A regal yet tongue-in-cheek celebration of silliness and fun

6 February 2024
The colours rood, geel en groen (red, yellow and green) are popping up everywhere in the Maastricht Region. Why? We are all getting ready for Carnaval, the biggest and best party of the year! Will you be joining in the celebrations? Gezellig! Then perhaps we should explain a bit about the royally dressed people you may see in processions about the place – because at Carnaval, they are everywhere.

Every city has its own Prins (prince)

De Tempeleers is the official Carnaval association in Maastricht. Their Kanzelarij raod (protocol committee) selects the new Prins Carnaval each year in secret from a number of nominees. A few weeks before Carnaval, during a special event called Prins Oetrope (proclamation of the prince), the selected Prins is paraded through the city to much pomp and splendour while wearing a large mask to hide his identity. The new Prins is announced at 15:11 precisely on that day and revealed to the masses on the Markt.

"Ziene Hoeglöstigheid" (his majesty) Roy I is the Stadsprins Maastricht (the city prince of Maastricht) for 2024. However, outside the Maastricht city walls, there are other princely people. For example, Thy I may call himself Stadsprins Waereldsjtadvastelaovend in Geleen. In Sittard, Nick II has been installed as the 91st Stadsprins. In Heerlen, Stadsprins Cor I of the Winkbülle wields the sceptre. Then there are the jeugdprinsen (junior princes) and the princes of the other Limburg municipalities and Carnaval associations, often again with their own junior princes.

What does the Prins do?

In the week before Carnaval, burgemeesters (mayors) in the Maastrich Region hand over the keys to the city, town or village to the elected Prins with a cheerful yet official ceremony. By doing this, the mayor hands over their authority, grants the Carnaval associations access to the streets and the Carnaval festivities can begin. The key is returned on Carnavalsdinsdag (Tuesday night) or Aswoensdag (Ash Wednesday), the day after Carnaval has finished. There are again wonderfully diverse and interesting traditions around this depending on where you live.

What a Prins Carnaval mainly does is party. But make no mistake they have a busy programme filled with lots of ceremonies, parades and visits to sports and social clubs, schools, elderly people's homes, shopping centres and the list goes on. It is a special time of togetherness, fun and joy that is revered by many in the Maastricht Region. These events start weeks before the actual Carnaval celebrations. The Prins is assisted in all his important work by his raad van 11 (council of 11), often his Prinses (princess, which is his wife or girlfriend), hofnar (court jester) and one or more princely assistants.

In addition, it is customary for the Prins to make the rounds of the village, town or city. You will recognise each Prins Carnaval by his hat, often decorated with pheasant feather and medal and of course he will not be seen without his sceptre.

Are you going to celebrate Carnaval this year? Then be sure to check out this article where we mention a few Carnaval highlights in the Maastricht Region.​​​​​

Photo © Jean-Pierre Geusens