The city of Maastricht will once again burst with festivities during this year’s Carnival celebration! Everyone can take part in exciting, colourful street celebrations, dress in wacky costumes and watch the grand parade!
Carnival Maastricht 2023
In 2023, the Maastricht Carnival programme will be as follows:
Sunday, February 19
On the Sunday of Carnival each year, the Prince's Flag is raised, and at 12.11pm, 11 cannon shots start the Carnival. At 1.33pm, the big parade starts at Maastricht Central Station and processes through the city centre. The number 11 is known as the "fool's number" and is widely used throughout the carnival celebrations.
Monday, February 20
Carnival Monday is Family Day in Maastricht, with a family parade at 2.22pm, so this is the ideal occasion for families with kids!
Tuesday, February 21
The Zate Hermeniekes Concours parade passes by throughout the day, starting at 2.11pm. There's also a children's costume competition at 2.33pm at the Sterzaal.
The best Carnival locations
Check out the best locations to celebrate the Maastricht Carnival:
Maastricht Central Station
At 1.11pm on the Saturday before Carnival, Prince Carnival is given a festive welcome at the Central Station, after which he leads a parade from the station to the Markt.
Central Station also serves as the starting point for a great many Carnival participants, and many cafes can be found in the area, which will be open during the festivities. This is important to keep in mind if you are travelling to Maastricht by public transport.
Markt / City Hall
The Markt is where the Key Ceremony traditionally takes place, although this event is accessible by invitation only.
In addition, every Carnival evening at 8.33pm, the Cramignon dance starts on the Markt, and everyone can accompany the brass band and experience the ultimate Carnival sensation in the streets. The Markt is also home to the Mooswief, a statue of the patroness of the Maastricht, and many vibrant cafes line the square.
Vrijthof Square is the beating heart of Maastricht during Carnival. Alongside the passage of the grand Carnival parade, the kaleidoscope of festive sights and sounds and the multitude of crowded cafes, a variety of special Carnival festivities also take place here.
Carnival is officially opened at the Vrijthof on Sunday, by shots fired from the “Momus cannon” and by raising a Mooswief doll on a high pole. On Carnival Tuesday, the Zate Hermeniekes Concours (brass band competition) also takes place at the Vrijthof.
Onze Lieve Vrouweplein
Considered by many to be the most beautiful square in Maastricht, this area is a magnet for many Carnival goers. In the chapel of the Onze Lieve Vrouwebasiliek (Basilica of Our Lady), you can also light a candle during Carnival.
Areas that feature great celebrations are the Stokstraat district, the Jeker district, the Tongersestraat, the Wolfstraat and the Bredestraat.
Video credit: Sanish Kumar
Special cafes in Maastricht to visit during carnival
Special cafes in Maastricht worth checking out during carnival include:
Au Mouton Blanc
Listen to authentic Maastricht Carnival music, often with live performances.
The De Momus cafe was named after the association that started the Maastricht Carnival. You can still find many signs of its rich history!
In den Ouden Vogelstruys
Reputed to be the oldest cafe (1474) in Maastricht, this spot is also referred to as "the living room of Maastricht". During Carnival, the cafe is decorated with portraits of various former Carnival princes and, of course, a portrait of the new Prince Carnival.
See the famous bronze statue "The spirit of Maastricht" at the lively Mestreechter Geis cafe.
In de Karkol
Traditionally, during an evening in the run-up to Carnival, a parody is enacted here focusing on the selection of the prince, the handing over of the key, the Carnival celebration and the traditional final herring snack.
Ton Opgenhaffen, called the best beer tapper in the Netherlands by some, may be tapping his perfect beers at cafe La Clé.
Plan your 2023 carnival celebration in Maastricht
Maastricht is a great place to be for carnival. Plan your visit, arrange your costume, choose your venue of choice and enjoy!