Friday, January 27, 2012

Let the Carnival Madness Begin

Carnival in Dunkerque!

  Ready or not, Carnival season is upon us. Ever since I set foot onto Dunkerque soil this past August, I have heard, almost on a weekly basis, about the extravagant Carnival celebration that takes place in the Northern French city.

  After hearing about it, and reading about it, I am as ready as I'll ever be to partake in the madness.

  For whatever reason (maybe this will be answered for me on Saturday), Dunkerque's Carnival, to my understanding, is the biggest in all of France. This year, the celebrations last from January 22nd until March 10th.

  Every weekend, for those seven weeks, there are processions and balls in Dunkerque, and smaller outlying villages. It is a common sight to see men wearing women's dresses, and women in fancy, colorful costumes. Everyone with their faces painted.

  On the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (mid-February this year), a parade makes its way through Dunkerque city center under the 'protection' of Reuze Papa and his family. The costumed Carnival-goers, who carry colorful umbrellas and sing carnival songs, and an Imperial drum major lead the way for Reuze Papa and family.

Procession with Reuze Papa and family.
  The procession (that involves herring-throwing in front of the city hall) goes through the city center, and ends in Jean Bart Plaza.

  On many Saturday nights during Carnival, the party continues at the Dunkerque Kursaal, where a series of balls are held (and also happens to be a five minute walk down the boardwalk from my apartment).

  The climax of the nearly three month celebration is, of course, Mardi Gras.

  This Saturday evening I'll be at one of the balls held at Dunkerque Kursaal. All I have been told is to avoid the middle of the room at midnight. I have no idea why, but if that's the ONE thing Carnival-veterans have made sure to tell me, you can bet I will be following their advice!!

  I have a costume, but I'll save pictures and descriptions of that for later! The theme of the ball is Bal du Chat Noir (Ball of the Black Cat). You can be sure I'll be sticking by my friend, V's side!

  It'll be an interesting night to say the least. We have a game Saturday night, prior to the ball. And depending on how that goes, I'll either be in a really good mood, or an incredibly bad one. So my level of tolerance may vary. Huge crowds of crazy people usually aren't my forte, but I'll do my best to have a great time and enjoy the Dunkerque Carnival-spirit!

  Hopefully I'll have lots of pictures, and a few videos for you all next week.

  Let the fun begin!



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