Carnaval: A foreigner’s perspective

Well! We have just wrapped up our portion of the famous Dutch Carnaval celebration. (I say “our portion” because the party still goes on, but after 2 nights of drinking and craziness, we are hibernating at home and drying out!)

This was my very first Carnaval experience and, let me tell you, it was an extravaganza for the ages. For our first night, we went to Tilburg and danced the night away at a packed bar. And then…there was yesterday. We went to Maastricht, which is basically the epicentre of all things Carnaval. (If you don’t know where these cities are, I’ve included a map page on my blog, here!) There were thousands upon thousands of people, all dressed up, having the time of their lives! I was so surprised at the sheer magnitude of people who show up for this. At home, I’m used to one night of Halloween a year, and participation varies from “I’m too cool for Halloween” to “What a great chance to get drunk while looking like Superman,” and also, we can’t forget the popular: “Yay! I can dress like a ho and no one will judge me!”

Anyway, we spent the evening with masses of people, dancing and drinking in the streets (because, yes, here that’s legal!). It was great! It was a little chilly, about 7 or 8 degrees, so we made sure to bundle up under our costumes. Here’s what we wore:

I would have to say that the Dutch have a very interesting way of “dressing up.” I guess, being used to North American Halloween, I’m familiar with the concept of picking something specific to wear, and then either buying or making that costume. You know, like, a Policeman or Lady Gaga or whatever. However, it seems that when it comes to Carnaval, the typical costume here is just a miscellaneous haphazard grab-bag of randomness. In a good way, though.

For example, it wouldn’t be out-of-place to see someone wearing cowboy boots, a tutu, a construction worker’s vest, a boa, an eye patch, bunny ears, silver facepaint, and carrying a stick in the air with a toilet brush attached. It’s like…whatever. Popular items, I noticed, were things like tambourines, pirate hats, and anything with feathers.

Below is a collection of some of the weirder (yet awesome) things I saw yesterday at Carnaval. Coming soon is some more photos of us at the festival! :D

Big pimpin' on a make-shift BBQ.

Not sure what you're rollin' there, buddy, but I think you've had enough of it.

"Oooh, shinyyyy"

Tambourine-playing Trojan warrior. No big deal.

Hello there.....madam. (?)

This officer declares bras illegal and confiscates them.

This is not even a real dog. It's a stuffed animal on a string. :-|


Rough night for this chicken.

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4 Responses to Carnaval: A foreigner’s perspective

  1. To see our inebriating undertaking from the viewpoint of a foreigner makes it all the more appreciable. I just realized I rarely dressed as coherent as this year’s Carnaval. With a little help, of course.

  2. Catherine says:

    I love the woman with the walker and the “dog” on a leash! hilarious

  3. Jess says:

    i think i laughed for a solid hour over the guy wearing a dog hat and nana nightgown

  4. Barb says:

    I’m with Catherine on the woman pulling the stuffed dog….I laughed out loud. The banana-phone is a close runner up. Can’t wait to see the rest of your pics…too funny.
    Gotta love the Dutch- great spirit!

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