Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival


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Inscribed in 2019 (14.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Société Royale de l'Ommegang, 2017

Ommegang of Brussels, an annual historical procession and popular festival takes place annually over two evenings in July in the historic centre of Brussels. The celebration begins with a crossbow competition and a ceremony in Sablon Church. In the surrounding streets, various groups form a large procession. The procession follows a 1.5 km route through the city to the Grand-Place, where the groups join the Magistrate of Brussels and bearers of various forms of living heritage. Together, they march around and some groups partake in an organic performance that has evolved since 1930. Having originated as a religious event in 1348, the tradition declined in the 18th century and the modern Ommegang was then recreated in 1928-1930 based on descriptions of the procession Charles V attended in 1549. Nowadays, the tradition has evolved into a festive, local heritage event. Among the participants are various groups of volunteers who meet and prepare their roles together, encouraging younger members to get involved. These groups have become club associations which, during the Ommegang in early July, meet and socialize with other groups. Children attend with their parents, and many people have been involved for forty or fifty years. The viability of the practice is constantly monitored, and the association overseeing the Ommegang is continuously engaged in preparing and promoting the next event.