Aalst Carnival opening parade draws 80,000 as first party night passes peacefully

Around 80,000 people attended the carnival parade in Aalst on Sunday, according to the organisers. During the first night of partying after the parade, very few incidents were reported. Police arrested about 10 people and intervened in 13 minor skirmishes.

The number of people attending the traditional opening parade was lower than last year's record crowd. In 2023, 105,000 people came to Aalst on the first day of the parade - the highest number ever recorded - when the event was held without restrictions for the first time after the pandemic.

Despite the rain, this year's total of around 80,000 visitors "is actually average", the organisers said.

Calm party night

According to the local authorities, the first party night passed off peacefully. Police took around 10 people into administrative custody, including some for drunkenness. Thirteen minor skirmishes were broken up. The police issued two official reports for drug possession.

On Monday afternoon, the procession took place for the second time, following the same route as on Sunday.

The Aalst carnival is the largest carnival event in Flanders. Every year, more than 70 local groups take part in the parade on Sunday, each with a different regional, national or international theme, which they mock with their floats. On Tuesday, the "Voil-Jeanetten" parade takes place: men dressed as women with prams and broken umbrellas dominate the streets.

In 2010, the event was added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Heritage of Humanity. In December 2019, the mayor of Aalst, Christoph D'Haese, petitioned UNESCO to remove the carnival from the list following widespread controversy over floats representing Jewish people. This was the first time UNESCO had removed an event from its register.



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