 8, the day when women are allowed everything, the six-day celebration of the carnival will begin with ladies in bright costumes and with scissors in their hands will surround the city hall and arrange a comic assault. After the assault, the mayor will announce the beginning of the carnival, and everyone will go to celebrate. On this day, women make fun of men and even traditionally cut off their ties.

In the following days, concerts and musical processions in masquerade costumes will be held on the streets of Cologne, and a festive menu will appear in restaurants and pubs. The culmination of the carnival will come on February 12 at Rosenmontag (Pink Monday). Along the city’s main street will be a magnificent procession in masquerade costumes, surrounded by horsemen, hundreds of musicians, and brightly decorated carts, from which gingerbread and candy will be thrown into the crowd. About 1.5 million people will come to see the Cologne Carnival.

2. Carnival in Düsseldorf

Carnival in Düsseldorf, which takes place every year since the end of the 15th century, is the second most important after Cologne. The protagonist of the carnival is the mischievous jester Hoppeditz. On the 11th of the 11th month, at 11 o’clock, the jester wakes up in the city’s main square and announces the beginning of the celebration. This is followed by the election of the prince and princess of the carnival.

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The six-day celebration begins with a procession from the town hall on February 8 at 18.00. The most interesting events of the Düsseldorf carnival: comic competitions in the Niederkassel district, a parade with the participation of 60 platforms on which huge dolls are installed, ridiculing politicians from around the world, and the funeral of the jester Hoppeditz on February 12, 2018, during which the closure of the carnival is announced.

Photo: © KarlGrobe / Fotolia

3. Carnival in Mainz

The history of the carnival in Mainz began in the 13th century. On November 11 at 11 o’clock, the mayor, accompanied by the main characters of the carnival (prince, lady, and peasant), goes to the balcony of the Osteiner Hofe mansion and announces the beginning of the fifth season, and reads out the comic commandments of the carnival. For example, stop 3 pairs of boots in dancing and drink 3 buckets of beer. Then, starting from January 1, once a week, residents of the city gather for “Carnival meetings,” during which they discuss organizational issues, costumes and come up with slogans over a mug of beer. A prerequisite for these meetings is that each participant must be 11 minutes late, which is not easy for punctual Germans.

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On February 8, a six-day celebration of the carnival begins with processions of masked men and musicians along the city’s central streets. In the city’s central square, the “Tower of Fools” is being built, around which competitions and concerts are organized. All 6 days of the carnival entrance to the museums of Mainz are free. The main parade takes place on Pink Monday – in the city center there is a procession of children in bright costumes, then there are carts with dolls, followed by musicians and the “Parade of Fools” in caps and funny costumes. The carnival will end on February 14, in the “Ash Wednesday,” with a mass feast on the streets of Mainz.

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