Jane Shey From Here to There on Flanders In Summer ~ Annapolis Capital Punishment

Friday, August 6, 2010

Jane Shey From Here to There on Flanders In Summer

Flanders in the Summer..in which we hear once again from our correspondent Jane Shey an Annapolis resident who also lives in Belgium and writes on the difference between urban life, transportation and other issues of interest to Annapolitans:

Flanders in the summer is a delightful place with one festival and concert after another. My theory is that after 8 months of cold and rain, the four months of some sun and less rain are a major cause of celebration. We actually had two weeks where the temperature was in the low 90s and people were miserable. I know you scoff, but in a country without air conditioning, it was uncomfortable. But now we are back in the 68 to 75 range which is extremely pleasant.

My most recent festival was an event called Flanders Sings. This is an outdoor sing along/ beer drinking event. It runs from the end of May until mid-September and is probably held in 40 different cities in Flanders. It runs from 730-1130pm in the town square. In Leuven it was in the Great Market and word was there were 5000 people in attendance. The area is sealed off and the bars, restaurants and outdoor beer tents did a booming business. As a person entered, each was handed a newspaper that had the words to 40 English
and Dutch songs. The songs ranged from Bob Dylan to Dean Martin to Kiss. And each song was sung with great gusto and waving of the song sheets. The crowd was a mixture of families, seniors and college students. Hey what's not to like about beer and singing?

There was a band on stage that either played the songs or played a recording of the songs. I started talking with the table next to me trying to figure out the reason for the event and was told “people in Flanders like to sing”. I would add drink beer as well. In the summer, there are a number of beers that are brewed for this time of year and so everyone is anxious to try the latest summer batch. At one point, I was dancing with the wife of the off-duty police officer that I had been talking with. The Flemish also like to have fun.

Another summer staple in Leuven is the Friday night concerts which occur the 4 Friday nights in July at 6 different venues. The weekend before the sing along, there were 12,000 people in the Great Market listening to jazz. The week after the sing along, it was happy tapas throughout the center of the city on the pedestrian streets. There must have been 50 vendors selling small portions of their restaurant specialties, and of course, beer and wine to compliment the food. There were various bands from 3 pm until midnight. Again, a crowded, action packed event.

I am always impressed by the various activities that are planned and the way that most of them seem to include all the age groups. And with light until 10 pm, people sit outside until late socializing. By late fall, most people will be indoors sheltered from the cold and rain which only makes the summer warmth and music all the more sweeter.

Thanks to Jane and look here for more installments of "From Here to There"

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