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Colourful Zinneke Parade returns to Brussels this Saturday after four-year absence

14:16 11/05/2022

The Zinneke Parade will be showing off the diversity of the multicultural Belgian capital as it weaves its way through the city centre on 14 May.

After an absence of four years, the popular event returns to Brussels with the theme Trompe l’oeil. Initially created for Brussels’ European Capital of Culture in 2000, the Zinneke Parade has become a mainstay of the city's cultural landscape.

Its mission is reflected in its name. Zinneke originates from Zenne, a small river that circles Brussels and also means stray dog. The parade symbolises the unity of people in Brussels regardless of their background.

Zinneke Parade 2018_EDA_4538_© - Eric Danhier

Every two years, the Zinnodes (colourful animated groups from various neighbourhoods) rally around a different theme to create a magical spectacle. Each edition combines elements of Belgium's rich and ancient carnival folklore with a contemporary multicultural twist.

It’s also an interactive parade that encourages participation from spectators. Catch the procession as it follows its itinerary through the Grand Place, Boulevard d’Anspach, Rue Lombard and Marché aux Herbes, between 15.00 and 17.00, before a final appearance at the Bourse at 17.30.

After its cancellation in 2020 because of coronavirus, there’s feverish excitement in the lead up to the big day. Although there will be 2,000 people parading in the various Zinnodes, a further 1,000 are busy behind the scenes. They include float makers, costume makers, make-up artists, dance and music teachers, coordinators, writers and project leaders.

Zinneke Parade photo Richard Harris

The Bulletin spoke to Peter Veyt, artistic director of the Jette Zinnode, to find out how it has been preparing for this year’s long-awaited edition.

“The costumes this year were made by the participants themselves, not by seamstresses, and the construction that we are going to use as our parade float was built with lots of kids in a neighbourhood called Esseghem. It’s built for their neighbourhood, so after the parade, they’re going to use it for years to come.”

An artistic team was formed to oversee much of the creative work. “We had Maude who designed and thought up the costumes, Katherine did dance workshops and works of movement and Sarah, who’s a singer, did workshops with all the participants about using their voices in public spaces. Finally, Elia did the construction workshops in the Esseghem neighborhood,” said Veyt.

Participants made their own costumes because of the way the Jette zinnode is embodying the Trompe l’oeil theme.

Zinneke Parade photo Richard Harris

“It started with Patrik Proško who is a Czech artist who uses trompe l’oeil in almost all of his work. He makes portraits of people and if you’re in the right perspective you see the portraits, and if you turn around you see that it’s 3D, there’s a depth to it. To recreate this effect in the costumes, we used two big paintings which are going to be hung on the float and all of the costumes are painted the same way.

“We wanted to show, even on the day of the parade, the depth that goes into a process like Zinneke because normally when you see the parade the only thing you see is the result. But the beauty of a project like this is not the result, it’s all the way from the beginning from the preliminary meetings up until the final moment of the parade.”

Veyts explains his motivation to participate every year. “Because it’s always one of the great moments of the year, because I find a lot sense in it, because it’s more than just a result. I love giving possibilities to people to work together and have people be creative. One of my great passions is to share the power and the fun of creativity with as many people as possible, so that’s why I’m there.”




Written by Richard Harris