Dating back to the 14th century, Binche Carnival is an ancient festival and the most important event in the calendar of this small Belgian city. Renowned throughout Europe, the most notable aspect of the carnival is the procession of the gilles on Mardi Gras, the last day of carnival. The gilles are a troupe of around 1,000 male performers dressed in elaborate red and gold costumes. They also wear extravagant hats made of ostrich feathers and throw oranges to the crowd as a sign of good luck. There is a wide programme of carnival events which take place up to seven weeks before Mardi Gras, including balls, feasts and street dancing.
Binche Carnival takes place in February, although there will be plenty of pre-carnival activities taking place in the weeks leading up to the main parade. If you’d like to attend the carnival, you have a couple of transport options. You can fly from the UK to Brussels and then take the train from Bruxelles-Midi for the 1 hour journey to Binche. An alternative is to take the train straight from London St. Pancras, changing at Bruxelles-Midi and on to Binche, with a total journey time of just under four hours.
Although Carnival is undoubtedly a time of drinking, partying and merry-making, the Belgians do have some strict carnival rules to follow. For example, the most privileged position to attain is that of a gille, the male clown-like performer who is the symbol of the festival. On Mardi Gras day, he dresses in a particular order, surrounded by close relatives and then the first gille is collected from his home by a drummer, who mustn’t leave his side for the rest of the day. After collecting the rest of his troupe one by one, they make their way to the Town Hall where they can finally let their hair down to the beat of the drums.
Make the most of your trip to Binche for the carnival by staying in the very best rental accommodation for you. Book with Eventful Stays and you can choose to stay in apartments, penthouses, bed and breakfasts, studios or townhouses…all within walking distance of the carnival festivities via public transport or on foot. Check out our accommodation in Binche.
If you’re travelling to Binche for the carnival, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do in this enchanging Belgian city, such as: Musée International du Carnaval et du Masque and the Collegiale Saint-Ursmer Church.
To find out more information about the carnival, please check out the carnival’s official website where you’ll be able to download the complete carnival programme and find out more about the costumes, masks, gilles and history of the Carnival of Binche.
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