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Midway through lent, rejoice! It's Laetare

The Laetare carnivals have no reason to envy the Mardi Gras festivities. Do you fancy a bit more traditional folklore, confetti-throwing floats and masks?

The Blancs Moussis of Stavelot have been all the way to China to represent Walloon folklore. They are famous far beyong our borders and intrigue surrounds their long red noses, masked faces and white costumes.

Armed with pigs' bladders inflated like balloons, they amaze and playfully attack the crowds. Another town, another character with the Porais of Tilff. Real-life giant leeks, these strange creatures descend upon the town for Laetare and dance around Djôsèf li r'piqueû the giant. The party ends with a delicious soup... made of leeks!

In towns of the région des Trois Frontières (East Cantons) like Welkenraedt, carnivals maintain Rhenish tradition, centring around a Carnival Prince. Each shares the common battle cry of Alaaf!

The Chinels of Fosses-la-Ville are impressive in their richly decorated costumes. These characters from the Commedia Dell’Arte have two bumps: one on the front of their torso and one on their back.

In a completely different way of celebrating carnival, Andenne invites you to the Carnaval des ours (Bear carnival). The bear is the town's mascot and the carnival parade ends with teddy bears being thrown from the floats by the King and Queen of carnival.

Bonfires to celebrate the end of winter

The large carnival bonfires, ceremonies during which the Bonhomme Hiver (Winter man) is burnt are making a comeback in Walloon folklore. The most famous of these large bonfires is undoubtedly the one in Bouge, close to Namur on the first Sunday of lent, known as the Dimanche des brandons (Quadragesima Sunday).

Nowadays there are no less than 7 large bonfires that are lit and only visible from Bouge. Other towns also hold ceremonies to burn the Winter man. For instance Gozée or Vierves-sur-Viroin, where they burn legendary character Johan Simon in public to the sound of brass bands.

Bursting with folklore, the cavalcades stand out with horse-drawn floats. The cavalcades are linked to the carnivals due to the colourful costumes in the parade and the crowds alike, the themed floats, the giants, the soumonces…

You can see them in the province of Liège, in Herve, in the province of Namur, in Auvelais and in the province of Hainaut, in Jemappes and in Fleurus, during Easter weekend.

See also

Syndicat d’initiative des 3 frontières

Walloon Traditions - Bonfires section, Wikipedia (page in French)