Spoiler Alert: This Is Not Venice!

A woman wearing a venetial mask and costume is posing in bruges old market square
Venetian vibes

Can you guess where you’ll find this Venice impersonator?

OK, I’ll give you a hint, since we could all read the waffle (go.fre) on that young lady’s bag: It’s Belgium.

So: any takers yet?

Venetian costumes in Bruges. A masked performer wearing a blue venetian costume is posing in Bruges
A Venetian Pose

Well, I suck at keeping secrets, so out with it already:

Welcome to Bruges! 

Dubbed by many the Venice of the North.

Although in all honesty: there are now dozens of other cities competing for that title!

Here’s to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Colmar, Hamburg, Giethoorn, Ålesund… and many (many!) more.

Bruges should not by any means be reduced to a nickname of the more popular & famous cousin  Venice. And this for a simple reason: there is little – if any – in common between the two, save for the canals.

Well, that and the Carnival taking place in January.

Visiting Venice. In Bruges.

This medieval fairytale is without a doubt one of the most visited places in Belgium, with close to 8 million visitors in 2015. That may put off many of you. And of course, we’re talking about a lot of people here.

But Bruges is still far from reaching the 30+ million of camera trotting tourists that pour into Venice yearly, according to CNN Travel.

While the gorgeous little streets of Bruges will undoubtedly be packed with people too, regardless of the time of the year, mid-January provides a much-needed respite.

The Christmas Market craziness comes to an end, but it’s still cold enough for some to brave a visit.

Les Costumés de Venise

Les Costumés de Venise are an international group of performers that take to the streets for a costumed parade through Bruges, every year now in January.

The first time I saw the Costumés de Venise, they were actually putting on their first representation in Bruges, back in 2016.

You will easily call your visit a double win as you watch the costumed parade around Medieval Bruges : bringing the Venice Carnival to you, minus the expensive airfare & hotels. You’re welcome.

Did I mention the event is free? And still a hidden gem?

Their next appearance: 13 & 14 January 2018.

Let’s have another look then:

A woman wearing a Venetian costume is dressed like Autumn next to Bruges Fish Market Venetian costumes in Bruges
Venetian costumes in Bruges

This Autumn-looking fiery lady elegantly stroke a pose while I was still fumbling with my camera to get the right settings.

Extremely patient people they are!

Her gorgeous dress was bringing sunshine around Bruges’ Old Fish Market (background).

Fishmongers who were previously selling their merchandise on the city’s street corners were forced to move their business in the Vismarkt (Fish Market) sometime early 19th century.

Fresh fish is still sold here every morning from Wednesday to Saturday, while Sundays are reserved for the flea market.

Venice masks and costumes in Bruges

A lonely performer clutching her golden flowers nodded my way as I stopped from the hustle and bustle to acknowledge her amazing costume.

Moving parallel to the canal, we came across this Neptune-worshiping group wearing gold-clad, baby-blue costumes.

Majestically poised while dozens of instant fans were immortalizing their success.

Les Costumés de Venise posing in Bruges - aqua theme
Les Costumés de Venise posing in Bruges

This couple was ostentatiously posing next to the main canal, away from their companions, engaged in the playful game of street fame.

A couple wearing venetian masks and costumes in Bruges
A couple wearing Venetian masks and costumes in Bruges
Amazing black and orange Venetian costumes in a parade on the streets of Bruges
Amazing Venetian costumes

Take a look at this pair, who was actually hiding from people!

Next to the Bruges Old Market Square, the somber-looking performers were guarding the Provincial Court: one holding a walking stick/ lamp post, the other blocking the door.

Black and white Venetian costumes, woman and man holding a walking stick/ lamp post, in Bruges old market square
Venetian costumes in Bruges Old Market Square

Further away – this young lady, whose costume I absolutely adore. She was delivering great PR to the city’s canals, inviting you to hop on board one of the boats.

The weather was fantastic, especially for a Belgian winter.

What more can you ask for?

Venice costumes on the streets of Bruges
Venice costumes on the streets of Bruges

Surely this is what Insta-Heaven looks like!

Take a closer look now:

Carnival Bruges Disguise Costume Mask Festival
Bruges Venetian Mask

Visit fairytale Bruges in time for this Carnival. 

bruges fairytale

You’re guaranteed to have a great time! You will also have to stick around after the parade. Or better yet, come the day before to enjoy Bruges’ secret gardens, picturesque bridges, and delicious food.

Heading to Venice next? here’s your Masquerade Ball to Remember – in Actual Venice!

You’re welcome & Happy Wandering!

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    • And I think it’s still a good time to enjoy this costume parade in a relatively cozy environment (before word gets out and more people crowd the streets of Bruges)

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