The origins of “Carnaval” can be traced back centuries. It was originally a period of indulgence and revelry before the Christian observance of Lent.

In the Netherlands, Carnival became a way for communities to come together, indulge in festivities, and collectively indulge before the austerity of Lent. Over time, Carnival evolved into a vibrant cultural phenomenon, blending elements of religious observance, folk customs, and social satire.

Carnival holds particular Dutch cultural importance in the southern part of the Netherlands, defined as the areas below the rivers Maas, Waal and Rhine. Whether you find yourself in the bustling streets of Maastricht, the charming squares of ‘s-Hertogenbosch, or the lively town centers of Breda, Carnival festivities take place throughout the southern provinces of Limburg and North Brabant. These regions come alive with elaborate parades, vibrant costumes, and a contagious spirit of merriment. While the essence of Carnival remains somewhat consistent across the country, each region adds its unique flair, making it a dynamic and diverse celebration.

As an expat, a dive into Dutch Carnival is sure to be an unforgettable cultural experience. It is a time of exuberance and revelry, where people dress up in their favorite (and often goofy) costumes and flood the city centers for big parties. Officially spanning from Sunday to Tuesday, this year it will take place from Sunday 11 February, the festivities often kick off earlier, sometimes as early as Friday, ensuring ample time for merriment. City centers will come alive with music, laughter, and revelry. Parades will wind through the streets, featuring elaborate floats and dazzling displays, captivating audiences with their colorful spectacle.

Dutch Carnival invites expats and locals alike to immerse themselves in a whirlwind of costumes, parties, and fun. From bustling city centers to quaint town squares, the fun of Carnival beckons everyone to join in the celebration. So, don your most outlandish attire, embrace the joyous chaos, and enjoy a slice of Dutch culture at its best.