Carnival of Maastricht

Carnival of Maastricht
Carnival in the Netherlands is most celebrated in traditionally Catholic regions. There are two main variations of Dutch Carnival: the Rhenish Carnival in the province of Limburg and the Burgundian Carnival in the province of North Brabant. The Carnival of Maastricht takes place in the capital of Limburg. It incorporates some elements of the Carnival of Venice.

Dutch Carnival usually starts on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and culminates on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras). It is one of the oldest Carnival celebrations in Europe. The first written mention of the Maastricht Carnival dates back to 1405. However, the celebrations were contained to some areas in Limburg and North Brabant inhabited by Catholics. In other parts of the country Carnival was repressed due to the strong Protestant influence.

The Carnival in the Netherlands as it’s known today began after World War II due to secularization. Nevertheless, the largest Carnival celebrations are still held in the historically Catholic south of the country although the festivities are now mostly secular. The epicenter of Carnival in the province of Limburg is its capital, Maastricht.

The Carnival season in Limburg begins on November 11 at 11:11 am because it’s the tradition of the Rhenish Carnival that originated in Germany. But the Carnival itself officially opens on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday although some people start celebration on Thursday. The Mayor of Maastricht gives the symbolic key to the city to the Prince Carnival, also referred to as the “Prince of the mad”, and relinquishes his power for the following three days.

The Carnival of Maastricht is famous for the elaborate costumes and make-up worn by revelers. The city’s inhabitants start preparing for Carnival months in advance because they want to impress everyone with their weird yet amazing outfits. During the three festive days literally everyone in the city is dressed up.

The three-day celebration includes a huge parade with beautifully decorated floats, street parties, performances, marching bands, dancing and more. Many local businesses close for the week because most employees take several days off to participate in the festivities anyway so it just makes no sense to stay open while everyone’s celebrating.

Carnival of Maastricht




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