10.02.2013 - 12.02.2013 5 °C
From Sunday 10 February to Tuesday 12 February 2013, Maastricht, the Carnival capital of the Netherlands, will once again be the centre of vibrant and colourful street celebrations. For three days, the “Prince of Fools” – also known as Prince Carnival – and his entourage will lead the city and the celebrations in accordance with their own crazy protocol, as people come from far and near to celebrate Carnival. Starting on the 11th day of the 11th month, the Carnival itch begins to spread like wildfire as increasing numbers of people start to prepare costumes, materials and floats for the grand Carnival parade (the “Boonte Störrem” in the local dialect).
Maastricht Tourism Board
During Carnival everyone in Maastricht seems to stop what they are doing and get dressed up. Regardless of age, everyone puts some serious effort into what they are going to wear. Most people do not work some or all of carnival week and most stores are shut, except for larger chain stores and bars of course. The vibe is really different to anything else in australia; theres no scuffles or fights, no massive police prescence and no barriers patrolled by security guards. The atmosphere is so friendly that many people bring their childeren into the town to enjoy the street celebration. Standing on the streets outside cafes and bars, you can buy beer out of a real glass, without entering any sort of restricted area; you can just wander off with a beer down the street and no one will care during carnival.
The costumes and performances around the streets are really what makes it such an awesome and cohesive event. Its nothing like a themed birthday party where a few guests decide to put in a half assed effort. Instead the majority of people put in a lot of time and money into making thier costume a memorable one, or those at least have a convincing attempt/store bought costume. Hours of face painting go into creating some costumes, with people dressed up like characters from The Hobbit.. Larger groups are particularly noticeable when they dress up together, or a group of well rehearsed drummers or brassband wander around playing these uniquely southern Netherlands songs. Everyone knows the words to these songs and will stop and sing along, or play along as many individuals also take an instrument with them.
Overall carnival was a great experience, unlike anything I've ever been to before. But I think it is has a very unique vibe held closely by Maastricht and it's neighbouring villages who strive to keep this street festival going in the right manner with strong links to its roots.
Also, had a week of introductory uni classes mostly. Uni is a lot more intense than at home due to shorter blocks. Nonetheless the work is interesting and relevant to practical business life.