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Germany: Carnival fans mark subdued Rose Monday

February 15, 2021

Floats, sweets and crowded streets have been swapped for televised puppet parade and comedy performances. Merry-makers in Germany are already facing fines over lockdown-violating Carnival parties.

A person dressed up for Carnival wears a mask under a clown nose in front of the Cologne Cathedral
People in Germany have been finding alternative ways to celebrate this year's CarnivalImage: Oliver Berg/dpa/picture alliance

German Carnival fans settled in for subdued celebrations on Monday, with large parades and parties canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rose Monday, or Rosenmontag, marks the high point of Germany's Carnival celebrations. The merry-making lasts for several days in the lead up to Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent.

In a typical year, thousands of costumed revelers would pack the streets in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Mainz and other cities — for a day of dancing, drinking and sweets.

This year, however, strict lockdown measures and concerns about the spread of new coronavirus variants mean all large events have been called off.

It's the first time the parade has been called off in Cologne since 1991, when it was canceled due to the Gulf War. For Mainz and Düsseldorf, the last time parades were called off was in 2016 due to gale-force winds.

How are people celebrating this year?

The city of Cologne is swapping its hours-long parade and street festival for a miniature version put on by puppets.

The puppet parade will be shown on TV in the afternoon, put on by local public broadcaster WDR. The show will take place in the float-building hall of the Cologne Carnival Festival Committee — with a 32-meter-long (104-foot-long) backdrop of the city's old town district.

One crowd that was permitted in the city was made up of 111 red-and-white mannequins. Cologne-based artist Dennis Josef Meseg created them as part of an installation called "It is like it is," in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The figures were installed at various locations, including bars and squares that are usually packed with of Karneval revelers.

People in ones or twos and dressed in Karneval costumes stood among them at the locations to feel as though they were among fellow party-goers.

In Düsseldorf, eight Carnival floats are being put on display for two hours. The floats will then be driven on three different routes through the city to avoid crowds from forming.

In Mainz, the city's traditional Carnival clubs will put on a virtual show in the evening.

Revelers fined in Cologne

Despite restrictions curbing large and small gatherings alike, German authorities broke up several parties over the weekend.

In Cologne, authorities broke up 24 private gatherings on Saturday alone that breached lockdown rules.

Some 111 people face fines of up to €250 ($303) per person.

rs/rc (dpa, AFP)