In the year 2000, Brussels was one of a number of European cities crowned "European Capital of Culture". In true Brussels fashion, preparations for this started well in advance, but just not quite well enough in advance. I think that as I write in 2004, everything that was planned to take place has been completed. All this to say that one of the events that came off in time, and with a resounding success, was the first ever Zinneke Parade.
The idea was to establish a parade that was designed and carried out by the ordinary people of Brussels, working locally with the artists, musicians and thespians of their areas. The result? On May 27th 2000, the day my photo was taken, 4000 people took part in 5 parades uniting in the afternoon in the city centre. They were encouraged and cheered by an audience of 300,000 people.
It is hard to convey what that day brought to the people concerned - there was such a feeling of fun, excitement and achievement... the level of creativity was beyond description. Friends of mine who took part either as organisers of groups or as members had an absolute ball... they could talk of nothing else for weeks!
Take a look at the websites below to see just what it meant to people. The demand went up to ensure that the Zinneke would become a permanent feature of the Brussels cultural calendar.
The response? The Zinneke takes place every 2 years in May. In 2004 it will be held on May 8th.
Yes Gillian, but what is a Zinneke?
Ooops good question.. a Zinneke is a true Brussels person... a mongrel... originally a mixture of Walloon, Flemish, Spanish blood. But still the notion of Zinneke lives in the melting pot that is Brussels... Italian, Maghreb, Congolese, Turkish, Portuguese... everything.
Gallery of photos taken by the general public during the first Zinneke Parade in 2000
May 8 is the usual day for Zinneke parade, that takes place each two years in Brussels (basically pair years).
Zinneke parade is a procession of creative people, playing music, dancing, improvising, acting, theater plays, singing on the streets of Brussels... all made-up, "disguised"... well, with nice, sometimes futuristic, other times monumental outfit. It was fun assisting it, I did that in 2002 (only a small part of it, for me being crowd-avert).
I saw in their website about why it is held on this very date: for May 8 being the anniversary date of Belgium Liberation and, since lately (2003 or even 2004), the official day of Region de Bruxelles-Capitale (the entire Brussels region, not the commune). [Side note: this has been celebrated at different dates the previous years... er... Brussels region is a young region :)]
Then, it is the ad hoc date for Zinneke to stress on Droit ? la Ville pour tous - the Right to the city for all. A city that, they require, is for all Brussels' Zinnekes.
The organisation defines a Zinneke. "Zinneke means in Brussels dialect the little Senne, the river that contours Brussels to avoid floods, as well as a dog, the result of a mix of all different races, that often ended his life in the Senne. Zinneke also means the champion of the race of the impure. The Brussels Zinneke is someone with mixed origins, flamish, walloon, italian, spanish, arab, english, german etc." Check the pic, see for yourself...
Voila! Cosmopolitan Brussels is partying!
Check the website for more info: this one in English:
and the below website as a general introduction and more complete version (mainly French and Dutch!)
Do you ever heard about the 'Zinnekeparade' ?
It's a crazy, artistical, multicultural and unique event in the streets of Brussels. The whole city is full of shows.
If you want to participate, be in Brussels on saturday 25 may 2002
'De Ommegang', this is an annual historical parade in the honour of 'Keizer Karel' and his son 'Filips'. There are partcipating societies that already excited in 1549, the year of the original happening. Some participants are actually descendents from 'Keizer Karel'. A lot of emphasis is put on the authenticity of the costumes and decors.
Dates & times: 03 & 05 July 2001, from 21.00 til 23.15 hrs.
Price for a seat on the Market Square: 800,-BEF (19,83 EUR) til 1500,-BEF (37,18 EUR). Available:
± 2500 seats.
For reservations: ommegang-Brussels
+ 32 (0)2 5121961 or fax:+ 32 (0) 2 5026835
Tip: you don't necesarily need a ticket. I went there and watched from the side...