8 Free and Kids-Friendly Carnival Events Across Belgium

If you’re new to Belgium or just passing through, you might not realize that the country boasts a lively carnival culture, celebrated in cities across the land. Some of these festivities are steeped in history and tradition, recognized even by UNESCO as part of the world’s cultural heritage. Take, for instance, the famed Binche Carnival with its peculiar tradition of pelting oranges at spectators or the satirical Aalst Carnival, known for its witty caricatures and the tossing of onions. In this post, we’ve curated a list of eight kid-friendly street parades and events in Belgium and the Brussels region, all of which are completely free! We’ll also highlight what’s specifically organized for children.

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Binche Carnival

Children enjoying Binch Carnival in Belgium

The Binche Carnival in Belgium is a vibrant celebration dating back to the 14th century, recognized as a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. What sets it apart is the iconic Gilles characters, dressed in vibrant costumes adorned with ostrich feathers and wax masks. A highlight is the “throwing of oranges” tradition, symbolizing good luck and warding off evil spirits. Children revel in the festivities, enjoying parades, confetti, and the lively atmosphere. 


Children Carnival:
Lundi Gras (Monday 12-Feb), dedicated to youth and children, starts at 10:00 with dances across cafes. By 11:00, confetti battles enliven downtown spots. At 15:00, Youth Groups share oranges at Grand-Place, followed by a “Circle of Friendship.” By 17:00, they head to the Gare district for a 19:00 fireworks show.

The Aalst Carnival in Belgium is a lively cultural event celebrated with fervor and enthusiasm. Known for its vibrant parades, satirical floats, and colorful costumes, it’s recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. What sets it apart are its irreverent humor and bold caricatures of contemporary events and figures. Additionally, a unique tradition of the Aalst Carnival involves the throwing of onions, adding to the eccentric atmosphere. 


Children Activities:
Mon 12-Feb, 13:00: “Jefkes van Sint-Anna” host a Carnival for kids. Children can enjoy activities like a parade, ball pit competition, coloring, and bulb throwing at Ezelsplein. There’s also a free afternoon show at Sint-Anna hall with gifts for all kids. Fun for everyone!
Mon 12-Feb, 14:30 Carnival celebrities throw out thousands of candy onions across the Grote Markt. 100 of these onions contain a number and each number carries a prize.

During Spring break (9 > 18 February 2024), Blankenberge celebrates Carnival with a week full of festivities. From the children’s carnival parade to the visit of the Vuûle Jeanetten and the carnival dive, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The highlight of the week is the vibrant carnival parade on Sunday the 11th of February. Featuring carnival groups adorned in colorful outfits and dozens of floats, this parade promises a spectacle not to be missed. Bring the whole family and join in the excitement of this beloved Belgian tradition in Blankenberge!


Children’s Carnival Parade:
Monday 12-Feb The Blankenberge Children’s Carnival Parade offers a fun-filled procession for youngsters. Registration is available on the spot. Parade starts at 15:00 and afterward, families can enjoy a lively children’s performance at the Market Square starting at 16:00

The Nivelles Carnival in Belgium is a vibrant celebration deeply rooted in tradition and community spirit. Renowned for its colorful parades, lively music, and elaborate costumes, the carnival captivates locals and tourists alike. What sets it apart is its rich historical significance and the unique blend of traditional folklore with modern festivities. From the grand processions to the vibrant street performances, the Nivelles Carnival offers an unforgettable experience for all. 


Children Activities:

17-Feb at 14:30 the Children Parade begins from the East station, featuring T’Chapelles, Nivellois Musical Corps, Miss’guinguettes, Aclote Carnival School, and costumed children. Followed by the Carnival princes and princesses election—get creative for a chance to lead Sunday’s parade in a carriage!

At 16:00 Participants gather at Waux-Hall (Grand-Place) for a magic show by Doug Spincer, aka Cédric LEHERTE. This enchanting performance is exclusively for children accompanied by an adult.

Experience the magic of the Venetian Carnival at Hélécine Castle on February 18, 2024! Enjoy a day filled with stunning costumes, captivating parades, and family fun. Witness fifty enchanting characters dazzling throughout the day and join your children in the grand finale parade. Don’t miss this exciting family event—the first of 2024 at Hélécine Castle! With multiple parades, children’s entertainment, and free entry via reservation, it’s an unforgettable celebration for all. Indulge in on-site snacks & enjoy free parking.

Parades at 10:00, 11:30, 14:30 & 15:30

Another Venetian Parade, part of the Marolles Carnival in Brussels, promises a vibrant celebration of culture and tradition. Adorned in elaborate Venetian costumes, participants parade through the charming streets of the Marolles district, creating a mesmerizing spectacle for locals and tourists alike. This colorful event showcases the rich heritage of Venice while embracing the lively spirit of Brussels’ carnival traditions. From enchanting costumes to lively music and street performances, the Venetian Parade offers a unique and memorable experience for attendees of all ages. Don’t miss this captivating fusion of Venetian flair and Brussels charm!

Join the festive spirit at the Saint-Gilles Carnival, where colorful parades wind through the streets from Morichar Square to Bethlehem Square. Expect a vibrant spectacle filled with costumes, streamers, and confetti along Rue des Etudiants, Rue Louis Coenen, Rue Dethy, Rue du Fort, and Rue de l’Eglise de Saint-Gilles, culminating at Bethlehem Square with exciting surprises awaiting.
After the parade people gather at Place Bethlehem. Last year there were kids animations and face painting for free. Let`s see what will be the surprises of this year!.

Get ready for the highly anticipated Coin du Balai Grand Carnival 2024, set to fill the streets with joy and color! The theme? Think pink! Shed your inhibitions and join us with your boldest attire. Enjoy inflatable castles, face painting, and of course, our bar starting at 14:00. Don’t miss the inaugural World Broom Corner Mijole Championship, a hilarious competition showcasing your broomstick skills! At 3:00 PM, the parade starts with giant figures and a lively band. Stick around for the Grand Fire at 7:00 PM followed by an open mic session and a rocking performance by “The Dead Poueeet Society” at 8:00 PM. Food trucks, waffles, and more ensure no empty stomachs. Bring your enthusiasm and get ready to light up the streets! (Firefighters are on standby).

All images are Creative Commons

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  • Wallace Espindola
    10/02/24 at 13:26

    Wonderful list! Thank you! 🙂

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