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Vredefeesten Balloon Festival Sint-Niklaas 2024 in Belgium

The weekend full of fun and hot air balloons at Grote Markt in Sint-Niklaas

Dates: September 6–8, 2024

Vredefeesten, also known as the Peace Festival, is a hot air balloon and music festival in Sint-Niklaas, Belgium. This year, the festival celebrates its anniversary, marking 80 years of liberation and a decade of the balloon run. Organized by various entities, including the city of Sint-Niklaas and partnering organizations, the event aims to engage visitors of all ages and interests. One of the festival's main highlights is a mesmerizing spectacle of balloon takeoffs from the Grote Markt, featuring a diverse array of balloons.

Attractions and Entertainment

The festival's key attraction—the balloon takeoff—typically sees around 40 regular balloons and ten special shapes ascend into the sky. In addition, attendees can enjoy the fascinating display of remote-controlled mini balloons on Saturday from 4 pm to 5:30 pm at the Grote Markt (Large Market). Special shapes will also be featured, with scheduled takeoffs on Friday from 6:30 pm to 8 pm, Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm, and Sunday from 6 pm to 8 pm, all at the Grote Markt. Moreover, the event is infused with lively music and entertainment across five stages: Castrohof, Grote Markt, Heymanplein, Stadpark, and Terazza. These stages offer a wide variety of musical genres, ensuring there's something for every attendee to enjoy. Additionally, the festival includes the Vredefeesten Balloon Trophy ceremony, adding a competitive edge to the celebration.

Exploring the World Market

The world market, sprawling from Castrohof to Grote Markt, boasts numerous stalls offering culinary delights and cultural insights. From Belgian delicacies to international cuisines, the market caters to every palate. Fair rides and entertainment options are also available for children and adults, creating a vibrant atmosphere throughout the festival grounds. Other highlights include a showcase of vintage cars alongside entertaining animations, street fairs, and the ever-popular balloon run. The festival reached its zenith with the mesmerizing Nightglow and a dazzling fireworks display.

Balloon Run

During the Peace Festival in Sint-Niklaas, attendees are invited to participate in the Balloon Run on Sunday, hosted in the picturesque City Park. Organized by local athletics clubs, the event offers routes of varying distances for all ages and fitness levels. The options include 0.6 miles (1 km) run for children, 3.1 miles (5 km), and 6.2 miles (10 km).

Accessibility

Accessibility is prioritized, ensuring all attendees can fully participate in the festivities. The Peace Festival is open to everyone free of charge, offering a diverse range of activities, which attendees can enjoy without the need for reservations or tickets. Various transportation options, including bicycles, buses, and trains, are encouraged as the festival strives to be a car-free zone. In addition, the festival ensures easy access to refreshments, promoting hydration and comfort of attendees by providing free water points throughout the grounds.

History

Originating in 1948, the Peace Festival has evolved into a symbol of peace, solidarity, and resilience. Balloons hold a special significance, tracing back to the founding of the Aero-Club of Sint-Nikolaas in 1912. Despite interruptions during World War II, the tradition of balloon celebrations was revived post-conflict and eventually integrated into the Liberation Day commemorations. Renamed the Peace Festival in 1973, the event expanded to include international hot-air balloon competitions and diverse cultural events. Over the years, it has grown into one of the world's premier balloon festivals, drawing crowds exceeding 100,000.

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