Gentse Feesten

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The Gentse Feesten (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɣɛntsə ˈfeːstə(n)]; "Ghent Festival") is a music and theatre festival in the city of Ghent, Belgium. Besides stage events there are random small street acts such as mimickers, buskers, etc. The festival starts on the Saturday before July 21 (Belgium's national holiday) and lasts ten days. The last day (always a Monday) is known as de dag van de lege portemonnees (the day of the empty wallets) alluding to the fact that many people have spent their last penny at the festival, and is by the people of Ghent seen as "their" day while the stream of visitors from other places ceases.

History[edit]

The first Gentse Feesten were held in 1843. The intensity of the festivities changed throughout the years, sometimes very strong and radiant (e.g. the 100-year anniversary was said to be very festive and lively), but sometimes also very low-key.

The modern day Gentse Feesten were started in the summer of 1969 by Ghent singer Walter De Buck and ex-wife Paula Monsart, along with the people from the Trefpunt cafe. In the beginning the festival consisted of one stage near the Saint Jacob Church. Since the late eighties the festival has grown enormously and now covers the whole inner city of Ghent.

Although the festival has become a mass event, it has retained some of the rebellious and anarchistic atmosphere of the early days. Public drunkenness is not entirely unseen.

Size[edit]

About 2 million visitors attend the festival every year, making it one of the biggest cultural and popular festivals in Europe. The number of unique visitors on top nights surpasses 250,000. In a 2005 ranking by www.localfestivities.com, the Gentse Feesten was called the third biggest city festival in Europe, only preceded by the Fallas in Valencia and the Oktoberfest in Munich.

Festivals within the Gentse Feesten[edit]

Polé Polé in 2004

Traditionally the shows at the festival have been free, but in the later years a number of side festivals have chosen the period of the Gentse Feesten to organize separate events.

References[edit]

External links[edit]