World comes to carnival in Cologne

5th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Two million come out to watch the parade in the Rhineland.

Cologne, Germany -- Among the visitors from round the world thronging the German city of Cologne at carnival-time was Stephen Coylon, who dressed himself up as a glass of beer.

Coylon, 33, from southern England, was unfazed by the cold and the rain on Monday as he watched the grand fancy-dress parade. "It's super," he enthused. "We're all having fun. Who cares about the weather?"

Like many visitors, Coylon was staying with friends. His host, Christian Stork, 34, was next to him at the crowd barrier, holding a bottle of beer (perhaps to refill the beer-glass).

Stork was nicely dressed as a monk, but was not so happy about the temperature, just above freezing. "It could be warmer," the German grumbled. "This cassock is not keeping me warm."

The two became acquainted through former jobs and often meet up for carnival, the fancy-dress party-time that precedes the annual Christian seasons of Lent and Easter.

Not far away in the crowd was Pu Minghui, 27, from China and his girlfriend, both huddling under the awning of a food stand near the main railway station. Neither was in fancy dress.

"We can only stay a day, as I've got to get back to Hanover where I'm studying machinery construction at university," he said. "I just want to see if any carnival floats refer to this summer's Olympics in Beijing."

Cologne folk are gladdest when the visitors dress up and join in, the same as the other revellers.

Marie Brasselet, 21, was wearing a rasta wig and a hippie costume, and that was not all she brought with her.

Brasselet, who hails from Lille, France and works in Germany, said, "I was at carnival in Dusseldorf yesterday and wore my Superwoman costume there." Asked if she minded the rain, she laughed, "I live in Germany. I'm used to it."

Ten of her friends showed up from Lille to join in the high jinks, and Brasselet gave them a crash-course in words to shout while dancing and making a noise during parade, which was attended by over 1 million people.

Dima, 22, one of a group of Belarusian visitors gathered in front of a hotel, was reluctant to take total immersion that far.

"I'm just looking, thanks," he said cautiously.

Surrounded by shrieking Germans in warpaint, the Belarusians were looking nervous. A whole herd of people dressed as donkeys galloped past in the general din.

Javier Martinez, 30, of Mexico, was in regular clothing as he watched the carnival parade, which measured 7,000 metres from end to end.

"There was no room in my suitcase for a costume," he explained, alongside travelling companions Diana Ramirez, 28, of Colombia and Laurent Michel, 34, of Belgium.

"We came because we wanted to see the parade. It's fun to just watch.

"We celebrate carnival in Mexico too. But it's different. And do you know what I find funny? I've seen more people here today running round in ponchos and sombreros than I'd ever see at home."

DPA with Expatica

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