It is often said that one has to have a personal link with Carnaval in order to understand it in depth, and I am the first to confirm the statement. My year is, if not fully failed, then at least incomplete if I have to miss the Carnaval for one reason or another. Carnaval is where I come from: South-Eastern Brabant, close to the Belgian border.

As a documentary maker, however, I got to a point in my life where it was not enough to celebrate Carnaval with my old friends. I wanted to find out what, exactly, makes up the uniqueness of the festival for Brabanders, who like me, have grown up with it. Together with Elisa Veini, an interested outsider and my partner in work and life, I decided to document the quest in photography and film.

The documentary is set in the Western part of Dutch Brabant and in Aalst, Belgium, where the tradition of the transvestite carnaval (‘Voil Jeannetten’, or ‘Dirty Janets’) is alive and kicking.

“A treasure of touching and delightful photos” – De Volkskrant
‘When I watch the film, I’d love to live in that pub’ – Midas Dekkers
‘Intriguing film’ – BN De Stem

Paul van der Stap (photos) and Elisa Veini (essay): Carnavalsdagen | Carnival Days.
De Verbeelding Publishing 2009. ISBN 978-90-78909-11-8
The book is available in the webshop of Slowdocs publishers.

A large selection of the Carnival photos was shown in four solo exhibitions, curated by Elisa Veini and me. All four exhibitions took place during the Carnival period from January to April:

  • 2009: Het Markiezenhof Historical Centre, Bergen op Zoom (Netherlands)
  • 2010: The Municipal Museum Aalst ‘t Gasthuys (Belgium)
  • 2012: Museum Tongerlohuys, Roosendaal (Netherlands)
  • 2014: Galerie De Kring, Roosendaal (Netherlands)
  • Carnavalsdagen | Carnival Days, De Verbeelding Publishing 2009. ISBN 978-90-78909-11-8
  • In feestkostuum in de kerkbanken, De Volkskrant (NL), A. Haijtema, 19-2-2009.
  • Carnavalsdagen, Neerlandia (NL), P. de Boer, 1-2009/113.
  • Carnaval ís, BN/De stem (NL), 19-2-2019.


    The opening of the first Carnival days exhibition in 2009 was covered by the TV programme “Inz en Uitz” of Omroep Brabant The book was reviewed by Cornald Maas in Opium TV, Dutch National Broadcast NPO1



    Financial support by:
    Special thanks to: Jan en Angele van der Stap; Het Markiezenhof Historical Centre, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands; The Municipal Museum Aalst ‘t Gasthuys, Aalst, Belgium
    error: Content is protected !!