Carnival is traditionally a ‘pagan’ festival preceding Catholic Lenten penitential season. Carnival is a festival of folly, satire, and exuberance, which is in stark contrast to the religious fasts.
Everyone has ever heard of the carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and Venice, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the carnival in Cologne… But Limburg is also widely known for its spirited carnival and is celebrated by thousands of people. Carnival is an exhilarating, three-day, popular festival that will be held from 11 through 13 February 2018. During this carnival period, festivals and carnival parades with colourful floats and gorgeous costumes are held in numerous municipalities in Limburg. Public figures, are sometimes satirised during carnival as well. From a culturally historic perspective, carnival is seen as an ‘inversion ritual’, in which societal roles are inverted and the standards of desired behaviour are suspended.
Carnival preparations already begin on 11 November by carnival participants referred to as ‘the eleventh from the eleventh. The ‘Council of Eleven’ picks that year’s Carnival Prince on this ‘Crazy Day’. The oldest carnival parade in Flanders (since 1865) is the Carnival Parade of Maaseik in the province of Limburg.
On Carnival Sunday, the parade winds through the city centre, and there are street carnivals on Monday and Tuesday, occasionally followed by the burning of an effigy. Lastly, you can go to any café in the Carnival municipalities on Wednesday for the ‘herring happening’.