IN PICTURES: Tens of thousands of people flock to Cologne for carnival launch

Carnival kicked off in Germany on Friday, with tens of thousands celebrating in Cologne, while other Karneval strongholds also held events.

People dressed up for the start of Carnival in Cologne on November 11th.
People dressed up for the start of Carnival in Cologne on November 11th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd

Countless Jecken (revellers) gathered in the parts of Germany that celebrate Karneval – known as the fifth season – on November 11th.

The event starts every year on this date at 11:11 am, and stretches into February or March, when colourful parades spill into the streets.

Cologne always holds a large celebration on this date, with people pouring into its Altstadt (old town).

Revellers in Cologne, as shown in the photos, get ready for carnival season by getting dressed up in various outfits. 


Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

A carnival enthusiast, below, waves to the camera in Cologne. 

A carnival enthusiast

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd

Events were taking place throughout Cologne, including in the Heumarkt. There was set to be a stage programme all day with bands including the Bläck Fööss, the Paveiern and Brings. 

READ ALSO: 10 unmissable events in Germany this November


Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd
Cologne’s Kölsch beer was being sold in some areas. People are known to start drinking alcohol early on in the day. 

Beers lined up

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Rolf Vennenbernd

Below is a view of Zülpicher Strasse in Cologne on Friday morning before carnival kicked off. 

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Thomas Banneyer

It’s not just Cologne that’s celebrating the start of the “fifth season”. Other areas – including Mainz and Bonn as mentioned in the tweets below – are also marking the occasion.

Another carnival stronghold – Düsseldorf – also marked the start of carnival season.

The Düsseldorf carnival figure Hoppeditz, below, awakens from his sleep at 11:11am, marking the start of carnival. The motto of the 2022 carnival season is: “Düsseldorf Helau – we celebrate life”.


Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Strauch

Don’t forget to listen to The Local Germany’s in Focus podcast to hear more about carnival season, as well as German news and other traditions. 

People wear outlandish outfits – with lots of colour involved – like these dudes shown below outside Cologne cathedral.

Revellers in Cologne
Photo; picture alliance/dpa | Roberto Pfeil

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Will Berlin bring back fireworks after two years of New Year’s Eve bans?

After two years of bans on the sale of fireworks in Germany for New Year celebrations due to Covid, they are likely to return in full force. Now the city of Berlin is debating how widespread fireworks usage should be in the capital.

Will Berlin bring back fireworks after two years of New Year's Eve bans?

Last year – and in 2020 –  the federal government and states agreed to ban the sale of fireworks and firecrackers over New Year, and setting them off was strongly discouraged. The measures were in place to ease the burden on the health care system and essential services during the Covid pandemic.

This year no general restrictions on the sale of fireworks is planned – but cities are starting to discuss how they can limit the use of them. 

In Berlin last year there were a total of 50 zones where setting off fireworks was not allowed – in addition to the ban on the sale of fireworks.

For the coming New Year’s Eve, Berlin police and the Senate want to ban fireworks in some areas for safety reasons. 

According to current discussions, at least three ‘firecracker ban zones’ are planned, said the Senate.

As in previous years, the ban zones are set to include Alexanderplatz and the so-called Steinmetzkiez in Schöneberg near Pallasstraße. In addition, fireworks are also to be banned in some streets in Alt-Moabit.

Berlin authorities said the bans were planned for safety reasons and to protect emergency services.

In previous New Year’s Eve celebrations, groups of mainly young people have gathered in hotspots and attacked police and firefighters with fireworks and bottles.

In 2019, the Senate enacted ban zones for the first time, erected barrier fences and posted hundreds of police officers to the affected areas on New Year’s Eve to control the situation.

Further bans due to the Covid pandemic – as seen in the past two years – are currently not planned, the Senate said.

However, last year attacks on emergency services were reported even though tough restrictions were in place.

READ ALSO: Germany sees largely quiet New Year’s Eve despite several serious fireworks injuries

Police call for complete ban in the S-Bahn ring

The Police Union (GdP), however, has urged politicians to go further and called for a complete ban on setting off fireworks within Berlin’s S-Bahn ring on New Year’s Eve.

This is needed “to prevent the rampant violent antics against police and firefighters”, said the union, but also as a measure against climate change.

The union said individual ban zones are difficult for locals to understand and for the police to monitor.

In Berlin, this demand has been met with mixed reactions. Meanwhile, a large-scale ban in the entire inner city area is said to only be possible through the Explosives Act, which is the responsibility of the federal government.

Buying and setting off fireworks during the days on and around Silvester (December 31st) is a popular German tradition – but it can often result in many places turning into what can appear like mini war-zones.

READ ALSO: Why many German cities become a fireworks hell on New Year’s Eve

It can see people get severe injuries. Paramedics and police are called out frequently, and in some cases attacked.