Aalst Carnival is world heritage

Wed 17/11/2010 - 10:20 UNESCO, the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has included four Flemish events or festivities in its world heritage list. Apart from Aalst, the honour also went to the "Krakelingenfeest" and the "Tonnekenesbrand" in Geraardsbergen and the "Houtem Jaarmarkt" in Sint-Lievens-Houtem.

The news was announced yesterday: Aalst Carnival has been inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Aalst Carnival is being celebrated every year on the three days preceding Ash Wednesday, which means that the three-day carnival always starts on the Sunday before the Christian lent.

The carnival starts with a big parade big photo), which is the culmination of a year's work by various local organisations. The parade attracts tens of thousands of people. On Tuesday, the so-called Voil Janetten (small photo) take possession of the city centre, men dressed as women. For more information, click here.

"Krakelingen" are thrown in the public

Other events that were put on UNESCO's list include the Krakelingenfeest and the Tonnekensbrand in Geraardsbergen (East Flanders) which are part of the same festival, every year at the end of February.

The Krakelingen Festival is controversial because it includes a ceremony where people drink a glass of wine with a small living fish in it.

The event kicks off with a historical parade, during which "krakelingen" (hard, round pieces of bread) are thrown in the public. One of the 10,000 pieces of bread includes gold and is worth 740 euros. The festivities end with a big bonfire, the so-called Tonnekensbrand.

Horses in Sint-Lievens-Houtem

A fourth event is the annual fair in Sint-Lievens-Houtem, also in East Flanders. The large market square of the East Flemish town south of Ghent is turned into Flanders' biggest market place every year on 11 November. It's a historical market, which includes a horse and cattle section. The annual fair goes back to the Middle Ages and the worship of the holy Livinus.

UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage already included the Holy Blood Procession in Bruges and the Ros Beiaard and Ommegangreuzen in Dendermonde, which are part of a big parade in the East Flemish city.