Flanders Dophei
India Spandan
Lithuania Grandinele
Macedonia Bojmija
Poland Krakus
England ESMM

2012 - 13 VOSELLAAR FOLK FESTIVAL 16 - 20 August

The invitation from Vlaamse Volkskunstgroep DOPHEI to attend their 17th International Volksdans Festival at Vosselaar - Flanders, came through our good friends Zonne from nearby Turhout. We last saw Zonne at our Jubilee in 2008 & they were very kind to accommodate us on this trip.

Often on tours where we visit groups of couple dancers, we like to invite our Ladies to join us - the last occasion we did this was to visit Kursiu ainiai in Lithuania 2006. So, on this tour we had 11 men and 6 ladies. There was much discussion about transport: cars / minibus, Dover / Harwich, but in the end most went by car via Harwich - least driving!

We arrived late Thursday afternoon and met both Dophei and our Zonne hosts at the local dance clubhouse. A couple of beers & we were off for supper and an early night. But first to get to know our hosts, acclimatise and learn about the festival- some groups had been there for a few days previously. There were four other international groups apart from us; "Spandan" from Ahmedabad in INDIA, "Grandinele" from Panevezys in LITHUANIA, "Bojmija" from Gevgelia in MACEDONIA and "Krakus" from Krakow in POLAND. They were all large groups, young, vigorous and very colourful. Rather than insert extracts of all their performances in this log, I've prepared a separate gallery here for you to enjoy or by the links below:.


Rehearsal. Somewhat of an anathema for ESMM - so much so that Ian turned up in civvies. The preparation was for a concert that evening.

Then the procession. All groups came together for a march round the town square of Vosselaar - ESMM strutting their stuff with Winster. It was hot!

At the end of the procession there was a show in a local park where we first got to see our fellow participants dance.


Belgian Flags






Macedonian Band

Macedonian Hat

Later that afternoon, back at the Festival venue, there was a civic reception with the exchange of gifts and greetings from the local dignitaries.

The rest of the day was ours before the concert and we were entertained by our hosts and their families.

The concert was in a sports hall decked with seating tiers. We all waited our turn ouside lubricated by copious glasses of Trappist beers trying to keep quiet. It was hot!!

Afterwards it was water - not beer, & then to bed.

Today was to be relaxed before the evening performances. A tour around Turnout. Firstly we gathered at the new canal marina and then walked through the town past the old water tower where a cultural festival "Turnhout Trumps" was based. Then through the many pretty sights and buildings - including a Spiegeltent (different from the one which visited Ipswich). At the end of the tour we lunched with Zonner at their practice hall - at an old school now a community facility.

The evening concert was another formal occasion and again very hot. As on the previous night, the organisers had muddled the ESMM programme of dances so Tim needed to take over the announcements. After this show, it's the only time I've ever seen ESMM dink copious bottles of water.

Local weather forecasts predicted the hottest day in Belgium for many years, and they were not wrong. We touched 40 degrees C. Not even in Jordan have we danced in such heat. Our destination was at Olen - some miles away, for a town centre show - thankfully underneath a giant awning. The heat seemed to have got to some of us!

Evening saw the finale informal concert party. Each group lead some communal dances - we did the Bear Dance, Circle Hornpipe and the Webley stick dance. Frans & Tim got involved with a Flemish sword dance. It was all too much for us oldies & we left the youngsters to get on with it & went to bed.

Time to go home. Back to the Hoek & Harwich via a cake shop & spurious sat-nav directions to Calais. Thanks to everyone for a wonderfil trip - and especially to our hosts.

Dick Thornborrow