Every year, on the 3rd weekend of September, the Walloon region becomes a giant festival with concerts, shows, folklore, food, games and attractions and a lot of Peket, a local grain alcohol. Created in 1923, the 'Fêtes de Wallonie' celebrates the patriotism and the Walloon consciousness by commemorating the participation of the Walloons in the Belgian revolution of 1830.
Present in all the southern areas of the country (Liège, Mons, Charleroi, Andenne), the Fêtes de Wallonie (or 'Wallos') have been very successful in Namur, where more than 250,000 people invade the city for the long weekend. This is why I am going to focus on the capital of Wallonia, the place where I am from and that will always have my heart.
Picture©Credits to PocholoCalapre
Next year, the festivities are starting on Thursday 12th and will end on Monday 16th, even if a small part of the folklore-related activities start almost a week before that. They are located in the different neighborhoods of the old city, from the famous Place Saint-Aubain to the Place d’Armes, from the Theater and the Beffroi to the Saint-Loup church and from the City Hall gardens to the Quartier de l’Ange.
The theme for 2018 was 'Retour aux sources' which means 'Back to the roots' and was a great edition. Discover the full program.
Year after year, the Fêtes de Wallonie have welcomed various artists to perform for the pleasure of the public : Soprano, Kid Noize, Michel Fugain, IAM, Ozark Henry, Indochine, Shaka Ponk, Joshua, BB Brunes, Hooverphonic, Puggy, Kyo, La Smala, BigFlo & Oli and famous Belgian bands such as Sttellla or Les Gauff’.
This year was no exception : more than 200 concerts and musical animations set Namur on fire and made the 'namurois' (the people who live in Namur) dance the night away.
At Saint-Aubain Square, Thursday was the day of the students, with young, trendy programming: DJ Oli, Fatal Bazooka and DJ Bases.
Picture ©Credits to NiseriN
On Friday, cover bands from the 80’s to 2000’s performed with, among others, Mister Cover, Marc Ysaye and Friends and Achtung Babies Play U2, but also Kaptain Oats and BJ Scott.
On Saturday, Saule celebrated his 10 year career with numerous guests among whom Cali, Olivia Ruiz, The 8th group was a mystery … Expect nice surprises always!
On Sunday and Monday, the stage was focused on local bands and folkloric groups but also a Young Talent contest and marching bands.
The main goal of the Fêtes de Wallonie, is to celebrate the patriotism and the Walloon folklore in a festive and joyous way that the 'namurois' know well. Among the many normal demonstrations, I would recommend these ones:
Friday - The Route du Peket (Peket Road): a boat cruise on the Meuse with an orchestra, and on each stop you get a shot of Peket and some cheese & sausages to share. NB : Till the end of the sixties, only two sorts of this grain alcohol were served - the pure peket alcohol ( about 40°!) and the pecq, mixed with mint which is about 20°. Afterwards, other numerous varieties appeared with classic flavors such as violet, apple, passionfruit but also Belgian specialities such as Speculoos or Cuberdon.
Saturday - The Walloniades AKA the Olympics, but the Namuroise way: Teams compete in games of former days in a fun and friendly atmosphere ; The flea market ; the 'Echasseurs'. For more than 600 years, the jousts on stilts have been present in Namur, a symbolic sport of our folklore. Distributed in two group (Mélans and Avresses), the jousters try hard to bring down the opponent by using diverse tactics; The official reception of the City of Namur, that will end with the Namur anthem 'Li Bia Bouquet', performed by the orchestra of the 40 Molons, an eccentric band using weird instruments.
Sunday - The Ceremony of the Souvenir, with a procession to the cemetery and the grand finale of the Echasseurs
Monday - The Mass in Walloon in Church Saint-Jean
But also various awards ceremonies, DJ experiences, folklore bands and marching bands, animations for the kids, readings, traditional dances, fireworks, … It is also worth mentioning that there is a Kids Corner on the Place d’Armes all weekend long !
During the whole weekend, you can find the 'Village des saveurs de notre terroir', a market of traditional local food, in the gardens of the Town Hall.
There are also different food stalls all around the city to allow you to eat classic street food, but also to taste gastronomic Walloon products such as the djote (a hot meal made of mashed potatoes, green cabbage and sausages), the avisance (fresh pork sausage wrapped in flaky pastry and baked), all kinds of beers and of course, peket.
Picture ©Credits to Jakub Gojda
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