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Malmedy Cwarme Lu long ne 47(c)eastbelgium


According to the tradition of the Rhineland or that of Wallonia – carnival in East Belgium is celebrated by the locals and guests with great relish and in colourful costumes. It is well worth paying a visit to the region in spring to see the processions as East Belgians love a celebration and are happy to share this tradition with their guests.

Carnival Agenda


Rhenish Carnival in East Belgium

Rhenish Carnival is all about leaving winter behind you and enjoying life again with fun and dancing before Lent. The typical Rhenish Carnival is also to be found in the German-speaking municipalities of East Belgium, complete with a carnival prince, processions and fancy-dress comedy events. The carnival committees are often influenced by the traditions of the Rhenish Carnival in the Walloon communities – with the exception of Malmedy where they celebrate “Cwarmê” – although these traditions are also combined with their own customs.

Who is being celebrated?

The central figure in the Rhenish Carnival is the carnival prince. He is officially introduced to the “people” at a so-called prince proclamation several weeks before carnival. From that time on he is the prince of his home town or village.

Where do the celebrations take place?

The villages of Kelmis, Raeren and Eupen in the northern part of the German-speaking community are regarded as the carnival strongholds in East Belgium, with St. Vith being among them in the south. A host of fancy-dress balls, processions and festivals take place here during the carnival period from Fat Thursday to Ash Wednesday.

Places such as Oudler, Reuland, Deidenberg, Amel, Büllingen, Bütgenbach and Manderfeld in the south or Hergenrath, Kettenis and Lontzen in the north also offer an extensive programme of exciting events during this period.

When do people celebrate?

In the carnival strongholds, the “silly season” starts on 11 November. The number ELEVEN symbolises the “carnival revellers” since it is above the number 10 and thus a closed set, and before the sacred number 12. As with the secrets of the Tarot card games, it visualises the victory of wisdom over insanity. To round off this symbolism, the carnival organisation committee is composed of eleven members, who form the “Council of Eleven” and lay down the body of rules in eleven points.

Fat Thursday/Old Women’s Carnival Thursday

From 11.11 a.m., the women take over their home town. Even mayors and other public figures must yield to them. Dressed in costumes and in a cheerful mood, the women make their way through their towns and villages, dancing, singing, having fun and turning men’s heads.

Carnival Sunday

This is the highlight of the “silly season” in many places. Carnival processions take place in a lot of villages. Decorated floats, groups of people on foot and music groups accompany the carnival prince and his entourage through the village before getting together to celebrate afterwards.

Rose Monday

In some East Belgian towns and villages Rose Monday is decidedly the highlight of the festive period. It gets its name from the Cologne Carnival and the customs of the Pope who consecrated a golden rose on the Monday before Lent in the Middle Ages.

Violet Tuesday (Pancake Day)

Influenced by the Catholic Church, this day used to be called “Confession Tuesday”, being the last day before the beginning of the fasting period. Nowadays, Violet Tuesday is used rather more for celebrations and to announce the end of the “silly season” at about midnight.

Ash Wednesday

The end of carnival and the start of the 40-day fasting period.


The Cwarmê in Malmedy

Each year, a centuries-old tradition is revived at the Malmedy Carnival during the three days of revelling before Ash Wednesday. On the four “Fat Thursdays” beforehand (petites haguètes) the masked people make their way from pub to pub and poke fun at the guests, but in a nice and friendly manner (known as “lawer” in Walloon).

Two to three months before carnival, the musical societies start rehearsals to practise the new carnival songs which are required to fit in with the topic of that particular year. Seamstresses are busy cutting out and sewing the costumes, while the male choral societies prepare the “role plays” (satirical street theatre) for the Monday.

The “Grosse Police” open the festivities on Carnival Saturday and the mayor hands over his power to the "Trouv'lê". The large procession on Sunday is the highlight of the street carnival with 1,500 people wearing the typical masks and costumes of the Walloon Carnival. The spectators are also regularly included in the action.

The “role day” on Monday is actually the preserve of the residents of Malmedy, as only “insiders” understand the funny jokes about the town dwellers. It all comes to an end on Fat Tuesday (Pancake Day) when the “haguète” – the symbolic figure of Malmedy Carnival – is burned down.

“Walloon” is spoken at all of the events. Even if you don’t understand this language, it doesn’t stop you from eagerly joining in the fun. Welcome to "Cwarmê d'Mâm'dî".

Typical things to eat at Cwarmê

In the 1870s, the best restaurants of the town mainly served oysters – which still came from Ostend at that time – , caviar, goose liver and truffled meat. Of course not everybody could afford such dishes and many contented themselves with "andouille" (sausage made from pork or veal tripe), which was significantly cheaper. A peculiar salad made from herrings, beetroot and potatoes was also eaten at this time and is called “Salade russe” (Russian salad).

This dish is beneficial in that it quickly soothes the stomach after "pèkèt" (juniper schnapps) and beer have taken their toll. Although this salad is no longer the main source of nutrition during carnival, it has still remained the dish of the “Fat Days”. Other ingredients have been added to it since the 19th century and every housewife has her own variation on the recipe.

>> Further information on the carnival in Malmedy


App with info on the Cwarmê

The carnival in Malmedy via an app with all information, dates, history, treasury of songs and background details. The clever thing about it is that you can even take an order for drinks.

> Download on Google Play