Exactly at 11:11 a.m. today, the crazy cheer breaks out again in the carnival strongholds. The street carnival traditionally begins with Weiberfastnacht or Old Women’s Thursday. In many cities, women are storming town halls and symbolically taking power. In Düsseldorf, the “Möhnen” captured the mayor. In Cologne, the triumvirate demands the city keys.

The weather could be a bit of a dampener on the mood. The German Weather Service has issued a severe weather warning of heavy, continuous rain for parts of North Rhine-Westphalia. Especially in the Bergisches Land, the Sauerland and around Aachen, 60 to 80 liters of rain per square meter could fall – that would be enough to cause streams and smaller rivers to overflow their banks and flood streets, the meteorologists said. Things are only looking a little better in the carnival strongholds of Cologne and Düsseldorf.

But the carnivalists don’t want to be deterred by this. “We already had hurricanes, sleet and lightning ice on Weiberfastnacht and Shrove Monday – and yet the Jecken were still on the streets,” said a spokesman for the Cologne Carnival festival committee. “Then you just adjust your clothing and have to sing a little louder.” Experience has shown that the number of visitors is only slightly lower in bad weather than in sunshine.

For the first time street festival on the Cologne Rings

The crazy goings-on are nevertheless a challenge for the law enforcement officers, especially in Cologne, which is always visited by many thousands of party tourists on Weiberfastnacht. In conjunction with excessive alcohol consumption, this regularly leads to enormous crowding and side effects such as littering and wild peeing. With over 1,500 police officers, 200 public order office employees and more than 1,000 private security guards, the city wants to control the onslaught in a somewhat regulated manner. There will also be a street festival at the Cologne Rings for the first time this year. This is intended to relieve the overcrowded student district around Zülpicher Straße.

Around 62,000 police officers are deployed throughout North Rhine-Westphalia on the carnival days; normally there would be 38,000 during this period. “This means we are also prepared for unforeseeable events,” said NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) to the “Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger”. Due to the international situation with wars in Israel and Ukraine, the abstract threat of terrorism is high. But Reul doesn’t recommend staying at home: “It’s important that you go out the door even in difficult times and celebrate carnival without any worries.”