Carnival rivals in the South, Limburg vs Brabant!

Carnival rivals in the South, Limburg vs Brabant!

There can be quite some rivalry between Carnival celebrating regions. Read up on how the festivals are different, and find out which one you would enjoy most!

Limburg vs Brabant

The differences between the regions go back to the origins of the Dutch Carnival. There are two different kinds: The Keuls, or Rijnlands, Carnival in Limburg and the Bourgondisch Carnival in Brabant.

Each carnival association chooses its own "prince of the mad" who takes the lead in all festivities with a crazy entourage. The biggest association in the city becomes the city province.

In Limburg, the most important Carnival cities are Venlo and Maastricht, while Brabant’s Carnival is focused in Den Bosch.

In Brabant, Carnival is a party you attend in a set location, usually in a party tent, while Limburg’s Carnival is everywhere, out on the streets and in the bars.

The biggest difference is that in Limburg everyone dresses up to stand out, while in Brabant people generally dress down. In both regions it is a time for all classes to mingle, with no regard for status or riches.

Brabant: Den Bosch

In Brabant, everyone is equal during Carnival, and no one is above mockery or ridicule.

The traditional outfit is the boerenkiel or farmer’s smock. Wearing this, you can’t discern between a posh banker and the lady who cleans the toilets.

Den Bosch (or “Oeteldonk” as it is called during Carnival) focuses on tradition and protocol, and could be called one large theatre play in which the audience is welcome to play along.

You can find cosier surroundings and traditional local music in the smaller villages. Brabant tends to stick to local themes, which may be hard for outsiders to understand, but everyone is welcome to join the party!

Photo by Anita Kalmane and Michael Krimgen Carnival parade in bed

Limburg: Maastricht and Venlo

Limburg will be teeming with festivities during Carnival, or vasteloavend

Maastricht mainly celebrates Carnival on the streets, where Samba bands play and everything carries the official Carnival colours: red, yellow and green. Venlo tends to celebrate inside, with Joekskapellen; special orchestras.

In Maastricht outrageous costumes, or "pekskes", are the norm. Costumes are often home-made and as ludicrous as possible. Some of the best costumes can be seen at the "Boonte Störrem", or street parade.

Carnival parade in Mestreech

'T Mooswief

Maastricht has a Patroness of the Carnival: ‘t Mooswief (the Vegetable Woman).

In 1954, Carnival Prince Sjaak reveiled a statue by Charles Vos, honouring the local market women. 

Every year, the Carnival Prince places a garland of vegetables around the statue’s shoulders, and replicas of ‘t Mooswief are put up on poles to oversee the festivities.

Ready to party

Now you can make sure you don’t insult someone from Limburg with a Carnival tradition from Brabant!

Want to know more?
 Find more general information on the Dutch carnival here.
 For information on upcoming Carnival events in various cities, click here.

Special thanks go to Janneke Thomassen, a real southern Carnival-goer, for supplying her local knowledge.

Alexandra van Kampen


Alexandra van Kampen

English and Japanese theatre and culture are my forte. My mother was raised in England, and my grandmother in Japan. I studied Japanese Language and Culture, and Film and Photographic...

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