- Folklore and Tradition
Ath is a small town with a big claim to fame: its Procession of the Giants. A series of parades on the last weekend of August, the carnival stars seven giants with biblical and folkloric connotations, including the best known of them all, ‘Gouyasse’ (Goliath).
This infamous colossus has his giant-sized trousers ceremonially burnt on the Friday night of the festival, gets married on the Saturday and then finally fights his tiny nemesis David on the Sunday. After the battle, it’s time for live music and the tasting of the traditional "mastelles" - a macaroon and almond tart (also known as “Gouyasse" after the big man himself), before the weekend culminates in a hot air balloon festival.
The festival in Ath, long known as “The City of Giants”, dates back as far as the 15th century, but if you miss the big weekend you can learn more year-round at the ‘Maison des Géants ' (maisondesgeants.be), a grand old mansion dedicated to the tall tales which have infused this old town for generations.
Make sure to add these folkloric events to your travel lists, also recognised by UNESCO: the Saint-Roch march in Thuin, the DOUDOU, car d'or procession and Sainte Waudru Ducasse in Mons and the Binche carnival and its Gilles.
The Ducasse takes place every year every fourth weekend of August.