In Düsseldorf, the jester Hoppeditz is brought to life at 11am, when he will give a biting satirical speech before the town hall which will signal the beginning of the city's carnival.
In Cologne, the Dreigestirn will appear before the public to initiate the season of partying, dressing up and much drinking.
Cologne's motto this year is “Mer stelle alles op der Kopp“ (We're turning everything on its head).
Carnival starts on St. Martin's Day every year and is most prominent in the Rhineland region of western Germany.
The grand finale happens on Ash Wednesday, which in 2016 falls on February 10th, when huge parades take place in the streets of Cologne, Düsseldorf and other cities in the Rhine region.
The weather for the first day for the festivities could be worse.
“Nobody will have to freeze,” said Cornelia Urban from the German Weather Service in Essen. “There will be a lot of clouds. But by 11 am the rain clouds should have already travelled east, so on the whole it doesn't look terrible.”
According to the Cologne costume shop Dieters, alongside usual favourites like Indians, cowboys and fighter pilots, steampunks are in particular demand this year.
Steampunk costumes feature a mixture between Victorian clothing and sci-fi elements.