Binche Carnival – A Belgium Celebration on a Budget

Francois Lenoir/Reuters

The Binche Carnival, Carnaval de Binche, is one of Belgium’s most popular street parties. Taking place a few miles south of Brussels, the UNESCO World Heritage event, is now recognised as one of the biggest carnivals in Europe.

Perfect for budget travellers looking to have an extravagant time in Belgium, there are plenty of low cost hostels available in nearby Brussels.

Always a colourful occasion and tremendous fun, Binche will be full of medieval costumes and beer tents over Lent. Shrove Sunday and Fat Tuesday are the best days to attend the carnival.

It’s important to book your hostel early if you want to experience one of Belgium’s craziest street festivals. The Binche Carnival is globally recognised as a ‘must see’ event by travellers. Taking place 40 days before Easter, the festival is a final party before Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Gilles Binche Carnival
Picture: Louis Weckx

As the biggest annual event in Belgium, the Binche Carnival starts on the Mardi Gras (Shrove Sunday). Dating back to the Middle Ages, the highlight of the carnival is watching the Gilles of Binche parade outside the City Hall.

Up to 1,000 Gilles will be parading in the city centre, wearing outrageous medieval costumes hung with bells and decorated with camp fluffy laces.

Binche Carnival Orange Tossing

Be warned the Gilles are not exactly harmless! In keeping with tradition the Gilles throw oranges at the crowd on the Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Local shops usually cover up their windows during the carnival season, as things can get pretty squishy over Lent.

It might be tempting to toss one back, but tradition forbids you from doing so. Instead, turn the other cheek and have a few local brews in some of the town’s massive beer tents.

Binche Carnival Beer

Only half an hour away from Brussels, the carnival takes place this year from February 15th and 17th. Apart from the festivities, Binche is an attractive market town with a thunderous medieval city wall dotted with 27 towers.

They are considered to be the best preserved ramparts in the Benelux district. Meanwhile it also has a pretty town square embellished with a Renaissance town hall and belfry.

Where to stay in Brussels

Theater Hotel Brussels

  • Brussels Hello Hostel is a super friendly hostel only three minutes from the city by subway. Perfect for young travellers looking for a clean and relaxing stay in Belgium. Rooms are available from €18.73.
  • Hostel Grand Place is known locally as Brussels’ best located hostel. Situated in the heart of the city centre, it’s perfect for backpackers and low cost travellers. Rooms are available from €18.73.
  • The Theater Hotel Brussels is a charming boutique venue situated in the city centre. Rooms are available from €23.63.
  • MEININGER Hotel Brüssel City Center is a designer friendly hostel with superb modern facilities. Perfect for the upmarket flashpacker. Rooms are available from €24.05.