This Sunday, May 10th, 2015, in Ypres, is one of those weird and wacky events that Belgium seems to specialize in. It’s the 3-yearly Cats Parade (Kattenstoet).
I’ll try and summarize the main points. I can imagine your eyebrows rising higher and higher as you read through the list:
- Onlookers and parade marchers dress up as cats, from simple face paint to full-on cat costumes!
- Giants weighing up to 225 kg and standing up to 7 meters high march past!
- It replicates events during the Middle Ages when live cats were tortured and killed during Kattenfoors (Cat Fairs) in towns and cities throughout Europe!
- A court jester appears on the balcony of the belfry tower and hurls plush cats into the crowd below!
- Effigies of witches are burned at the stake!
Is that enough? No?
OK, add some town criers, fire-eaters, soldiers, archers, stilt-walkers, drummers, dancers, musicians, marching bands and carnival floats.
Read this article – Cats Parade – that I wrote for the Flanders Today newspaper that explains more of the history of this strange event, and how and where to experience it.
And then enjoy the spectacle!
(Thanks to Cirdub and Zeisterre for photos of the 2012 event)