If you have been to the Grand Place yesterday night, you have probably noticed that some people were dressed…quite more differently than usual. The celebrations for Ommegang have already started and they will continue till Saturday. But what is the festival about?
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Ommegang festivities started in the 14th century as religious processions, that developed in a massive event over the centuries. In 1549, a special Ommegang was set up to celebrate Emperor Charles Quint, when he introduced his son Philippe to the Brusselians. After several centuries, the modern Ommegang (which means “walking around” in Dutch) was re-created in 1930 on the basis of the festivities that took place in 1549.
This tradition has been going on over the past decades and it has become a very popular annual event. In fact, more than 1,400 volunteers have been marching in Brussels’ streets, from Sablon to Grand Place to keep alive and strong these celebrations!
Several events are going to be held over the 4 days of festivities: the main and most famous one is of course the march that has been mentioned before. Hundreds of people with 16th century-costumes walk through Parc Royal, Sablon, rue du Lombard and end in Grand Place, where a show takes place. Stephane Bern is this year’s “Héraut” (he already had that role in 2012): his role is to deliver the main speeches and lead both the march and the show. Singers, knights, speakers and many other volunteers are also involved in the celebrations. The first show was held on Wednesday night, but if you do not wait too much and book online, you might be able to attend the second one on Friday from 7.00 to 10.00 pm.
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If you do not fancy taking part of the night show, you can also walk around over the weekend. From 7.20 pm on Friday, you can attend a tournament of arbalesters in Sablon. From noon to 9.00 pm until Saturday, you can also pop down at the Renaissance market near Bourse and purchase 16th century-like goods, as craftsmen and craftswomen are selling their products. As it is a familial activity, there are of course workshops for children as well as horse shows at Parc Royal from noon to 9.00 pm at Parc Royal until Saturday. And if you are in a “fancy mood”, you also can go to the Royal Break in front of the Royal Palace to have fun at the Lounge bar and VIP area.
Enjoy the festival, live again the renaissance period and celebrate the old traditions!