The 2022 edition of the Carnival at Binche has been cancelled following a decision from the municipal authorities of Binche and the leaders of the Association for the Defence of Folklore (ADF).
The event is being cancelled due to the measures Belgium has implemented as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Le Soir, specifically the new Coronavirus Barometer.
“The barometer has killed the Binche carnival,” said Binche mayor Laurent Devin on Monday. “For months we kept our hopes up and were preparing for this carnival. But on Friday evening, the Covid barometer put an end to those hopes.”
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The coronavirus barometer consists of three phases: yellow, orange and red – with corresponding measures for culture, events and the hospitality industry. The colour codes are tied to figures like hospitalisations.
“The measures taken in the last meeting make it impossible to organise the carnival in 2022,” Devin said.
“We have to take note of the decisions and suffer the consequences, as in other sectors. Aid premiums will be provided for trades that are impacted by the cancellation of the carnival.”
Binche's authorities, in agreement with the ADF and the carnival's actors, had initially set the date of 17 January to communicate on whether or not to hold the event. The decision was postponed to 24 January in order to allow Binche officials to analyse the situation in the light of the measures taken at the last Consultative Committee meeting.
“Not a word for us at the last meeting, even though an event with more than 50,000 people was authorised,” said Didier Rombaux, president of the Binche ADF.
“We had accepted the cancellation of our drum rehearsals. We had planned a new schedule of rehearsals and performances. The occurrence of the Omicron variant has put a stop to all plans.”
Other carnivals may potentially take place
Rombaux doesn’t rule out holding another event “if the situation allows it, involving all the stakeholders of the carnival”. But nothing is set in stone. “We need to strengthen the ties that unite us,” said Rombaux.
Mayor Devin said the region is planning to hold discussions regarding other carnivals.
The carnival of Binche dates back to the 14th century and takes place each year in the town of Binche during the Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday. It is considered to be the best known of several that take place in Wallonia at the same time, and has been proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.