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Carnival 2024 - East Belgium celebrates

Published on 26.01.2024

From 10 to 13 February, two different carnival traditions can be experienced in East Belgium: the Rhenish carnival in the German-speaking municipalities and the Cwarmê in Malmedy. Find out what makes up these traditions and what customs are associated with them: 

The Rhenish Carnival

As is the case in Cologne, the carnival season also begins on November 11th in East Belgium. The number eleven symbolises the "Jecken" (carnivalists) and can be found throughout the entire carnival. The organising committee of the carnival - the Elferrat - is made up of eleven members and lays down the rules in eleven points. On Möhnendonnerstag/Altweiberdonnerstag (thursday before carnival), the women take control of the city at 11:11 a.m. sharp. They announce the start of the jolly hustle and bustle of the carnival. On Carnival Sunday, Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday, carnival parades with decorated wagons, dancing groups and proud carnival princes take place all over East Belgium. 

The Cwarmê in Malmedy

After four "fat Thursdays" of carnival celebrations, the Malmedy street carnival is opened on Carnival Saturday by the figure of the " Grosse Police". The power over the city is symbolically handed over to the carnivalists. The big parade on Sunday is the highlight of the street carnival. Here the typical masks and costumes of the Walloon carnival appear. They involve the spectators in mischievous but friendly games. During the Malmedy carnival, Walloon is diligently spoken, but even if you don't understand this language, you are welcome to join in the celebrations. Welcome to the "Cwarmê d'Mâm'dî".

You can find a lot more information about both traditions as well as the starting dates of the carnival parades here.

Carnival culinary delights

You can't have carnival in East Belgium without herring salad, Mutzen and Pöffele. 
- Recipe for herring salad 
- Carnival pastries in East Belgium

Special figures in the East Belgian carnival

There are many unique characters in East Belgium's carnival. If you want to know more about them, ask: 
- about the "Küsch" and the spectacle that goes with it in Kelmis;
- what is meant by "dän Alen, de Al on de Peijas" in Saint Vith;
- and about the role of the "Trouv'lê" in Malmedy.

East Belgium Tourist Agency npo
Hauptstraße 54
4780 Sankt Vith
+32 80 22 76 64
BE 0715 454 578 - RJP/RPM Eupen