As I am about to leave to the 2nd day of Aalst Carnival in a few hours, I thought i’d show you really quick how we experience this. I saw some great traditions, like the Sunday parade, the satirical vibe, the brotherhood with strangers and the Pompiers spread all over the city. But I also found a new phenomenon appearing in this years edition: Street raves, with live DJ’s, but without Pompier. Here I find myself using a term twice that i might need to explain: What the heck is a pompier? Well, typical for Aalst Carnival is the oldtimer firetruck with a soundsystem mounted on. They blow thousands of watts of sounds through the city. They are also modified with paint jobs, stickers and lights. Here’s an example:
You see the trucks with the truss frames and lights? That’s them.
I arrived at 15:00h and the parade was wonderful, funny and gorgeous. Lots of people were there and the security was tight, but all and all it was an awesome vibe. The parade lasted 9 hours and was 9 km tall. So I think the speed of the parade was a no brainer. The dances of the schools were a little less this year, but the technicians went totally berzerk on their floats and turned out awesome though! Look at this one, this particular float was finished with such great detail I think it might catch a main prize!
(Sorry for my friends photobombing this one)
Ok, these guys (Possensje) had some sound issues but the lion was done so good and so detailed. the paws were even clothed with artificial fur!
After the parade we went to get some smoutebollen (doughnut balls) and Durum to eat. And after a one hour search for a working ATM machine we went to the fairgrounds. The Aalst Winterfair is one with carnival and is one of the biggest in Belgium. Since it was getting late, a lot of the rides were closing so we didn’t stay long. We went to the beer tent for a drink and after that, we went walking again to look for a good rave. We found one on our way to the grand place. We hung around at a drum ‘n bass rave for half an hour and went on from there. It was 5 minutes to 1:00am and the grand place was about to open (the tribunes and seats from the parade had to be removed firs and the pompiers had to be linked with their lights and speakers). at 2:45am the Grand place finally opened. Whistles and horns blew and people screamed, and when the DJ’s intro came the crowd went crazy. Two minutes later the vibe was on and the first video was the product of that.
At the moment of writing about day 1:
In a few hours i’m off to the prize nominations of the schools, followed by my 2nd night (or evening, because man! my feet hurt really bad last night). But first a good meal to prepare to the alcohol that’s about to follow. 🙂 Wish me fun and good luck!
As i found my feet still hurting from day 1, I didn’t go to the Monday parade, the weather was crappy anyway. And after my friends came over to eat Flemish Hutsepot (fat dish, it helps digest the alcohol better) at my place, we went to the Florahallen, an old factory hall turned into a convention center at the borders of the city center. At the Florahallen was the prize ceremony for the schools, which lasted 3 hours. The 289 schools were divided in 4 categories:
- loose groups;
(startups without having payed a registration fee for the prize, counting for 208 schools. Schools that had payed registration are limited to 80.)
- The cleaning squad (a category apart was founded this year for this team to make them more interactive, and to praise them for their work)
- Small schools;
- medium schools;
- Large / Fused / united schools.
The winners were no surprise. I expected the ones of the medium and large category. Possensje was the least surprise to win for the large category. They depicted our city as the lion’s lair (a reference to the politics at the city board which was very original), they had a very detailed float as a described at day one, and they implemented live oil barrel drummers and a haka in their parade dance, which made the most chilling effect I have ever seen in a parade. their song was also so popular that it was played 4 times in a row after their victory was made pubic, and not a single time we got tired of it. When the dj started to play a new song after the 4th time people started chanting for a 5th time (that didn’t come after all, luckily). After all, this was a legendary and unseen edition.
After the prize ceremony we went to the grand place again to party for another 3 hours before getting home again.
Today was the Voil Janettenstoet (parade of the dirty jennies). Men dress up as women and go raving to the Grand Place, with their attributes: an old umbrella, an old pram and a birdcage with a dried haring. This tradition comes from the old factory workers in the 19th century that had no money for nice costumes and masks, so they went into their wives’ wardrobes and grandma’s attic to look for costumes and accessories.
I did not attend this part, because again, the weather was awful. It was cold, the wind was freezing and the rain fell with tonnes. However, I really did not want to miss the burning of the effigy, so I went to the Grand place, again. Prince carnival 2017 Raf Sidorski even made a joke about the crappy weather, as the flood gates of heaven continued to fall open upon all 18.000 of us.
As Raf was doing his speech and sung a few songs, I saw the fire department pouring a can of oil on the effigy to make sure that it would catch fire in this weather. But no panic, it did burn. 😁
The burning of the effigy gained 18.000 attendants, despite the weather.
As all the other days, I stayed a few hours with my friends to celebrate all over the city.
I want to thank all of the People of Aalst for their awesomeness, and we see each other next year!