One of the original aims behind the Ypres Cat Festival was to help to bring the Community together after the devastation of WWII. For the 2018 Kattenstoet, it was clear that there is enthusiatic buy-in, not least from the retailing community who adorned their windows with a variety of cat themed models, stickers and more. Below is a montage of shop window displays and other interesting sights on the eve of the Cat Festival.
The first official event on the Cat Festival calendar was a treasure hunt for younger cat fans. Am I getting old or is it just a sign of the times that this activity involved using a hand held electronic device rather than a pen and paper!
Ypres is home to the Menin Gate one of the most important memorials to those who fell in two world wars. At 20.00 each day the Last Post Association conducts a moving ceremony of commemoration under the massive arch. Thoughts of cats were put to one side for a period of reflection.
The Menin Gate
Commemoration over, the cats of Ypres came out to play and dance in 10 different City Centre locations. Ranging from an audience participation can-can with witches to cats strutting their stuff amidst historical City centre ruins to music from "Cats" the Musical, there was something here to suit all tastes.
The evening finished with a bonfire and firework spectacular in the main square. Below is a picture of the artistically built bonfire before it was lit.
Of course this was all just an appetiser for the main event of the Festival, the Cat Parade on Sunday 13th May 2018.
All in all, an excellent scene setting day for the main parade on Sunday.