Can you guess where you’ll find this Venice impersonator?
OK, I’ll give you a hint, since we could all read the waffle (go.fre) on that young lady’s bag: It’s Belgium.
So: any takers yet?
Well, I suck at keeping secrets, so out with it already:
Welcome to Bruges!
Dubbed by many the Venice of the North.
Although in all honesty: there are now dozens of other cities competing for that title!
Here’s to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Colmar, Hamburg, Giethoorn, Ålesund… and many (many!) more.
Bruges should not by any means be reduced to a nickname of the more popular & famous cousin Venice. And this for a simple reason: there is little – if any – in common between the two, save for the canals.
Well, that and the Carnival taking place in January.
Visiting Venice. In Bruges.
This medieval fairytale is without a doubt one of the most visited places in Belgium, with close to 8 million visitors in 2015. That may put off many of you. And of course, we’re talking about a lot of people here.
But Bruges is still far from reaching the 30+ million of camera trotting tourists that pour into Venice yearly, according to CNN Travel.
While the gorgeous little streets of Bruges will undoubtedly be packed with people too, regardless of the time of the year, mid-January provides a much-needed respite.
The Christmas Market craziness comes to an end, but it’s still cold enough for some to brave a visit.
Les Costumés de Venise
Les Costumés de Venise are an international group of performers that take to the streets for a costumed parade through Bruges, every year now in January.
The first time I saw the Costumés de Venise, they were actually putting on their first representation in Bruges, back in 2016.
You will easily call your visit a double win as you watch the costumed parade around Medieval Bruges : bringing the Venice Carnival to you, minus the expensive airfare & hotels. You’re welcome.
Did I mention the event is free? And still a hidden gem?
Their next appearance: 13 & 14 January 2018.
Let’s have another look then:
This Autumn-looking fiery lady elegantly stroke a pose while I was still fumbling with my camera to get the right settings.
Extremely patient people they are!
Her gorgeous dress was bringing sunshine around Bruges’ Old Fish Market (background).
Fishmongers who were previously selling their merchandise on the city’s street corners were forced to move their business in the Vismarkt (Fish Market) sometime early 19th century.
Fresh fish is still sold here every morning from Wednesday to Saturday, while Sundays are reserved for the flea market.
A lonely performer clutching her golden flowers nodded my way as I stopped from the hustle and bustle to acknowledge her amazing costume.
Moving parallel to the canal, we came across this Neptune-worshiping group wearing gold-clad, baby-blue costumes.
Majestically poised while dozens of instant fans were immortalizing their success.
This couple was ostentatiously posing next to the main canal, away from their companions, engaged in the playful game of street fame.
Take a look at this pair, who was actually hiding from people!
Next to the Bruges Old Market Square, the somber-looking performers were guarding the Provincial Court: one holding a walking stick/ lamp post, the other blocking the door.
Further away – this young lady, whose costume I absolutely adore. She was delivering great PR to the city’s canals, inviting you to hop on board one of the boats.
The weather was fantastic, especially for a Belgian winter.
What more can you ask for?
Surely this is what Insta-Heaven looks like!
Take a closer look now:
Visit fairytale Bruges in time for this Carnival.
You’re guaranteed to have a great time! You will also have to stick around after the parade. Or better yet, come the day before to enjoy Bruges’ secret gardens, picturesque bridges, and delicious food.
You’re welcome & Happy Wandering!