Aalst Carnival

February 10, 2013

Me two years ago with orange make-up, fake ridiculous lashes and other weird make-up, how it should be. Do you see that tampon in the nose of the guy on the left by the way? Yep.

Starting today, I'll be partying for three straight days. In a silly costume. I wanted to tell everyone a bit more about this because it's not really known well. For the record, I live in Belgium, in the city Aalst. I've lived here my whole life so carnival has actually been a big part of my life, especially because my parents are involved in it too. Before you read my bad explanation, take a look here. Aalst carnival was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. The pictures you see here are some random party shots but if you just search for "carnaval aalst" or "carnaval oilsjt", you'll get to see plenty of floats and other party people.

Me (on the left) with three friends two years ago. Me and the girl in the middle were nerds by the way, see one of the following pictures. Oh and that blonde female with the hat? That's a dude. 

Every year, our city has a carnival that lasts three days. These are the three days before Ash Wednesday. This carnival has existed for centuries really but the actual count started when it became an event created and managed by our city council. Basically, it's a party that lasts three days. Our whole city will be packed with thousands of costumed people celebrating. There also a fair 'attached'. Meaning that the three weeks around carnival, every child in the city is super stoked (because there's a huge fair, duh).

My dad in the middle of his show for becoming Prince Carnaval. Well, not from Aalst Carnival actually but from a smaller one. But that's for another time! (He totally won by the way.)

There are carnivalgroups, each with their own names and their own members who make their own costumes and float each year (every group has a different subject each year). These groups are all part of a big parade on Sunday. Plus, each year a Prince Carnaval is chosen. On Sunday, he symbollicaly gets handed the key to the city and he's kind of the mayor those three days. Oh and don't forget our 'music'. There are thousands of covers in our own dialect.

Me (on the right) and a friend three years ago.

On Monday, that same parade goes out again but there are no rules this time because the groups are only judged on Sunday. So you'll see many people missing (probably drunk somewhere) or people with a hangover, floats in a different order and sometimes even broken things. On Monday evening, there's an award ceremony where the hard work of the groups pays off. Well, if you get a place at least. But even if a group gets last place, they'll forget about it after a couple of hours and just keep on having a blast.

Me and my girlfriends two years ago. We were obviously nerds. 

Then on Tuesday, there's another kind of parade that exists entirely out of men dressed as (ugly) women. This is a tradition that goes way back. Back then, the people didn't have any money for a decent costume so they just grabbed some things out of their wife's garderobe. On Tuesday evening at last, there's a last ceremony where a kind of statue is set on fire. This marks the end of the three day event but there's still a whole night following where people keep on celebrating.

Me and my boyfriend two years ago. I'm totally forming an energy ball in my hands by the way. 

I kind of have a feeling I didn't really explain it well but there's just so much to be told and this is already way too long. I'll be taking pictures of the parade so I'll make sure to show these this week and I'll probably tell a bit more about it then as well. I'll show a picture of me and my boyfriend tomorrow, see you!


  1. Ik vond dat toch een goeie uitleg, nu weet ook ik er wat meer over. Erg eigenlijk dat ik er nog maar zo weinig over wist! Veel plezier dit jaar, ik kijk al uit naar de foto's :-)

  2. This sounds really neat. A very cool tradition to have year after year. Have fun!!!!!

  3. Haha, leeeeuk! Ik heb met mijn nuchtere Groningse hoofd echt geen carnaval gevoel maar mijn Limburgse vriend wilde toch wel dat ik mee kwam dit jaar, en zodoende werd ik een keukenprinses hihi

  4. that is so cool your city has such a strong carnival tradition & is even in unesco for it!! your pictures of your friends remind me a lot of when i lived in Spain for carnival, only your town seems to get much more into it w/ so many parades- looks so fun!


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