As is the case every year, the day is an occasion to pay tribute “to the women and men who work for Belgium every day in the civil and military sectors”, according to the authorities. While attendance last year had fallen sharply, as a consequence of the attack in Nice, “stronger security measures have been taken, but it is necessary that the party takes place in a cheerful spirit”, said Renato Guion, divisional commissioner of the federal police, to the press on Thursday during the presentation of the festivities organised in the capital.
For the 15th year, the National Ball will launch the celebrations on July 20 at 7 pm at the Place du Jeu de Balle. At 8 pm, Bozar will host a free concert by Ji Young Lim, first place winner of the Queen Elisabeth Violin Competition in 2015. She will perform the Mendelssohn Concerto in front of the royal couple.
On Friday, July 21, Cardinal Jozef De Kesel will celebrate the traditional Te Deum at 10 am in the Cathedral of Saints-Michel-and-Gudule, in the presence of the King and Queen.
At the same time, the Festival in the Park will take place until 11 pm from the Palais de Justice to the Federal Parliament, passing through the Brussels Park, the Place Royale, the Sablon and the Rue de la Régence. A multitude of activities will be proposed, notably within the “Police Village”, the “Security Village” of the SPF Intérieur and the “Village de La Défence”.
The military and civil parade will take place on the Place des Palais and will start at 4 pm. There will be 1,660 soldiers, including 158 foreign military personnel, announced Major General Marc Thys. While these figures are comparable to those of previous years, the number of mobilised military vehicles, 43, is decreasing. The air show will show 35 aircraft and helicopters. The troops on foot and in vehicles will also represent the civil services (police officers, firemen, civil protection …). Three specialist civil protection vehicles will feature a new look for the future: a marking consisting of large grid patterns referred to as “Battenburg”, which improves visibility.
At 11 pm, the National Day will end with a great musical fireworks display from the garden and the roofs of the Palais des Académies.