Tifnotes version: If you have elementary school age kids, dress them up in their Halloween or Carnival costumes, pack a bag of confetti, silly string, or curly streamers to throw, and go to the Kinderoptocht in Sittard on the last Sunday before the Carnival season officially starts. Park in lots or nearby streets avoiding areas with the “verdunning hounders” sign. Pack drinks and snacks if you’d like or warm up with delicious hot chocolate or coffee at Bagels and Beans or Die Twee. Check the website above for dates closer to the next Carnival, but do go. It is a lot of fun! Oh, and don’t forget your camera! The photo-ops are fantastic!
Full version (where I ramble on a bit more): One week before the big Carnival parties start, Sittard has a special parade for the children. Winding through the old streets around the old market square, this parade will be enjoyed by your entire family. For almost two hours costumed groups travel along the parade route passing out treats, singing, playing music, and entertaining the crowds. Just the costumes and makeup alone make this a very special parade, but knowing that it’s a children’s parade during this season is nice too making it a family event that the kids will enjoy. Both in the parade and on the streets you’ll find people of all ages from infants sleeping in their decorated strollers to grandmothers and grandfathers with painted faces and silly hats. Among the crowds of spectators most all children are dressed in costumes and more then half the adults have on a hat, boa, or other colorful accessory.
Go a little early if you want parking in a parking lot. If you’re running late, park on the side streets, but look for signs that say ” verdunning hounders.” This means “for residents only,” so you will be ticketed if you park there.
The parade winds down the last half of Putstraat, turns just in front of Bagels and Beans, then circles back to the market, so we stood near Bagels and Beans (which just so happens to have delicious coffee and hot chocolate drinks in to go cups) and watched the parade from there. The crowds were big, but not horrible at that spot and it’s easy to turn and catch the last half of the parade again as it winds back to the market behind you.
The Dutch kids were well armed with silly string and armfuls of confetti and curly streamers. My girls would have loved that as well. So, now you know. Bring those things and it will just add to the fun. We saw plenty of tubas walking by thoroughly covered in silly string and even the police car wasn’t exempt from the decoration. The atmosphere is one of fun and is a perfect family event.
The website (only in Dutch) has information on the parade with times, the route, and photos of past parades dating back to the 1920’s. The Dutch word for parade is optocht, so the Groteoptocht link will get you to the information for the large parade that they have during the Carnival week itself. If you want more information on the Kinderoptocht (Children’s parade), click on that link for the route and photos of past children’s parades as well.
This year the parade was held on January 27, the Sunday before the Women’s Day, at 1333.