The Ommegang on UNESCO's Heritage List


It was eagerly anticipated, the Brussels folklore procession held in July on the Grand-Place has now been recognised by UNESCO as intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

This veritable 'tableau vivant' recreates the arrival of Charles V and his infant son Philip in Brussels in 1549. Today, this procession still involves nearly 1400 extras, in addition to around forty folk groups. The whole Grand Place, actors and spectators, are plunged into the Renaissance thanks to expertly choreographed scenography, period costumes, stilt-walkers, crossbowmen and other corporations.

The marching volunteers are primarily descendants of the families of brewers, weavers, traders, bourgeois and nobles of the time. This is what makes the Ommegang unique and gives it its completely human aspect.

The candidacy, submitted by the Brussels Region on behalf of Belgium, was successfully chosen at the 14th session of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Bogota. The Committee of Experts tasked with assessing the candidacy highlighted the fact that the Ommegang strengthens local identity and social links between the inhabitants of the city.

And as Paul Le Grand, President of Ommegang Brussels Events, put it in a statement: "Given that the extras of the Ommegang come from the North, Brussels and the South of the country, our national motto "Union is strength" takes on its full meaning here".