Get out, have fun, it's carnival in Belgium!
Winter is almost over, spring is in the air. Carnival is back in Wallonia: get out your confetti, streamers and masks!
As genuine popular celebrations, the carnivals of Wallonia are the perfect opportunity for a great family day out. Festivities begin with Mardi Gras, at the start of lent.
The folklore can be very different depending on the region or the town, but throughout Wallonia celebrations include oompah music, masks and lots of confetti.
It's Mardi Gras, so put on your best masks
The parades and other carnival festivities in Wallonia have no reason to envy the famous carnivals of Rio, Nice or Venice. The Gilles of Binche are undoubtedly the most famous outside of Belgium. The Cwarmê of Malmédy and its Haguète take you on a journey of discovery of Wallonia's carnivals.
Directly inspired from the neighbouring Rhineland carnivals, the Eupen festivities are an unmissable event for the local inhabitants. The carnival parades are enjoyed with friends or family all over Wallonia, with confetti-throwing floats, colourfully costumed carnival characters, masks and face painting of all kinds.
Traditionally, the carnival season starts with lent, on Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday). Carnival offer everyone a chance to feast before the period of fasting.
Laetare and bonfires
In some Belgian regions, the carnival parades take place on the Laetare, halfway through lent. Just like the carnival parades, the Laetare parades bring together princesses, cow-boys, teddy bears, Zorros, and enthousiastic Smurfs.
On Laetare, you should visit the Blancs Moussis of Stavelot. These impressive characters have represented our carnivals as far as China. As for the Chinel of Fosses-la-Ville, with bumps on his front and back, looks superb in his embroidered costume.
Another popular tradition is making a comeback in Wallonia: bonfires. It's during these bonfires that locals burn the Bonhomme Hiver (Winter Man character who represents winter) or sometimes, a witch. The most popular of these large bonfires is without contest the bonfire of Bouge, close to Namur.