witches contest (free)
The village is full of witches
Organisatie: vzw De Wratte
Witches garden (free)
A garden full of witches. Open from July 15th to the Witches Parade. Daily from 10 am.
waar: Nieuwstraat 23a, Beselare
Café 'den Molenhoek' Open deur
Place to be: At Gerard and Gerarda, Dadizelestraat 85
Organisation: t.v.v. Sint-Hubertus Friends
At the end of the nineteen fifties, a group of enthusiastic minds pulled together to create a new village festivity. Flanders has a tradition of parades. In 1959 the witches' parade of Beselare was born. It has become one of the more lively and colourful parades in Flanders, entirely made and maintained by the villagers themselves.
The parade opens with the history of the marquisate of Beselare, during which most witches lived (17th century). In the second part shows we meet the witches of the well-known fairy-tales. The stars of the Beselare witch parade however are our local witches, as we know them from the many legends and stories of Beselare: Meele Crotte, Calle Bleters, Leeme Caduul and Sefa Bubbels. Peculiar women, who kept strange animals, grew magical herbs, cast spells on the cattle or the children and who took pleasure in finding new ways to torment the villagers. Nowadays it is not hard to imagine that these 'witches' must have been sad and lonely, poor creatures who were the victims of ignorance, gossip and superstition. The parade ends with the infamous witch-hunt, the bringing to trial of the witches, the torture and punishment of the convict.
The witch parade with its more than 1000 participants is a folkloric event full of life and colour. But this is not the end of the festivities. After the parade there is non-stop music and activities. The festivities end when the witch is sent to the stake. Beselare likes to remember its witches with humour and folklore. By no means do we minimize the atrocities of the Inquisition and the witch-hunt.
The witch parade is one way of cherishing our local legends and to preserve them for future generations.