Gent is a city in the Oost Vlanderen province in the tiny European country called Belgium. Gent has a long history going back centuries. It has evolved from being a kingdom on its own to an important steel industry city and to what it is today - a student city. Yes, Gent is a student city with over 60,000 students. Salons and cafe' always have a student rate indicated because students are so important to this city's economy, even housing business is geared to meet students need (single rooms and studio apartment are the mainstay of the residential real estate business in the city).
Perhaps what the city is most famous for it what is called 'the Gentse Feesten'. This is annual event held in July each year since more than 500 years ago. It is 10 straight days of doing nothing but hanging out and about in the city, listening to different music performances, drinking, having fun and literally just idling around. During the 10 days, offices, factories, businesses,schools, universities etc are all closed. No one is obliged to work during these days. Even hospitals operate on low key during this period. Most Doctors and nurses are off duty for the feast. Life during this period rotates around the feast. The city receives millions of tourist and visitors who just come to see just how a city can organize a big party to last 10days for itself.
I happened to be in Gent this year and for the first time witnessed the feast. You cannot imagine what this is. the city centres turns to a carpet of people, millions of them all just idling and drugging their feet around. Music is played every corner and it is all a blast. Of course there is no space for cars and even public buses. people walk from their homes to the city. At 10 o'clock in the night you see swarms of people walking to the city from their homes as if the party has just began. It is amazing.
I do not know what to make of the Gentse feast. It is just mind baffling to me. How can people afford so many man-hours in the modern times to celebrate??? - nothing in particular. Rest is healthy I think, it makes people focus better - but again what about the losses on the economy are they ever recovered? Is the society better and stronger? Why has Gent feast beaten the ages to exist to date and be as phenomenon as 500 years ago? I particularly like the way the city handles numbers, putting up mobile urinals and toilets all over the center and ensuring all are supplied with clean water and the emptying to the city sewer services. It all work very well. A healthy thing and beautiful thing Gent Feast is I think...