Rotterdam Summer Carnival


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Inscribed in 2023 (18.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Amsterdam Film Foundation, 2021

The Rotterdam Summer Carnival is a multicultural celebration that unites participants from the Caribbean and European Netherlands, as well as ethnic minority groups from Central and South America and Africa living in the Netherlands. The event includes a street parade, a brass band competition and a festival market featuring Caribbean food. The practice is transmitted informally through participation in the carnival and preparations. Carnival groups come together to prepare floats, music and decorations based on a specific theme. The preparations take place at the home of a group leader or in a community centre, and the music and dance styles chosen are closely connected to the countries of origin of the participants. The floats and costumes are constructed in a large, shared space, allowing the groups to exchange and transmit knowledge and skills related to welding, carpentry, design, and recycling materials. Several workshops, such as on how to become a carnival queen, organize a carnival group and raise funds for the event, also exist. The Rotterdam Summer Carnival is tied to people’s cultural roots and their emancipation, bolstering individuality, expression and self-worth. By uniting groups of different backgrounds, it also fosters acceptance of and respect for diverse cultural traditions, promoting dialogue and social cohesion.