The Carnival of Maastricht, Netherlands

Sunday, April 6, 2014

From one Carnival of Venice to the Carnival in Maastricht, this year I decided to join a couple of big parties. For me this was a return as I had lived in Maastricht for 3 years in the past and I was so excited to come back to this wonderful city, the city with a Mediterranean spirit, as I love to call it!
Diaries of an explorer


It is for sure one of most powerful feasts you can have in Europe and since I have experienced many of them around Europe: I can undoubtely say this! :-)
Ready to party????

What is a lively city during the year, it becomes a festival of colours and music that like a virus will contaminate you and you cannot stop partying. The atmosphere is something magic and I hope to transmit what you can only experience there through images and videos.

So let's start this movie: this is the Tradition of this city! I mean that the Carnival season starts on the 11th of November of the previous year. Then once you get close to the Carnival, Maastricht hosts many concerts and finally approximately at the end of January there's the election of the Prince, that will get the city keys during the Carnival days from the major.


When you have all these events, it seems like an itinerary and as soon as the main days are approaching, the emotions start to grow until they blast during the three main days.

Although the Carnival gets its edge from Sunday to Tuesday ( the "Fat Tuesday"), some people start the party on Thursday, where the "Blauw Sjuut" goes from the railway station to the town hall.
Diaries of an explorer
Here you can have the unique opportunity to access to the Town Hall ( as it is normally closed to the public). And, you can have free beer lol! :-)

Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Friday is the "Employees' Carnival" (Ambtenaar Carnaval) and it's the unofficial opening. Normally people are used to join the party together with their colleagues. This year, unfortunately I was not there, but anyway I consider it the real beginning. However, here you can see how the bars are decorated during these days. Here you can see one of the Carnival associations ( there's one per district): the main one is called "Tempeleers".
Diaries of an explorer The colours of the Carnival are green, yellow and red.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Normally on Friday and Saturday, people do not wear costumes or masks, except during the shows. Saturday is a "transition day", after the Employees Carnival and before the official beginning. The music bands called "Zatenharmonie" are already playing: it feels like everyone is warming up for the next days.  At 13.11 the Stadprins arrives to the Maastricht Central Station and there's a little ceremony there.
Diaries of an explorer
There is also an important event: the symbolic delivery of city keys from the Major to the Prince, that now "rules" the next days. Before that event, the Prince brings a chaplet, vegetables and fruits to the statue of Mooswief, the "lady" of the Carnival.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
The Carnival is celebrated by everyone, from the children to the granparents.
Diaries of an explorer

And finally it's Sunday: the official beginning of the Carnival!!! Here it's almost impossible to stop partying and enjoying every single minute. It starts around 12 o' clock: the stunning scenario of Sint Servaas Basilica and the Sint Jahn's Tower in the Vrijthof looks like the perfect place for the opening ceremony.
 The prince and the Tempeleers hit 11 times a little cannon
The opening is completed after the 11 shots and most of all after the ascension of Mooswief, for  sure the most important symbol of the Carnival.
Diaries of an explorer
Let's get the party started! We were ready!!!
Diaries of an explorer
The roads are filled and crowded and a chaotic confusion made of colours, music ( the local music from the province of Limburg), dancing people, samba groups and beer! :-)
Diaries of an explorer

Diaries of an explorer
You can also meet the Prince with the Tempeleers around.

Diaries of an explorer

If you are lucky, as we were, you can even join the party from inside: here we were on the stage of Stockstraat, where there's the Mestreechte Geis statue (the Maastricht spirit, that reminds the Commedia dell'arte, and this statue clearly reminds one of the most famous Italian masks, Arlecchino),  during the performance of one of the most famous local artists. Ziesjoem. It's difficult to translate into words the emotions you can feel during those moments, but the "landscape" made by people with all the colours and the incredible atmosphere were astonishing.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer

Tuesday is for sure the most emotional and intense day, as it also represents the closure of this main event. That's day when Mooswief goes down at midnight and I recommend anyone to feel this moment: it's really difficult again to me to translate emotions and feeling into words, but it's something really intense and special. People are singing: there's a general sensation of sadness for the feast that is coming to an end but also the happiness to have lived some great days.
Diaries of an explorer
The Vrijthof, one of the main squares of Maastricht, that hosts Mooswief, is completely crowded and it's something impressive.
Diaries of an explorer
Diaries of an explorer
Well if the words and the images are not enough yet, this is my short movie I did in order to see what you could live and see.

What you should not miss:

  • The "Employees Carnival" ( or "Workers' Carnival) on Friday night
  • The delivery of the keys from the Major to the Prince on Saturday ( but you have to buy the tickets before and the ceremony is in the Maastricht language or dialect)
  • The opening at 12 o' clock on Sunday in the Vrithof
  • The "cream" of the feast: from Sunday to Tuesday - I love in particular Monday and Tuesday
  • Follow the band of the Prince ( around 18 every day)
  • One of the concerts of the local artists
  • The closure on Tuesday at midnight

Where to sleep and travel tips:

  • Book your hotel or hostel or bed and breakfast in advance as they could be full during these days. Please check the posts about Maastricht to find a good accomodation and some tips, especially in the second post.
  • One day is enough to visit the city: it is recommended as it's one of the top travel destinations in the Netherlands ( also off the beaten tracks) : however you may consider to visit also the surroundings ( like Liege, Visè, Aachen, etc).
  • The Carnival of Maastricht is one of the main events and big parties you can experience in Europe: it's for sure the most important in the Netherlands.
This post also will open the new section of my blog called "The Dutch Corner", based on my experience and on the years I lived in the Netherlands as expat and in particular in Maastricht, located at centre of the so-called Euregio, that includes the Dutch Limburg, the province of Liege in Belgium and the German province of Aachen.

In the next posts I will write some travel highlights around this experience, especially a post about Maastricht.

2 commenti:

Cocoa and Lavender said...

What a wonderful experience! It reminds me (from the photos) of Ne Orleans at Mardi Gras! And that is a particularly nice photo of you! ~ David

Marco Zannin said...

Yeah David, it was the 4th time I joined the Carnival of Maastricht. It is not that known, but extremely powerful: if you like this kind of feasts, you should join it once in your life too! :-) I'm curious about the Mardi Gras in New Orleans: it is similar to this Carnival? to me New Orleans means the city of jazz and blues! :-)

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