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Carnival parades draw millions across Germany

February 12, 2018

Millions of revelers have braved cold winter weather to attend traditional carnival parades in Germany. The processions often take on a highly satirical note.

Deutschland Karneval Rosenmontagszug in Düsseldorf
Image: Reuters/T. Schmuelgen

Germany's carnival season reached its height on Monday, with colorful "Rose Monday" parades taking place in many cities, particularly the traditional strongholds of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mainz in the west of the country.

The parade in Cologne, which took the motto "We in Cologne march to a different tune" ("Mer Kölsche danze us der Reih" in the local dialect), featured some 11,000 participants, around 390 horses and 85 floats, many of which bore huge and often unflattering figures representing politicians.

Among those singled out for satire this year were Chancellor Angela Merkel, US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May.  

German Carnival parade shows a Russian bear hugging a naked US President Donald Trump
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kusch

Read more: Berlin 24/7: Carnival in Berlin? A mission impossible

Candy in abundance

Traditionally, bouquets of flowers and candy of various kinds are thrown down from the floats into the crowds of spectators, many of whom wear costumes ranging from pirates to devils. This year, 300 tonnes (330.7 US tons) of confectionary were up for grabs in Cologne alone.

Schnaps bottles in Düsseldorf
Some spectators in Düsseldorf may have been thankful for a warming of spirits rather than candyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/I. Fassbender

The tradition of the parades also began in Cologne, where the first one took place in 1823 in a bid to import the famous celebrations from the Italian city of Venice. The success of the events led other cities in the region to follow suit.

Unfortunately, celebrations in Cologne were marred this year by a runaway parade horse injuring several onlookers. 

Police at Cologne parade
Police were out in force at the paradesImage: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Berg

In Düsseldorf, 6,000 took part in Monday's parade, with some 100 floats.

"Rose Monday" or Shrove Monday was traditionally seen as a last chance to celebrate before the start of the 40-day Christian fasting season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday.

Read more: 11 crazy Carnival events held between November and Lent

tj/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)