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February 12, 2024

The more despairing the headlines, the more creative the floats. That appeared to be the motto in western Germany on Monday as the carnival season reached its climax with the traditional Rosenmontag (Rose Monday) parades in Dusseldorf, Cologne, Bonn, Mainz and across the region.

Hundreds of thousands of revelers – known as Jecken (clowns) or Narren (fools) – took to the streets in fancy dress to attend parades which traditionally satirize global events and lampoon political figures, and there was no shortage of ammunition this year.

From senior German politicians such as Chancellor Olaf Scholz and foreign minister Annalena Baerbock to global figures such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and former US President Donald Trump, no-one was spared as the Karnevalisten took aim at Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the conflict between Israel and Hamas, NATO, the rise of Germany's far-right and climate change, among other topics.

This year's official Cologne carnival motto: Wat e Theater! Wat e Jeckespill!, can be roughly translated as: "What a drama! What a circus!"