Have you ever been in Dunkirk for the famous carnival? The party takes place in the town centre of Dunkirk during Mardi Gras season. What’s the objective? Make party with friends and have fun in a coloured atmosphere. People are disguised, wear make-up according to a theme for example or just with old clothes, because they like salvage clothes. This celebration is a good reason to meet people and have fun with welcoming people from North of France. There is no prejudices, young people, old people, rich people, poor people, everybody is accepted.
• The origins
The origins of this traditional party have been forgotten little by little but according to some wise people, it comes from “The fishermen going to Iceland” (the first official document dates back to 16th January 1676).
Men dress up as women, and vice versa. They always make a mockery of the woman, and as we can imagine, all men dancing around, if there is a woman, she has to be brave to survive.
But all those traditional customs are more and more famous and attract more and more people.
• Dunkirk, the city
At the beginning, Dunkirk was a fishing village which was disputed by France, Belgium and England, Netherlands… Then, during the WWII, the British Expeditionary Force was sent there to assist French Army when German Army occupied the territory. They stayed blocked for a week by German Forces. At the end, the British Army evacuated the city by sea.
• In correlation with Mardi Gras
In spite of this side of the Dunkirk history, Dunkirk know how to start over. Now, the famous party attracts people at the pace of music instruments in the streets. In this period of Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French), the tradition is to eat a lot, to drink a lot and to laugh a lot, wearing costumes.
• The Herring throw
This celebration has been created in 1945 after the WWII. As the city hall had been destroyed, the inhabitants wanted to celebrate the renovation. In order to do it in a cultural tradition, they decided that, as it was the season, they could throw herrings. So that, the mayor of Dunkirk, each year, throw herrings on disguised people in the Carnival party.
• Some dates
This year, the carnival in Dunkirk will take place on March the 2nd, but we have to keep in mind that before, there will be organised festival dances during the whole month of February in the region. We can mention the Chat Noir ball (Black cat ball), the Corsairs ball and the Senior carnival for instance.
• The Chat Noir ball
Organized by the Quat’Z’Arts, the Chat Noir ball is the first ball to open the carnival: it always takes place on a Saturday night. The Quat’Z’Arts is an association created in 1921 and the benefits earned thanks to the ball are used to organize charity events.
• The Corsairs ball
One of the most awaited event is the Corsairs Ball, due to the 10,000 disguised people who make party during all night. The benefits are used to maintain the heritage of Dunkirk and graves.
• The Senior carnival
Seniors are welcomed to sing, to play music, and to dance as much as young people. So that, this ball is also organised to make them have fun, with make-up and colours.
All benefits generated by the carnival and balls (around 750,000 euros per year) are donated to charity actions.
This oceanic climate makes the carnival funny as it is not so hot, and not so cold. Near Dunkirk, we can find the cities of Calais and Boulogne-sur-mer. This entire region, in front of the ocean, offers sandy beaches with sand yachts and fish harbours.
As in Dunkirk, Boulogne-sur-mer offers herring throws during the herring celebration. Moreover, festivals are organised there, like the festival of the comic -strip, musical festivals…
The advantage of those cities in Nord Pas De Calais is that they are next to Ferry and train connections to the UK which means that you can easily spend the week end in France with as little travelling time as possible. For instance, Boulogne-sur-mer is at 30 min from Calais which enables you to reach your home easily.
If you like the area, you can take a look at our properties, we have an agent located in Boulogne sur Mer, he can assists you in finding your dream home in France.