Carnaval: the Dutch either love it or hate it. Those who live in the southern provinces of Brabant and Limburg love it and celebrate it with passion. In Maastricht carnaval is called Vastelaovend. Virtually all businesses close in a three-day celebration of life, spring, beer and friendship, though in the province of Limburg there is an added element of poking fun at the government and politics.
People get dressed up and go from café to café, singing songs, dancing and drinking. There is no need to be afraid of this being a local festivity at which strangers are not accepted: as long as you dress up (preferably also paint your face) you are more than welcome. Go to one of the (pop up) carnaval shops in the centre of Maastricht for your own dazzling carnaval outfit. Carnaval is the biggest event of the year in Maastricht and you cannot miss this!