Common Carnaval

20 January till 9 February 2016

Carnaval is one of, if not the most powerful rituals known to the city of Maastricht, a city that cherishes its customs. Traditions, both old and new, coexist alongside one another. It is all a matter of giving each other space. This is what makes Maastricht a good city to reside in, to live life in, and to visit.

Carnaval is one of the oldest of these traditions. The ritual that culminates in the Carnaval festival days consists of a wide variety of events and gatherings of people, in large or small numbers, even when Vastelaovend (the Limburgian name for Carnaval) is still just a date on the calendar to look forward to. Creating costumes, building floats, playing music, enjoying food and drink. We do all of these things together as a group.

The theme of the Maastrichtian Vastelaovend is to connect through ‘Plezeer en Sjariteit’ – fun and charity.

Common Carnaval is a project by, for, and with the citizens of Maastricht, those born in the city as well as refugees and newcomers. 

One of the pillars of the Mestreechter Geis – the pride of any Maastrichtian – is a tolerant way of life. This is why we want Carnaval – its preparation, the parade, and the ensuing celebrations – to be a wholehearted welcoming for all refugees. We want to meet with refugees and help them to participate and be included in our community. We can do this by sharing the Carnaval rituals, by creating costumes together, by building objects and a float together, and by taking part in the parade together.

A core value of celebrating Carnaval is the questioning of society, and everyone's social role therein, in a humorous, curious, and respectful manner. Therefore, we have formed a temporary Carnaval Society, a union to be led by a Refugee Prince and Princess who are 'ein vaan us' (Limburgian for ‘one of us’, referring to the people who speak the Maastricht dialect).


Common Carnaval received local and national attention* and raised questions about how we shape the notion of coexistence in our city. With the arrival of refugees and newcomers in Dutch cities, the meaning of the 'co-' in coexistence is more critical than ever. Bureau Europa, het Geluid Maastricht and iArts will, therefore, review Common Carnaval to evaluate what we can learn from the project.

Join us on March 30th!
Can the deployment of artistic, design, and creative processes introduce newcomers to local traditions and rituals? Do such collaborative processes contribute to the shaping of our society? What are the opinions of the refugees and new Maastricht citizens? Following the project's success, how do we work with the knowledge gained and the relationships built? What opportunities lie herein for our community?

We invite you to activily join the debat.

The event is moderated by Gable Roelofsen (het Geluid Maastricht) and Saskia van Stein (Bureau Europa)

*After an expression of support from Mayor Penn-te-Strake, a large number of public and private organisations contributed to Common Carnaval, including Stichting Elisabeth Strouven, Tout Maastricht, Code 043, iArts Maastricht, Not Just A Number, Het Geluid Maastricht, Fashionclash, COA, Bureau Europa, Zuyd Hogeschool, Gemeente Maastricht, Provincie Limburg, Stichting Kanunnik Salden, de Tempeleers, Vluchtelingenwerk, Jongerenraad Maastricht. Common Carnaval also worked with the designers Ebby Port, Dear Hunter, Jonathan Vos Photography, Studio Noto and FashionClash.

Date: 30 March, 20:00 – 21:30
Location: Entrance Bureau Europa> then Muziekgieterij
Language: Alternating English/Arabic/Dutch
Admission: Free

Common Carnaval