My friend told me that it was carnival season in Holland and tried to explain to me what it’s all about. I didn’t pay much attention to it, having never experienced carnival before. When I flew over, he gifted me with a multi coloured scarf (red, yellow, white), saying ‘you won’t feel so left out from the festivities’. I awkwardly wrapped it around my neck, as I watched it colour clash with my outfit. We took a train to the south of Holland and was quick to notice the train was quite full for a weekend. When we arrive at the station, I felt I had walked into a Halloween party, colours and costumes were everywhere. My friend laughed as he took in my expression ‘welcome to carnival’.
In the morning we set out for breakfast, to a place we go all the time. We couldn’t even come close to it as it was jam packed with people and turned into a bar. It was 10 am, and I could see beers being passed around over our heads. My friend informed me all restaurants are turned into bars during the carnival days, so it’s one big party after another.
Next we had a little challenge between the two us, ‘spot the prince’. He was giving a speech to the crowd as their new appointed leader for carnival, as the Mayor of town was no longer in charge. It was only in the south of Holland where carnival was celebrated and the prince strictly had to come from the North. He was the newly crowned frog Prince.
What I really liked about carnival was the weird costumes I saw. Most costumes were based on peoples alter ego, what they always wanted to be and now had the chance to do so, others used the chance to protest or showcase what they felt were injustices, and other didn’t make any sense, but hey! That’s carnival!
Since it’s winter, it’s the best excuse to stop by Starbucks for that warm cup of something. Starbucks was having its fair share of carnival, We saw a young spiderman who wasn’t so agile and his dad had to keep picking him up. Jack sparrow walked in, full in character earning laughs, from everyone around. A random colourful stranger walked up to me and said ‘allow me to introduce myself, my wife says I have an ugly head’ in the local dialect while shaking my hand, I was too surprised to say anything, in a robotic movement I shook his hand while smiling.
We wanted to watch a carnival parade, so we took the train to a town called Boxtel (theme colour -purple and white, animal-duck). It was quite spectacular, as people squeezed in their high windows to get a better view. We quickly found a spot, we were quite exited as we just made it in time.
We laughed, pointed, took pictures and clapped as the parade went by us. As one bingo themed bus, full of kids playing with giant bingo balls went by us, a lucky spectator won a ski set. My favourite was when a giant chilli went by us, and the caption was ‘we want to make Indonesian food even more spicy’. I hoped not, it already too spicy for me.
We waved goodbye to the Prince as him and his entourage passed us by,ending the parade. We walked away happy, having enjoyed ourselves.
Carnival represents time to fun with friends and family, a time to let loose and just be oneself. My expectations were thoroughly met as the Town turned into something never seen or experienced before. Simply, it was a delightful different holiday?.