Karnaval Festival took place on Saturday February 18th and Sunday February 19th in Moergestel, Netherlands. After a two-year hiatus as a result of the pandemic, the festival returned bigger and better than ever.
Amy Melissa Farina
We arrived on the festival grounds around 13:30 after a long journey from Den Haag. We opted for the party bus which was in retrospect the right choice as the venue was in a very remote rural area. From the moment we arrived the energy was high as attendees entered the festival. After a two year wait everyone was ready (in full costume) to go hard.
Food & Drinks
Token prices were a bit higher in comparison to previous years (around 3.55 euros a token). Putting the price of a beer or water at 3.55, which is a bit pricy but reflective of the cost of the everything around the world increasing. Lockers were ten euros and were easily accessible by scanning a QR code, receiving a message with your number and code.
The festival had by far the most food options I had ever seen at a festival of this size. From waffles, to BBQ, to chicken wings, churros, pasta, loempia’s (egg rolls), and nachos there was really something for everyone. In addition to the food stands there was also a food court.
The festival terrain was well organized and easily accessible. At no point did the event get so crowded that it was hard to navigate so that was a plus. Despite it being February in the Netherlands the weather wasn’t too bad and there was plenty of places to get warm with the majority of the stages inside in addition to the indoor food court. There were also sufficient outdoor and indoor places to sit and relax. As for entertainment other than the music there were bumper cars, a boxing machine, and plenty of Instagram-worthy spots to take photos.
The festival consisted of six stages: Mainstage, Fanaticz, Flugel Feesttent, Partyhut, Boombox, and the Secret Stage. Let’s take a look at each one.
The Mainstage was centered around the Karnaval Festival mascot adorned with shutter shade sunglasses and a festive jester hat. On each side of the centerpiece were crazy spin wheels. The stage was perfectly fitting for this event with its vibrant colors and cheerful aesthetic.
The remainder of the stages were situated indoors. The Fanaticz stage was the place to be for Rawstyle. With pounding kicks and rainbow laser beams, we spent the majority of our time here.
The Flugel Feestent was the home to Dutch Carnaval music. As an American it was an interesting insight into the traditional side of Carnaval with of course some hardstyle remixes thrown in there as well.
The Partyhut was a small indoor stage that looked like a café with stained glass windows and wooden walls. This stage was known for its karnastyle music (a mix of various genres such as techno, hip-hop, hard dance, etc.).
The Boombox stage was inside of a shipping container and hosted some of the newer and up and coming names in the scene. This stage was packed from front to back from the beginning to the end.
Last but not least was the secret stage. In my 13 years of raving all over the world I’ve never seen anything quite like this. It took us an embarrassing amount of time to find the secret stage so I suppose the name speaks for itself. To enter the secret stage, you go to where the bathrooms are and enter through two of the porta potty doors. After opening the second door leads you to a stage!
As previously mentioned, this year’s line up was an eclectic mix of traditional Dutch Carnaval music and hard dance. Within the hard dance genre more specifically there was a bit of everything ranging from Hardstyle, Rawstyle, Hardcore, and Uptempo.
The first set of the day for us was Demencia. The Boombox stage was bumping to the sounds of Frenchcore and Uptempo. Demencia’s fire cracker stage presence coupled with the insane energy from the crowd made this set unforgettable. What a way to start off the day!
One of the best parts of festivals is discovering new music and new artists. Karnaval was no exception. Up until Karnaval I never heard of Gladde Paling before and within minutes of his set sending I immediately followed him on all platforms. Instant fan! Despite being on at the same time as some of the heavy hitters on the mainstage, Gladde Paling (dressed up as Pikachu) blew me away.
This high energy set packed in nostalgic favorites such as remixes of Ducksauce, Better Off Alone, and Gangnam Style mixed with Drum and Bass, Dubstep, and even some Uptempo. Definitely keeping my eye on Gladde Paling this upcoming festival season.
Mish & Sickmode
Dressed up adorably like Princess Peach and Mario, my favorite hard dance couple never ceases to me blow me away with their sets. Remixes of classic throwbacks like Wannabe and Hollaback Girl got the whole tent singing at the top of their lungs. Of course, some fan favorites as well such as Too Cold and Rave Love accompanied by fire coming from the stage created some insane visuals. This was one of those sets that even if you had to go to the bathroom you decided to hold it because it was that good.
We headed back to Boombox for Bright Visions. Bright Visions and MC Sarge completely demolished the stage with remixes of Lean with it, Rock with it and Titanium. People lost their minds so much they began to bang on the sides of the shipping container. It was so packed for this set that instead of dancing the crowd moved you from side to side.
The mainstage was illuminated with vibrant lights and lasers for Rooler’s set. Hits like Gang and Too Happy had the crowd kick rolling in sync. He even threw in some remixes of Drugs from Amsterdam and the song we all know from the Shrek movies All Star. Rooler never disappoints and this time was no exception.
Last up for the night was Mental Theo. This high energy party rocking set included sing-a-long favorites Jagermeister, Friday, Voel Je Die Bass, Have you ever been Mellow and Bohemian Rhapsody. A trip back to the 90’s with some modern party anthems made it the perfect set to end the day.
No festival is complete without an epic end show. Following Mental Theo’s set, fireworks illuminated the sky. The fireworks synchronized to the music paired with laser beams made us itching for more.
Visuals & Sound System
The visuals included laser light shows, confetti, and pyrotechnics. Each stage had its own visuals and each enhanced the overall festival experience. Overall, the visuals were on point.
The sound throughout the day was consistent with the exception of part of the evening at the mainstage where the sound was a bit quiet, but this could have been because of the wind, which of course happens.
The vibes and energy at Karnaval were amazing. The crowd was hype, and everyone seemed to have an excellent time. The staff was friendly and helpful, and it was easy to navigate the festival.
It was my first time at Karnaval Festival but certainly not my last. I definitely recommend this festival to anyone looking to experience the traditional Dutch Carnaval holiday with a hard dance twist.
Early bird tickets are now on sale for next year, get yours today: https://tickets.karnavalfestival.nl/f390e1b607ca49089f324375e846037a/tickets