EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

Aalst Well That Ends Well At Carnival

  • February 5th, 2008
  • Posted by Sian Graham

aalst-carnival.jpgFloats poking fun at politicians, men parading through town dressed as women, and a giant burning bonfire doll, it can only mean one thing – the Carnival season has begun, with special focus on a little town in Belgium.

For three days in February, every year before Ash Wednesday the town of Aalst springs to life welcoming a myriad of visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the outrageous floats weaving their way through narrow streets.

This year the honour of the title, “Prince Carnival”, was bestowed on a 25-year-old citizen called Kenny D’Hondt.

Prince Kenny’s reign over the city began on Sunday (3.2.08) where it was his official duty to open the Carnival with the procession of the floats.

These are not ordinary floats though; the main theme is to poke fun at the current events of the last year.

Typically this year’s procession included a vast number of satirical polystyrene politicians, in honour of the arduous drawn-out battle to form a national coalition government.

The current Deputy Prime Minister, Yves Leterme bore the brunt of much of the satire for the crucial role he played during those intense negotiations.

Proving that politicians too have a sense of humour Mr Leterme, who was present during the celebrations, remarked that people should be able to laugh at politicians — at least for a few days.

The Carnival ends today (5.2.08), on what is Shrove Tuesday to the rest of the world, but is known to Aalst as the day of “The Dirty Jennies”.

It will see thousands of cross-dressing men parade once again through the streets.

The celebrations literally go up in smoke in a Tuesday night ceremony when a giant wooden bonfire doll is burned — marking the end of bizarre Carnival fun for another year.

Reference:

Aalst Carnival, “Welcome”, 8.1.08. http://www.aalst.be/default.asp?siteid=2&skin=carnaval2008|fun, (5.2.08).

YouTube, “Stoet 2008-(8)”, 4.2.08, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKc7vZHJDJg, (5.2.08).

Leave a Reply