"Düsseldorf Helau!" Once Düsseldorf's carnival is under way, there's no holding back the revellers, the rhyming orators and the festive hordes in this Rhineland city in North Rhine-Westphalia. Düsseldorf's jokers perpetrate their tricks every year from 11 November until Ash Wednesday the following year.
Hoppeditz, the carnival figurehead, is woken from his slumber at 11.11am on 11 November, St. Martin's Day, and opens the new carnival session with a witty yet barbed speech in front of the town hall on the market square. On Ash Wednesday, Hoppeditz is carried howling and wailing to his 'grave' in the garden of the municipal museum. It's tradition to give him a good send-off with a wake, an extravagant fish meal for the start of Lent. In between it's time for celebrations: women's carnival day, costume balls, ceremonies, processions and carnival Sunday, when hundreds of thousands of people gather on Königsallee and in the old quarter. Visitors will see many of the costumed characters pulling hand carts, quirkily decorated and filled with beer, spirits and food. But the real highlight is always the Rose Monday procession, which sees over 60 floats gliding through the crowd, tossing out sweets and other small gifts. Then it's not long until Ash Wednesday when carnival is over for another year, but thankfully only until the next 11.11.
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