Dubbed Germany’s “fifth season” by locals, the event starts every year on November 11th at 11:11 am, and typically stretches into February or March, when colourful parades spill into the streets.
Carnival stronghold Cologne in particular is preparing for the onslaught of tens of thousands of people who will flock to its Altstadt (old town), and especially to the student quarter, starting early Friday morning.
“Far too many people want to celebrate in far too small a space,” city director Andrea Blome told DPA. “We can’t stop anyone from coming to Cologne now.”
More security this year
In the popular Kwartier Latäng student quarter, there have been regular bouts of drinking by young partygoers in the past, who crowded into a confined space, leaving litter everywhere and publicly peeing on the corners of buildings.
Google Maps shows the location of the so-called Kwartier Latäng part of Cologne.
But with a new security plan, the city and police hope to keep the situation under control.
Several checkpoints and road closures have been set up to secure the safety of the revelers and relieve the burden on worried residents, according to Blome. Visitors will only be able to enter the closed-off area around Zülpicher Straße via a single access point.
On Friday, Cologne is also set to send a total of 150 employees from the Ordnungsamt (public order office) onto the streets, who will be supported by 520 private security guards.
A glass ban will again apply in the celebration zones, and several hundred toilets will be set up at the hotspots, “which nevertheless will probably not be used by all visitors,” Blome predicted.
Up to 1,100 police officers are expected to be on duty on the day – about 200 fewer than last year, said head of operations Rüdiger Fink. But he expected to keep the situation “under control with a new security plan.”
What to expect
On Cologne’s Heumarkt, there will be a stage program all day with bands such as the Bläck Fööss, the Paveiern and Brings.
Google Maps shows Cologne’s Heumarkt along the Rhine River.
According to the Willi Ostermann Society, about 10,000 tickets were sold in advance for the event, which will be aired by German WDR for several hours.
Meanwhile, in Düsseldorf, the day will start at 11:11 a.m. with the “Hoppeditz Awakening” in front of City Hall.
According to a spokesman, the police will be adequately prepared for the start of the season, with a particular focus on the Altstadt, where there will certainly be celebrations.
“But 11.11. is a very different event here in Düsseldorf than in Cologne,” he said, referring to a more orderly start and fewer guests.