If you want to blast away the January blues, Maastricht is the place to do it! In February for three days everyone will stop work and party hard for the annual carnival. Rosie Khdir finds out more…
Endless street parties, colourful parades, outrageous costumes and food and beer galore; this is what is to be expected during carnival time in Maastricht.
This carnival is a celebration of life and is a time when the world gets turned upside down. It is thought that it is a historical mechanism of escape for those who feel stripped of their freedom and gives them the chance to be an individual.
The festival starts with the hoisting of the celebratory flag among sounds of cannon fire in the Vrijthof Square, all in the presence of the “greengrocer woman”, who is a traditional symbol of good fortune. Every year there is a new “Prince Carnaval” and his “Council of Eleven” who get given the key to the city.
Then the party really gets going as the hundreds of people who have adopted vibrant guises and masks, join the parade of colourful floats that weave throughout the town. Pubs and restaurants usually clear the floors so that all that is left standing are the beer taps.
Festival goers enter pubs then talk, dance, sing special carnival songs and drink with complete strangers and skip on to their next watering hole. It is an event of pure freedom and fun and is the largest in the southern region of The Netherlands.
This is a celebration of life, fertility and nature, all topical themes for a post winter period. It is traditionally a Catholic festival and in keeping with their Lent traditions, many people do not eat meat during the celebrations.
This year the festivities begin on 15th February and look set to be better than ever! Visit the official website for more details.
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