Karneval festivities kick off in Rhineland

Germany's Rhineland exploded into colour and music on Thursday morning, signalling the beginning of the Karneval season. Cities in the area transform annually for a big party.

Karneval festivities kick off in Rhineland
Scenes from Cologne on Thursday morning. Photo: DPA

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At 11.11am, swathes of fancy-dress clad revellers stormed town halls across the region to mark the start of Karneval, held in the run-up to Lent.

Partying starts early, particularly in Cologne, and it has become a custom for many to start drinking in the morning before hitting the streets with tens of thousands of others to soak in traditional German Schlager music.

“I'm stood next to a horse drinking beer,” Cologne Karneval-goer, Heather G. told The Local just before midday. “There's lots of great costumes and people are ready to make friends with everyone around them,” she said.

Known as Fat Thursday – or Weiberfastnacht – some people in the western states of North-Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate get the day off to enjoy the circus-like atmosphere.

In the south of the country the day is known as "Dirty Thursday", and is celebrated in a similar style, although party-goers do not gather in town halls as is custom in the north-west.

Some women use the day to go on the hunt for a new love interest, as tradition denotes that they should carry around scissors to cut a man's tie as a signal of interest.

CLICK HERE for photos of the fun

Karneval celebrations will culminate on Monday with huge parades in the region's bigger cities. Floats, often politically themed, make their way through the streets entertaining tens of thousands of people.

Around 600 tonnes of sweets will be thrown into the crowds – normally wrapped caramels or gummy bears.

The lion's share will rain down on Monday in Cologne – Rosenmontag – when 400 tonnes of candy will by thrown around.

Düsseldorf and Mainz will each have 60 tonnes.

SEE ALSO: The Local’s guide to Karneval

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