Belgium Carnivals


Many Belgian towns celebrate Carnival, typically with costume parades, partying and fireworks.

The main parades of the Carnival of Binche stretch over the three days before Lent. The most important participants are the Gilles, who go out in their traditional costumes on Mardi Gras and throw blood oranges to the crowd.

Carnival in Binche has a history dating back at least to the 16th century. In 2003, the Carnival of Binche was recognised as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Shrove Sunday: colourful day where the future Gilles giants wear fancy costumes. Parade at 3 pm. Until the early hours, the drums resound all over town.

Shrove Monday: children’s parade where the violas are played all morning long. Children’s „Rondeau of Friendship” on the Grand’Place. Fireworks at 7.30 pm.

Shrove Tuesday: Start of the festivities at daybreak. The Gilles entertain the town from 9 am. Parade at 3 pm. The Gilles show off their hats and throw oranges. In the evening there will be a final rondeau at 7.30 pm and a fireworks display in the city centre.

Mardi Gras is the only day one sees the „Gilles” in their various rites from daybreak to the midnight fireworks ending the carnival.

The „Gille” is a local carnival character whose hay-colored costume decorated with appliqued lions, crowns and stars in the Belgian colors of red, yellow and black is stuffed with hay and belted with heavy, jangling bells.

Other large carnival celebrations are held in Aalst and Malmedy.

Some Belgian cities hold carnivals later during Lent. One of the best known is Stavelot, where the Carnaval de la Laetare takes place on Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. The most well-known participants are the Blancs-Moussis, dressed in white and wearing long red noses. They parade through town throwing confetti and beating bystanders with dried pig bladders. Another large carnival celebration on Laetare Sunday is held in Halle. (Source: Wikipedia)