About 3,000 people attended the first Ommegang show held on the Brussels Grand Place on Wednesday evening. The event will be repeated on Friday evening. The Belgian actress Natacha Régnier took on the role of the French-speaking herald, the narrator of the story.
The procession, 2 km long and consisting of more than 700 extras, began at 8:45 pm from the Royal Park. It reached the Grand-Place, passing by the Sablon. Several hundred people watched the procession pass through the streets of the city and admired the spectacle standing behind security fences. The approximately 2,200 spectators’ seats set up in the Grand Place were almost completely filled by the time the show began.
The show, directed by Giles Daoust and his team, opened a little late, around 9:15 pm instead of 9:00 pm, and lasted two hours. Daniel Henrotin, the comic strip artist, made illustrations, which were projected onto giant screens in the square. Thomas De Bergeyck played the master of ceremonies for the 4th consecutive year. Jo Lemaire handled the Dutch-language version and comedian Bert Kruismans the English version.
The Ommegang was led by 47 folk groups and 1,400 participants, including 180 representatives of the Belgian nobility. Flagshots marked the beginning of the show. The parade of 48 riders and eight giants, including the famous dragon of St-Georges, more than 4 metres long, stood out among the various choreographed scenes. The lighting on the facades of the buildings in the Grand Place added to the atmosphere. A small fireworks display, coupled with a release of doves, closed the show.
The Ommegang was originally a procession in honour of Our Lady of the Sablon organised by the Great Oath of the Crossbowmen in the middle of the 14th century. As part of these festivities, which commemorate the Emperor Charles V’s introduction of his son Philippe to Brussels-dwellers in 1549, the Royal Park will remain lively until Saturday with equestrian jousting by knights and period games taking place in the ‘Renaissance Village’.
Evenings with lounge music will also allow you to enjoy the place in a more relaxed atmosphere.