Held every weekend from mid-January to the end of March, the Carnaval de Limoux is said to be the longest-running carnival in the world. Possibly originating in a pagan winter festival, its language is Occitan and its traditions are embedded in the heritage of this Languedoc town.
We drove there Sunday morning, arriving shortly before the first of the three sessions held each day. Brass instruments signalled the arrival of the first group, its costumes owing plenty to Disney (the event may be centuries old but it's always evolving). Mickey Mouse, the seven vertically challenged people. Cruella De-Ville, they were all there. But innocent though Disney characters may look on film, they become definitely sinister as masked characters, the still faces concealing all, including whether it's a man or a woman--and women have only been allowed to take part since the early 1970s. Even small children have a creepy look to them
Flinging confetti until the place is ankle-deep, performing the traditional swaying Fècos dance, and interacting with the crowd, each group goes around the main square under the arcades visiting most of the cafés for a restorative drink. We were well into our pizzas and vin rouge by the time the pink-and-black bande shown at the top of this post came around. Events become more traditional on the final night when the Carnival King is burned at the stake.