What’s on: Carnival season kicks off in Flanders


Carnival parades take over towns and cities this weekend, but Flanders Horse Expo and Brussels’ festival devoted to animation also make our agenda picks this week


It’s Carnival weekend across Flanders, and that means colourful parades, folkloric costumes and occasionally bizarre activities. Dozens of cities and towns host carnival celebrations, so it’s easy to find one near you.

Flanders’ longest-running Carnival parade is in Herenthout, where they in fact have two parades on consecutive weekends. The parades are known for the funny sketches and dances that participants act out. Other solid Carnival celebration are at the sea, with both Knokke-Heist and Blankenberge pulling out all the stops. But it’s Aalst, of course, that is the region’s biggest Carnival celebration. It kicks off on Sunday with a massive parade that includes hundreds of groups in extravagant costumes and dozens of ornate floats, often satirising political events in Belgium and Europe. Do be aware of the current controversy around Aalst, however: Because of a float depicting broad stereotypes of Jewish men in last year’s parade, Aalst lost its recognition as Unesco-protected heritage.


Carnival celebrations continue in different cities well into March, so if you can’t make it this weekend, check out this schedule for other opportunities. From 23 February, across Flanders

Flanders Horse Expo

You don’t need to be an equine expert to have fun at the biggest exhibition of horse-related activities in the country. There are all kinds of competitions and demonstrations involving dressage, show jumping and driving (when they pull a carriage or wagon). You’ll also meet Shetland ponies and the even smaller mini horses, as well as police horses and Belgian Frieslands and Fjords. Check out the barrel races or the “Extreme Cowboy Race”. A great family outing for the first weekend of the krokus school holiday. 20-23 February, Flanders Expo, Maaltekouter 1, Ghent

Silver Triennial

Germany’s prestigious event for designers working with silver is being held at the Diva diamond museum this year. Stage since the 1960s, it is both an exhibition and a competition featuring work by some of the best silversmiths in the world. Some of the designs are utilitarian, including this year’s first prize-winner, a set of quirky cups in various sizes and colours by German silversmith Juliane Schölß. And some designs are simply stunning, like the one pictured here – origami in silver by Tzu-Hsiang Lin of Taipei. Until 19 April, Diva, Suikerrui 17, Antwerp


Brussels big festival of animated cinema is back and has some fine features on offer. One of them is Marona (pictured), the story of a little dog looking back on her life under many owners. With characters illustrated by the brilliant Flemish graphic novelist Brecht Evens, its altering style is bold, colourful and very distinctive. Also on the Anima bill are I Lost My Body, a poignant look at the attempt of a severed hand to locate the young man to whom it belongs, and Les Hirondelles de Kaboul, the story of one couple’s struggle to survive Taliban-controlled Kabul. There are films for all ages, and subtitles vary. 21 February to 1 March, Flagey & Palace, Brussels

Photos: Flanders Horse Expo courtesy event; Silver Triennial, The dancing of emptiness, origami out of silver, Tzu-Hsiang Lin