Despite grey skies and freezing temperatures, carnival celebrations are set to start on November 11 at 11 minutes past 11 in the festive hubs along the Rhine. Creepy-clowns however will not be welcome.
In Cologne alone, some 10,000 people will gather in the old town center to welcome the start of what is known locally as the "fifth season." The carnival triumvirate will proclaim the start of their rule and present themselves to their supporters.
As the start of carnival this year falls on a Friday, many will use the opportunity to celebrate late into the night. To maintain an atmosphere of relaxed reveling, organizers in Cologne have asked people not to dress up as creepy clowns.
Cologne police have warned that anyone wearing a creepy clown mask will be closely observed by police and will find themselves facing checks if their behavior is found to be inappropriate. There will be more officers patrolling the celebrations who will have the power to ban anyone from the celebrations if they behave badly.
In Düsseldorf, the Hoppeditz, a local figure of a skipping man in red and white fools' attire, awakens to declare the start of carnival. With a biting skit, this jester pokes fun at the state of life in the city. He holds his speech from inside a giant mustard jar while watched by local politicians.
In Mainz, following the first "Helau!" call at 11:11 a.m., there will be an evening celebration for the first time. The local carnival association Mainzer Carneval-Verein (MCV) is already hard at work designing the carnival float for the Rose Monday parade in February.
In Baden-Württemberg, the fools' guilds will also be marking the start of the fifth season. The official start of the Swabian-Allemanic Fastnacht carnival isn't until January 6, on 12th night, also known as Epiphany. Those celebrating are not allowed to be seen wearing the traditional costumes before that date.
This season will offer plenty of time to celebrate carnival. Rose Monday, the big carnival celebration day, falls on February 27 and two days later it will all come to an end on Ash Wednesday.