Carnival of Dunkirk
Dunkerque Carnaval France
Carnival of Dunkirk, French Flanders, one of the oldest in Europe
Dates: main dates are Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th February 2012, although the Carnaval lasts 1+1/2 month, this year from 28th January till 10 March 2012.
Place: Dunkerque/Dunkirk France and its urban community.
The carnival has existed since 17th century. Traditionally, the town's main industry was fishing and Shrove Tuesday was a day when shipping owners laid on a banquet for their fishermen before they set off to Icelandic waters. A good reason to party hard! Today, the Sunday before Ash Wednesday sees a marvellous parade make its way through the town centre under the protection of Reuze Papa and his family.
What to expect: Men dress as women, women are iun fancy dress, there is a herring throwing competition and the nights have dress balls.
History Reuze Papa is a giant figure, beloved by the Dunkirkians (other Flemish towns also have their own giants too) Before Reuz Papa is a drum major dressed as an Imperial grenadier and carnavaleux (carnival people), who carry coloured umbrellas and sing carnival songs.
It is a carnival for Dunkirkers with its own rules and traditions that Dunkirkers have to learn before: what songs, how to march and dance during the parade, and the use of the Dunkerk patois.