For you, culture comes before all else. You are just fascinated by folklore. You aren't scared of dragons, hairs or jubilant crowds. You like towns to be lively. Well then, Mons is perfect for you.
A former mining city (the Borins are miners — careful that’s “borins”, not “bourrins”), today the centre of Mons is a perfect illustration of the word “cute”: picturesque alleys, a baroque bell tower, wooden gates and old stones… But besides this historic aspect, the city is also characterised by its modernity. In 2015, the Walloon city was voted European Capital of Culture, which thrust it into the spotlight. It has now permanently made its mark on the 21st century and is being redeveloped (many museums and cultural centres have opened, urban renovation projects, economic initiatives etc.) whilst sublimating its ancient heritage.
Today the city is home to the head offices of a number of American IT giants, such as IBM, Microsoft and Google. It is no surprise that these names have created a booming tech scene, and they have encouraged the emergence of a myriad of innovative small businesses and start-ups. A decade year ago, Google even invested 250 million euros to build one of its three European data centres in Saint-Ghislain, just a few kilometres from Mons. Take that, Silicon Valley!
In Mons, one thing is certain: we know how to party and celebrate the region’s heritage. And the spearhead of this folklore, rich in colour? The Doudou. No, it has nothing to do with the plush teddy bears gathering dust on your child’s bed (or your current queen size bed, we all have our quirks after all!). Le Doudou is the annual event that is highly anticipated by all those from Mons, and it is one week of popular jubilation that takes place every year around Trinity Sunday (the Sunday after Pentecost).
This local fete is based on passed-down traditions and consists of two “games”: the “Sainte-Waudru game” and the “Saint George fighting a dragon game”. To find out more, a fan has written a nice big entry on Wikipedia, because quite frankly it’s a bit too complex to summarise here. Better still, go there yourself and find out. In addition, this event has been recognised as “a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage” by UNESCO.
Besides that, let’s not forget the famous Dour Festival which is held not far away (about 25 km). The festival has a red hot reputation and each year it welcomes hundreds of thousands of festival goers, thirsty for an edgy and alternative music programme (and some sleepless nights). DOURRRRR!
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