Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Netherlands Carnaval 2013

We couldn't have planned our arrival to the Netherlands any better. Here less than a month, and we find  ourselves participating in one of the craziest parties on the planet, CARNAVAL in the NETHERLANDS!  I know what you're thinking. Carnaval in the Netherlands? I thought the same way. We usually picture the beads of Mardi Gras in New Orleans or the extravagant outfits of Carnaval in Rio. But after witnessing 5 straight days of celebrations, my perception sure has changed.  The Dutch can party too.

Having experienced Mardi Gras in New Orleans years ago, I will say there were many similarities: parades, floats, costumes, bands, and of course plenty of beer.  But I got the sense that Carnaval in the Netherlands was a bit more family and community focused.  It was neat watching families all weekend (and through Tuesday) gather in the town center, dressed together like pirates and clowns, celebrating as if they didn't have a care in the world.  And last night in Oss, during the closing ceremonies, Vicki and I joined a parade of townspeople through the square.  For a few brief moment, we didn't feel like outsiders at all, we were members of a community.  We followed the procession to a parking lot where a brass band was playing "My Way" by Frank Sinatra.  Then the Carnaval Prince set the paper mache animal ablaze, symbolizing the end of Carnaval and the beginning of Lent.

Vicki took so many amazing pictures it was difficult to post all of them.  So, I had a thought; let me try to capture the essence of Carnaval in the Netherlands in just 11 pictures.  Given the mystique behind the number 11 in Carnaval Culture I thought that was a good "round" number.  It is said, that 11 is the "fool's number," coming between the spiritual number 12 and the perfect number 13. There is also something about a connection between the word elf and 11.  Could explain all the elf and gnome costumes we saw.  It was also interesting how most of the big events started at 11 past the hour.

May I present, the craziness of Carnaval, in only 11 pictures.  Enjoy.

Carnaval Oss In Eleven Pictures

Carnaval Den Bosch in Eleven Pictures

Berghem Light Parade in Eleven Pictures
Can You Spot Bono, Gene Simmons, Slash and Steven Tyler in these pics? No for real, can you?

Okay, I cheated.  There was no way I could depict days worth of amazing sights and fun in only 11 pictures.  Forgive me?  We've got tons of video footage as well. Here's a look at some of it.

                       My apologies for the vertical video

Lastly, here's a short video of the burning of the Ox. Anyone catch the Sinatra being played?  LOVED IT!

How was your Carnaval experience?  


  1. Since I can't be in New Orleans or Rio, it was a lot of fun celebrating Carnival with you.

    1. Glad I could contribute to your Carnival experience! Thanks for reading. Cheers!

  2. Wasn't this crazy? We didn't get the light parade though- the boys would have loved it!
    One observation I had- was how little drinking and driving seems to be an issue. These events revolved around alcohol but yet it wasn't like anyone was even remotely concerned about driving. I realize it's mostly because a) they're walking and b) bublic transportation but wasn't it also funny to see high school kids with beer? We were at AH and a kid came in with a beer. It was nuts. Anyhow- this was an interesting and fun experience for sure- glad we got to be a part of it!

  3. Definitely put a light parade on your list for next year and dress WARM! Great observation about D&D. I thought about that too and your explanations are spot on with the walking and public transportation. But you left one very important mode of Dutch transport out, BIKES! Is there a law against drinking & biking here? Didn't look like it during Carnaval.

    Since you brought it up, I'll add the D&D issue is a BIG deal in Ireland. When we were there this summer, we learned that the penalties for DUI are so severe that most folks take taxis. The lineup of taxis out front of the pubs on the weekend (and even the weekdays) was incredible.

    Speaking about beer and AH, I got carded yesterday for buying two bottles. I must have looked like a young rebel rouser ready to get pissed off a bottle of Leffe Blond and a La Trappe Quadrupel. I could see if I had a case of Bavaria or Heineken but really for those two beers I got carded. Well, it made for a funny story because I just stared blankly at the cashier as she was asking me for my ID in Dutch. It wasn't until she made a gesture with her fingers that I realized she was asking for my ID. So I gave her my PA driver's license. I think it rocked her world. She studied it for what seemed like hours. It was worth it, the La Trappe is delicious.

    Thanks for the comment and thanks for reading! Cheers.