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13 February 2020

Celebrating carnival in South Limburg?

From 23 to 25 February 2020, South Limburg will be red, yellow, and green once more. Read our travel information to make sure you're prepared before you depart and can drive safely.

When are the parades and activities?

  • Auw Wieverbal (‘old wives ball’) in Valkenburg on Thursday 20 February 2020.
  • ‘Inhalen van Prins Carnaval’ (procession and reception of the Prins of Carnival) to Maastricht on Saturday 22 February at 2:11 PM.
  • The ‘Boonte Störrem’ parade in Maastricht on Sunday 23 February at 1:33 PM. The children's parade in Valkenburg will leave at 3:11 PM. The ‘Grote Optocht’ (big parade) in Margraten will start at 2:11 PM. The ‘Grote Optocht’ in Heerlen will start at 12:11 PM, the one in Sittard will start at 12:55 PM, and the ‘Waereldsjtadvastelaovesoptoch’ (global city carnival parade) in Geleen will start at 1:49 PM.
  • At 1:45 PM on carnival Monday, 24 February, the ‘Grote Optocht’ will start in Brunssum. At 1:11 PM and 2:11 PM on the same day, the ‘Grote Optocht’ will start in Valkenburg and Meerssen respectively. The ‘Grote Optocht’ in Heerlerheide will start at 1:11 PM on carnival Monday. The one in Munstergeleen will start at 2:11 PM. The one in Beek will start at 1:30 PM
  • For a list of the starting times of all parades in South Limburg, please visit: optochtenkalender.nl/nederland/limburg.html

Opening hours of shops

During carnival, the shops will be closed from Sunday 23 to Tuesday 25 February in Sittard-Geleen and Maastricht. However, supermarkets and carnival shops will remain open. In Heerlen, shops will be open between 12:00 noon and 5:00 PM. The 'Woonboulevard' will also be open during the carnival days. For the exact opening times, please visit the websites of the shops in question.

Travel cheaply and safely with the Maastricht party bus

If you're planning on celebrating carnival in Maastricht, then make sure to use the Arriva night party bus, which is running during the late hours of 22 to 25 February. The buses run between 12:35 AM and 3:35 AM and go from Boschstraat/Maagdendries stop to various locations.

  • The regional party buses (bus numbers 150, 153, and 154) go to Gulpen, Eijsden, and Valkenburg and cost €7.50 per person per day.
  • The city party buses (bus numbers 151, 152, 155, 156, and 157) go to Heer-De Heeg, Amby, Bunde-Meerssen, Malberg, and Daalhof–Wolder and cost €5 per person per day.

You can buy a four-day ticket in advance: €15 per person for the city buses and €22.50 per person for the regional buses. Please visit Arriva's website for more information on the party bus service, how to order tickets, and timetables.

Tip: It is cheaper to buy your ticket in advance online on Arriva’s website, as this means your outbound trip to Maastricht on the regular bus is also free. You can also use your Dutch debit card to purchase a one-way journey ticket from the driver on the party bus. 

By public transport

Please note that the bus routes will change because of the carnival events. Public transport may also be busier. Bear in mind that your travel time may take longer during the carnival days. The departure times of trains in South Limburg remain unchanged.

During the carnival school holidays (Sunday 23 to Saturday 29 February inclusive), Arriva's buses in Limburg run according to the holiday service timetable.

  • On Sunday 23 and Monday 24 February, buses will run according to the Sunday service timetable.
  • On Tuesday 25 February, buses will run according to the Saturday service timetable.
  • From Wednesday 26 until Saturday 29 February, buses will run according to the holiday service timetable.

Please visit Arriva's website for more information on its bus services and timetables during carnival.

By bicycle

  • In Maastricht: During carnival, the sheltered bicycle-parking facilities in Kesselskade, on Markt square, and on Vrijthof square in Maastricht will be closed from Sunday 23 to Tuesday 25 February. The sheltered bicycle-parking facilities will be closed as access routes will be obstructed or closed off due to the activities in the city. You can park your bicycle in one of the many bicycle racks in Maastricht or in the guarded and sheltered bicycle-parking facility at Maastricht's main railway station. 
  • In Heerlen: park your bicycle for free in the guarded bicycle parking facility on Akerstraat.
  • In Sittard and Geleen: If you are going to watch the parade in Sittard, then park your bicycle for free in the guarded bicycle-parking facility at Tempelplein square or on Paardenstraat. In Geleen, you can park your bicycle in the guarded bicycle-parking facilities on Elisabethstraat.

By car

If you travel to Maastricht by car during carnival, then take advantage of our parking tips.

  • You can travel smart and cheaply by parking at P+R Maastricht Noord and taking public transport to the city centre. Here, you can park for free and continue your journey on bus number 10, which leaves four times per hour and costs €2.15 per person for a day-return ticket. Alternatively, you can continue your journey to Maastricht's main railway station on bus number 30, which leaves two times per hour and costs €2.15 per person for a day-return ticket. A group ticket for groups of three to five people costs €5.40.
  • Wherever you park in Maastricht city centre, you will reach your destination in no time in this compact city. We advise parking on the side of the Meuse you are coming from to reduce your chances of encountering congestion on the Noorderbrug and John F. Kennedybrug bridges over the Meuse. For up-to-date information on spaces in car parks, please visit our website.
  • Please note that paid parking applies in Maastricht's city centre during carnival between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM on working days. During Sunday opening hours and public holidays, paid parking applies between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
  • Make sure your car is properly locked, and remove all valuables from your car.

Designated drivers during carnival

Carnival is a popular festival that is celebrated by many people in Limburg. But if you drink alcohol, you could be a danger to your own and other road users' safety. Please note that the police will be conducting extra alcohol tests before and during the carnival period. Arrange who in your group will be the designated driver and stick to that agreement to ensure you and other road users are safe. Designated drivers will receive a ‘Bob’ (Dutch for designated driver) key ring.


If you have any questions, please submit them on our ’contact us’ page.

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