Beginning of carnival in Cologne: roaring, screeching and joie de vivre


EIt’s November 11th, 11:11 a.m., and the reporter didn’t make it to the Heumarkt. It’s her own fault, why is she sitting in some conference until a quarter to four, only to then throw on the pink flamingo cloak (“Oh, you’re disguised!”, exclaims a colleague in the video call, relieved at the supposed fashion faux pas in full-body pink ), jump on the rental bike and cycle in the direction of the city center.

Only this year Zülpicher Strasse is also closed to cyclists, and detours through the university district only lead them deeper and deeper into the carnival swamp of feathers and glitter and loveless body suits, until the reporter finally rents the bike (a literal fool, who on a day like this takes your own with you) half-carry, half-push across the meadow in front of the canteen, past thousands of students, who mostly stroll along in randomly thrown together outfits that could euphemistically be described as costumes, with large plastic bottles with “mixture” in them and at times staring at them .

Group costumes are back in fashion

At 11:11 a.m. on November 11, 2022, the reporter is in a tunnel, where Bachemer becomes Lindenstrasse and where today cars are only driving at walking pace because passers-by are spraying the windows with their mixture. In the tunnel then huge theatre, roaring, screeching and: joie de vivre.

Cologne: revelers celebrate the start of the carnival session on the Heumarkt.


Cologne: revelers celebrate the start of the carnival session on the Heumarkt.
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Image: dpa


11.25, Heumarkt. Done – and hopefully not missed much. Group costumes are very popular again this year, for example a group of women are dressed as ladybugs. “We come from Fribourg! And we were happy to come to Cologne again. Just have fun!” says a beetle. Three young women who walk as Rudolf the reindeer come from Munich. “We didn’t come the last few years because of Corona and because it was too far for us.” Now they’re back, driving 570 kilometers to drink Kölsch “and just have a good time”. On to the next group, four Elsa ice queens. “I’m XXL-sa,” says the tallest. They made their costumes themselves, “it didn’t even take five hours,” says a smaller Elsa. They also came specially from Aschaffenburg. Then they want to see the reporter’s press card first, completely rude – and ask, reassured because everything is serious, for tips for the day. You will be sent to Southtown.

Carnival is celebrated differently regionally and worldwide, with special customs and partly their own focal points.


Carnival is celebrated differently regionally and worldwide, with special customs and partly their own focal points.
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Image: dpa


All well and good, but where are the people of Cologne? A group of at least 20 men, young and old, looks promising. They wear nice quirky hats and uniforms – and pose as a carnival club from Holland. “De Ezels”, with a pretty little donkey on their hats, come from Gassel. At the end they give the reporter in a flamingo costume a small silver donkey to pin on. Eh-ah-alaaf!



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