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Ommegang

The current Ommegang is a reconstruction of the arrival into Brussels of Charles V and his court in 1549. This grand spectacle features hundreds of extras in magnificent garb.
Every year (on the first Thursday of July and the preceding Tuesday), the Ommegang passes through the streets of Brussels to Grand-Place. The current version is a reconstruction of the arrival into Brussels of Charles V and his court in 1549. This grand spectacle features hundreds of extras in magnificent garb.

Christian roots

Ommegang means procession in Dutch.

The story goes that the Blessed Virgin instructed a spinner by the name of Béatrice Soetkens to steal a statue of Her from Antwerp Cathedral and to bring it to Brussels. The Blessed Virgin wished to thank the Great Guild of Arbalétriers for having built the church of the Sablon in her honour. Despite many mishaps, Béatrice Soetkens miraculously managed to accomplish her mission.

A procession is held every year to commemorate this. The statue of the Virgin Mary still stands in the Notre-Dame du Sablon church today.

Secular character

In the Middle Ages Brussels was an important trading centre with a population of 40,000 – as many as London. The river Senne was frequently used to transport goods, including woollen cloth. Back then, the Ommegang was one of the city’s main events. The procession brought together the clergy and the various merchants, artisans and guilds of Brussels.

Today’s Ommegang

Nowadays, the Ommegang celebrates both the procession of yore and the arrival into Brussels of Charles V and his son Philippe on 5 June 1549 with a large following of nobles and the powerful.

In the Ommegang, the streets of Brussels are filled with a parade of people in medieval costumes representing the various groups of the population, dignitaries and guilds of the time. Hundreds of extras take part in the reconstruction of the Ommegang: on foot, on horseback, with flags, driving carts and holding other typical objects. They pass through the very centre of Brussels on the way to Grand-Place.

At the same time, the Sablon hosts several medieval activities. It’s a great opportunity to experience the Middle Ages up close.

Find out more about the Ommegang