Monday, August 17, 2009

Two Day Caribbean Festival in Belgium: Antilliaanse Feesten


Approx. 45000 people danced the night away at the Antilliaanse Feesten in the small town of Hoogstraaten, Belgium. Not like most festivals, the Antilliaanse Feesten starts when the sun goes down and keeps on going until dawn.
Music from Latin-America and the Caribbean is getting more and more popular in Belgium (as all over northern Europe). So is this festival, which has a summer and winter edition (in-door).

In contrast to ‘World’ festivals where you have a predominant white audience coming to see African, Asian and Latin artists, the Antilliaanse Feesten has a totally mixed audience of all colours. It was surprising how many mixed couples were present. Many men wore white shirts and trousers, while the ladies wore very short skirts and high heels. Not the easiest outfit for a festival in a rural grass field, but everybody wanted to look at its utmost best. And it was beautiful to see.


The most famous act this year was Carlos Vives, a Colombian superstar well known in all parts of Latin America. This was his very first gig in the Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands-Luxemburg). On Saturday the French Creole super band Kassav, from Guadeloupe, came to make the crowd dance and party. Kassav has been on stage throughout the world for 30 years now, and are very popular in the French speaking world. This was the 5th time they came to the Antillianse Feesten and they were still bringing us great Afro-Caribbean vibes .

The crowd was super enthusiastic and going crazy, all over the place you could see people branding flags from Trinidad, Jamaica, Cuba, Martinique, Surinam, …
There were cocktail and champagne bars and delicious cigars. The food was not typical Flemish festival food, i.e. French fries and hamburgers, but Caribbean Chicken grill, cornbread, rice & beans, Surinam Chicken with peanut sauce, …

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