Getting Ready for Dutch Carnival Celebrations

The Netherlands is getting ready for a fun-filled carnival, Carnaval, Mardi Gras. No matter how you say it, it’s that time of year when costume-clad, crazy dancing party-goers all over the world celebrate Carnival.

If you were ever after a reason to party, Carnival season is it! With roots in the Christian celebrations leading up to Lent, a time of fasting and restraint, this is the time of year to let loose, and go all out.

Carnival is a 4-day festival mainly celebrated in the south of the Netherlands, with parades of lavishly decorated floats and scores of scantily dressed people. The provinces Limburg and Noord-Brabant are the predominantly Catholic provinces of the Netherlands, where most inhabitants celebrate Carnival.

The annual festival officially begins on Saturday after the mayor hands the symbolic keys of the city to Prince Carnival at City Hall. In many cities the carnival celebrations start already on Saturday morning and some places even on Thursday.

Brabant, Limburg and Zuid-Gelderland transform during the carnival days into a festive area. Cities such as Den Bosch, Eindhoven, Breda, Hertogenbosch and Maastricht are renamed to Lampegat, Kielegat and Mestreech. The popular carnival parades of decorated cars in the city’s will happen on Sunday and Monday.

Besides all the special celebrations and parties, the big parades still remain the highlight of carnival for many people. Nearly every city, from small to large, has one. The parades in Sittard (Sunday) and Den Bosch (Monday) come highly recommended.

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