Ghent Festival: 150,000 visitors on first night of 'rebirth'

The first evening of the Ghent Festival, a 10-day music and theatre festival that takes over the entire city centre of Ghent, attracted no less than 150,000 visitors, 45,000 more than the first evening in 2019. "It was a unique rebirth evening", says 'party mayor' Bram Van Braeckevelt (Groen).

The first evening of the festival had a good start. "We counted 150,000 visitors", Van Braeckevelt says. By way of comparison: the first evening in 2019 attracted 105,000 visitors, in 2018 110,000 visitors. After two cancelled editions, the fireworks were moved to the first evening in 2022.

"The opening event on the Voorhoutskaai near the Belgacom tower attracted some 6,500 spectators. It was a unique night of rebirth, emotional too," says Van Braeckevelt.
"It was a very good start, I am very satisfied. There were a lot of people, people did not want to miss this unique first Gentse Feestendag. And it was enjoyable from start to finish. The renewed opening event was also much appreciated by many people."

The police counted some 15 fights. "Many people were over the moon quite early on, which could be a possible cause," says police spokesman Matto Langeraert. In addition, one person was picked up by the emergency services after a report of rape and taken to hospital. Also 104 partygoers received a GAS fine for urinating in public, 59 in the zone and 45 outside.

Three thieves were arrested, two people were caught with counterfeit money, and there were some administrative arrests for public drunkenness. The Red Cross had to take care of 103 visitors, about 25 people had to go to hospital, but without serious injuries.

10-day festival

The Ghent Festivities are a 10-day festival that takes over the entire city centre of Ghent. Besides stage events, there are also street acts such as mimes and street musicians. The festival starts on the Friday before the third Sunday in July and lasts until the fourth Sunday in July.

Originally, the date did not refer to 21 July, Belgium's bank holidays, but that holiday has always been included. The last day is known as the day of empty purses, a reference to the fact that many people have spent their last penny at the festival and is seen by the people of Ghent as their day while the visitors leave.

Together with the Oktoberfest in Munich and Las Fallas in Valencia, the festivities are among the biggest folk festivals in Europe. In 2021, the Ghent Festival was recognised as intangible heritage by the Flemish minister of Culture.






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