The final day of Carnival featured a handful of activities. Namely a concert, a children’s costume contest, and the closing ceremony. We decide that we just had to attend the closing ceremony (we were erroneously told that they burned ‘t Mooswief at the end of each Carnival and weren’t going to miss that) at midnight. To spice things up we also opted to check out the “Zate Hermeniekes-concours” (All-Band Concert) on the Vrijthof at 2:11 pm.
The concert on the Vrijthof had drawn a moderately sized crowd by the time we arrived but fewer people were costumed. Unsure about temperature we had only worn light versions of our costumes; which turned out to be fairly sensible. The bands had lined up in front a a stage with the Prince and his attendants. Between announcements and speeches they took turns walking in front of the stage and playing various traditional tunes.
We watched and listened for a little while and then wandered down towards the Markt square. On the way we found that all the bands not on the Vrijthof were instead all over the shopping area of Maastricht, marching and playing music. We even found some battling trumpets and drums on the steps of the VVV.
Later we suited back up for one more night of Carnival and had the good fortune of running into a few people from our Dutch class. At first it seemed almost quiet on the Vrijthof; one of the cafes we’d visited on Sunday was nearly empty. But soon we discovered that the party had just moved to the Markt square. As before several bands were out in force, marching, battling with drums, and otherwise just making music all over the place. We ended up in a cafe on the corner of the Markt square where the “orc” band had its home base and enjoyed a drink before moving on.
After a mediocre stop in a bar with a younger crowd who didn’t seem to really be into the spirit of the holiday (lame costumes and electronic music), we wandered back towards Grote Straat with the intention of finding another cafe in which to while away the last 20 minutes or so before midnight. That’s when the sea of people caught us all up and swept us up to the packed Vrijthof. Clearly many people had gone out specifically for the final event of Carnival.
With speeches and song the Carnival of 2010 came to a close at midnight. After three days of hearing the tunes, I’d finally discovered a few that I could sing along to (la, la, la) and we joined the people around us following the tune if not the words. Even though I couldn’t understand the speeches or follow precisely what was going on, I was swept up in the emotion and felt as comfortable in Maastricht as I have in a long time.
And no, there was no fire involved.
This is the fourth and final article in my Alaaf! Carnival 2010 Recap Series.