Find all the information needed to fully experience the Maastricht Carnival: when, where and what to see and do.
If you are looking for the best carnival in the Netherlands – head straight to Maastricht Carnival! Maastricht is a beautiful city rich in monuments and traditions and one of the best places to see in the Netherlands. For a few days, the city explodes with sounds and colours: almost everybody in town wears splendid elaborate costumes full of fantasy and humour, funny parades and characteristic carnival music. The enthusiasm and joy fill the air and they are highly contagious! Everybody is invited to join the celebration!
To have a little sneak peek of how the Maastricht Carnival looks like, see the Gallery of Maastricht Carnival with dozens of photos.
See the Gallery of Maastricht Carnival
1. When is the Maastricht Carnival?
Dates of the Maastricht Carnival: 23rd – 26th February
2. Which is the best day to go to the Maastricht Carnival?
23 February – that’s the main day of the Carnival with the grand Parade.
3. What is the name of the Maastricht Carnival?
Locals don’t use the word “carnival” – they call it (Mestreechter) Vastelaovend – which is useful to know not to get confused ;) The word is in Limburgish – the language spoken in Dutch, Belgian and German provinces around – and that’s the language in which the carnival songs are sung.
4. What is in the Programme of the Maastricht Carnival?
Saturday – 22 February – the Day Before
- At 1:11 pm the introduction to the main event starts: the Prince of Carnival of Maastricht arrives at the station and leads a festive parade to city hall.
- The statue of the Patroness of the Maastricht Carnival – Mooswief – “the vegetable woman”, located on the Markt, is decorated by the Prince of Carnival with a wreath made of fresh vegetables.
- In the evening, the traditional party starts in the city hall in Markt, however, it’s a closed event. Anyway, you can join the happy crowd on the Markt!
Sunday – 23 February – the First Day of Maastricht Carnival
- At 12:11 pm, 11 cannon shots announce that the Carnival begins!
- At 1:33 pm the main event of the Maastricht Carnival takes place!! The grand parade of people dressed up in colourful costumes starts at Maastricht Central Station and follows to the city centre.
- The Prince’s Flag is raised.
- The doll of Mooswief is pulled up in Vrijthof.
Monday – 24 February – the Second Day of Maastricht Carnival
- At 2:11 pm, a family parade starts –the Carnival Monday is a Family Day in the city.
Tuesday – 25 February – the Third Day of Maastricht Carnival
- At 12:30 pm, a traditional brass bands competition called Zate Hermeniekes Concours takes place.
- At 23.33, closing ceremonies start in Vrijthof under the Mooswief doll.
- At midnight sharp, the carnival ends and there is the “mourning procession” at Bredestraat.
5. Where are the main Carnival events?
- Maastricht Central Station
Be there on Saturday at 1:11 pm:
What’s going on? The arrival of the Prince of Carnival and the parade to the centre.
Be there on Sunday at 12:11 pm and Tuesday at 11:11 am:
What’s going on? The carnival opening with the cannon shots and pulling up the Mooswief doll.
The grand parade passes here. On Tuesday, there is a traditional brass bands competition called Zate Hermeniekes Concours. And throughout the carnival, celebration, dances and music take place here and in the bars around.
- Markt – the main square
Be there every evening during the Carnival at 8.33pm:
What’s going on? The traditional Cramignon dance starts and everyone can join!
Family parade at the Maastricht CarnivalOther areas where Maastricht Carnival is celebrated
- Onze Lieve Vrouweplein
6. Where to stay during the Maastricht Carnival?
Best hotels in Maastricht for a group of friends
- Botel Maastricht – a very original option – a botel = boat hotel, In great location, warm and fun! Best for groups 4-6 people.
- Hotel d’Orangerie – excellent location in the city centre, friendly, pleasant and very clean.
Best hotels in Maastricht for a couple
- Hotel Matuchi – romantic interiors and great quality/price ratio.
- NH Maastricht – extremely comfortable, with nice decor and great breakfast, often in superb special offers.
- B & B Kasteelhoeve Borgharen – Maastricht – an exceptional place, located in an enchanting historical building, full of charm. Wonderful!
- Urban Residences Maastricht – excellent location right in the city Centre and stylish interiors.
7. Where to eat & drink during the Maastricht Carnival?
- In den Ouden Vogelstruys is the oldest cafe in Maastricht, existing since as much as 1474! During Carnival it exhibits photos of the Carnival Princes year by year.
- Restaurant Grandcafé Momus (Vrijthof 8) boasts a long history, stylish old-fashioned interiors and a great atmosphere.
- Grand Eétcafé De Vreede (Markt 62) is a cozy cafe in the very centre of the city, where you can celebrate the Carnival in the most traditional way: with dancing and drinks!
- Café De Poshoorn (Stationsstraat 47) is an elegant bar with great breakfasts and dinners and a good selection of beers.
Now… Get into the mood of the Maastricht Carnival! See the video of the last year’s celebrations!
The cover photo by Jeroen Moes under CC BY-SA 2.0
See the full Gallery of Maastricht Carnival!