Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Carnival in Belgium

Many Belgian towns celebrate Carnival, typically with costume parades, partying and fireworks. Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during January and February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, masque and public street party.

One of the most ancient and representative carnivals of Wallonia, Belgium is the carnival of Binche. Its famous « Gille » has been fascinating people all over the world. 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.

The reputation of this Carnival is due to the original and authentic character of Binche traditions : it has always been held on the feast traditional days, and the preparation within the families and the carnival societies involved have merely changed for centuries.

Binche is a very small city. It has big walls, a 600-year-old city hall and castle ruins. You can visit this city in a few hours but don't expect to find a lot of shops or hotels there. The best is to visit Binche if you're staying in Mons.

Other large carnival celebrations are held in Aalst and Malmedy.

The carnival in Aalst begins with a procession, in which the locals present their own interpretation of the previous year's events. Expect large-scale caricatures and plenty of good old slapstick comedy. At night the city is full of life!

Aalst itself is a cozy provincial town half way between Brussels and Ghent, built on the shores of the Dender River. Aalst boasts one of the eldest belfries in Belgium. Together with the City hall and the St Martin's church, it dominates the town center and offers it a timeless beauty.

For more information about other interesting towns and to book a hotel, go to

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