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From: 2016.02.19 To: 2016.02.21
Weaving together two great Belgian traditions for one unruly three-day festival, the Carnival of the Gilles of Binche is powered by beer and inspired by masked men called "the Gilles." For four-hundred year these clowns with white wax masks and green glasses patterned after the Napoleon III epitomize the city's festivities. The Gilles can be seen across the city for six-weeks prior to opening day, as they roam the streets "drumming-up" anticipation in a very literal way. The excitement is electric by the time the party officially begins and everyone takes to the streets wearing costumes parodying the famous or just plain eccentric. The confetti is so think you'll hardly be able to see the cobblestones. Meanwhile, cafés and nearby fairgrounds stay open late for those wanting to dine or play with the kids. It's worth staying up to see the strange opening ceremony to Fat Tuesday; at 4am "The Gilles" sit and dine on oysters and champagne to welcome the parade day and prepare for battle…food battle that is. These pineapple-head clowns in green specs entertain everyone by flinging blood-oranges at the crowd in a mad frenzy of flying fruit. "The Gilles" rivals Spain's La Tomatina as a totally unfounded exhibition of food throwing. It's fun for the fun of it. The only difference is, unlike in Spain, the Basel crowd is not supposed to throw the oranges back. But you can be sure that there will be plenty of pulpy red mess to go around and "The Gilles" do take off their stately masks to get messy with the rest. The festival wraps up with everyone getting sloshed on the local brew while wiping off the pulp.