Everyone knows about the rich cultural heritage Europe has embraced over centuries. One of the most unique festivals hosted in France, is the Fetes de Gayant also known as the Festival of Giants!
We give you an insight into the merriment and the background of this unique festival that happens every July-
Each year, around the last week of June or the first week of July, the small little community of Douai in the northern part of France sees a unique gathering of people and giants to engage in three days of partying, merriment, food and drinks amidst the giant figure that wobble and dance through the streets. The city of Douai, has been the center of attention for merchants and businessmen to carry out their routine transactions and also led Europe from the Dark Ages period to the Renaissance. The local traders gave a helping hand to the artists who created a symbol for the town, La Famille Gayant or The Gayant Family which would be a standing testament to the age of development over centuries the town had witnessed.
Who are these Giants?
On the day of the event, large groups of tourists flock to the town square to see the towering figures in all their glory. A total carnival spirit takes over the place as people get their kids and friends to enjoy the days events. Music is played throughout the streets and the main city bell is also struck to mark the beginning of the parade, the main event.
The Gayant family slowly walks out onto the street. Now these are not your regular costumes that you might get to see everyday. At the front of the pack is Monsueir Gayant (Father giant), a towering sight of excellence at over 28ft tall and weighing over 400kgs! Whoa! He’s dressed in military attire complete with armor, a sword and a shield by his side. At his side, walks his wife Marie Cagenon, who also towers over 20ft is dressed in the latest fashion.
They are accompanied by their 3 children Jacqout, Fillion and baby Binbin. In comparison to their parents, these three are around 7ft and the baby at around 5ft.
The Festival of Giants originally started taking place in 1479. Over centuries, the giants attire and design have been changed time and again to adapt to the modern times. Earlier the structure used to be made out of wicker and supported by wooden beams but these days they’re made out of a more sturdier plastic composite so it’s easy to lift and move.
The manpower behind the moving of the giants through the town consists of a chosen select team of 53 people from local age-old families. They support the giants from underneath and make them dance as well as walk throughout the whole parade.
Apart from the Family of Giants, there are other giants also paraded throughout the three day procession. There are various floats carrying artists in wacky costumes and beautiful art installations carried all around town for everyone to enjoy!
Although it’s a total three day party for everyone who visits the Festival of Giants, there is a tradition behind why the giants are paraded through the streets every year.
It is believed to be said that, the royal family when out on the parade is checking upon their people and subjects. There is a perfect mix of patriotism as well as festivity. It becomes a festive occasion for everyone to come with their loved ones, witness some great history go down, get thoroughly entertained and also eat to your hearts content!
The Festival of Giants is about to happen from the 10th-12th July this year!