A destination of traditions and folklore, Liège province hosts numerous carnivals and laetare every year. In February and March, set out to discover the Cwarmé in Malmedy, the Blancs Moussis in Stavelot, as well as the Prince Carnival and Rosenmontag of East-Belgium. Come with your friends or family to enjoy these so very special times where floats, confetti, colourful costumes and face-paints converge.
Let’s start with a bit of historyFor numerous decades at the approach of Candlemas, in Liège province and across Europe, residents felt the need to celebrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring. This joyful event was symbolised, among other things, by disguises, the appearance of masks that invaded the street, or by walking about from house to house.
These masquerades gave rise to the carnivals as we now know them and have been passed on from generation to generation while accruing greater importance in our citizens’ festivities.
Head to Malmedy for the famous CwarmêThis carnival lasting 4 days and classified as part of immaterial heritage by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation is one of the best-known in Belgium.
Starting on Friday at midnight, it comes to a close at the same time on Shrove Tuesday with the procession of the carnival associations and the “burning” of the Haguète at the end of the day.
The climax is without a doubt the big carnival parade organised on the Sunday afternoon, which welcomes thousands of people. At this parade, you will be able to admire its famous “Haguètes”, this carnival’s iconic characters, who try to catch spectators' ankles with their “skin-snappers”.
Celebrate according to Rhine tradition in East-BelgiumOf Rhenish tradition and influence, the carnivals organised in East-Belgium are typical of this region of the country with its carnival princes, parades and pre-carnival sessions.
Among the most famous of these carnivals, don’t miss those of Kelmis/Calamine, Raeren, Sankt Vith or Eupen.
Two characteristic days particularly mark the carnivals organised in the Cantons of the East. First of all comes Fat Thursday, also called Old Women’s Thursday (jeudi gras), a day during which the women assume power in the city. But above all, there is Rose Monday or “Rosenmontag”, which hosts the biggest carnival procession in the East of Belgium and features more than a hundred groups and numerous floats that parade through the streets.
Don't miss the laetare in Stavelot and its “Blancs Moussis”This celebration is certainly one of the best known in Belgium, mainly thanks to its unmissable “Blancs Moussis”! These symbolic characters, dressed in white and wearing a mask, the nose of which is shaped like a carrot, walk through the city and jump out of the procession while bombarding spectators with confetti and whipping them with their pig’s bladders.
While the festivities begin on the Saturday evening, the first big meeting is set for the Sunday with the procession that ends on a high point with the rondo of the Blancs Moussis on Place Saint-Remacle. A big fireworks show and the “Night of the Blancs Moussis” in the Abbey’s cellars then follow in the evening. Then, Monday afternoon is devoted to the associations.
And many more...While the carnivals of the Cantons of the East, which include Malmedy and la Calamine along with the laetare in Stavelot, are the best known ones, others are also very popular. Come to Tilff and admire the groups whose famous “porais” make up this carnival’s renown.
The Lower Meuse region also abounds in this type of events with numerous carnivals organised, including those in Bassenge, Eben, Emael, Fexhe-Slins, Glons, Hermée or Wonck.
Finally, if you are near Huy don’t miss the carnivals of Amay and Waremme, which draw thousands of spectators every year.