The Carnival of Nivelles is one of the largest in the Walloon Brabant region. Each year bringing hundreds visitors to the small town of Nivelles Grand Place. A colourful 4-day carnival to celebrate the arrival of spring, which sees the town burst into life, joy, dancing, colour, with the residents who are always ready to throw a party.
As I have only been in Belgium less than a year, I didn’t really know what the Nivelles Fête was all about, and didn’t really know what to expect. We heard from neighbours that it was a 4-day long party and that people paraded the streets around the Grand Place, throwing oranges. Intrigued by this fact, we adventured down to the main square of Nivelles.
Saturday turned out to be the Children’s Carnvial, with all the kids dressed up from spiderman to unicorns. Sunday is the main Carnival procession, with the folklore groups and the companies of Gilles, parading the streets throwing confetti and oranges as a way of bringing in spring and getting rid of winter.
The orange throwing part of the carnival was interesting.. I expected it to be people handing out the oranges, but it fact it really is a throwing. At the parade moves through the streets, and a group of Gilles past by, you really have to watch your head for incoming oranges. If a window of a building was opening, it became target practice. How many can we get in this one?
My boyfriend James and I did our best. I hoped to get one or two, but I believe we came home with around 20 oranges.
Monday night, is more parades from the Gilles and the burning of the straw figures, another way to get rid of winter. The carnival finished with closing fireworks over Nivelles Grand Place.
Here’s some pictures from the Carnival.
All in all, the carnival was a fun-packed weekend, with lots of things happening. All the traditions of the orange throwing and the burning of the costumes was a bit bizarre for someone that’s never seen it before. It just seemed like a good reason for the locals to have a drink and a good time. Afterwards, the streets of the town were covered with confetti and oranges.