Love cats? We do too – Kattenstoet, festival of cats

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The origins of the festival trace back to the Middle Ages, a dangerous time for cats

Today sees the 43rd edition of Kattenstoet in Ypres, Belgium. This Festival of Cats takes place every third year on the second Sunday of May. Thousands of local people and tourists will line the city’s streets to watch the famous cat parade, which begins at 3pm and follows the theme “cats and mice”.

The origins of the festival trace back to the Middle Ages, when cats were considered instruments of the devil and witches. Though some of the event’s traditions play tribute to the culling of cats during the 14th century, the event today very much celebrates felines.

Hundreds will participate in the festivities wearing cat, witch or medieval costumes. The parade, undoubtedly the event highlight, will see more than 2,000 participants – including brass bands and horse riders – march across the city. It is famous for the many man-made, colourful giant cat floats that take part in it. Standing almost three-storeys high, their travel through the city is a fantastic spectacle.

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Cieper (King of Cats) … Kattenstoet, Ypres

The procession will end in the town square next to the Cloth Hall. There, the town jester will take toy cats to the hall’s belfry and drop them into the hands of the crowd below. Later in the evening, a mock witch burning will signal the end of the festival.

Large swathes of Ypres was left in ruins after World War I. Its strategic position placed it at the centre of several intense and sustained battles. While the fabric of the city was restored with German reparations, the once annual Kattenstoet is attributed to returning the spirit to Ypres.

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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Images: Cup’oCofi, cedricdubois)

Love cats? We do too – Kattenstoet, festival of cats was last modified: October 22nd, 2015 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (1167 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to momondo.com.