Lifestyle & Culture

‘s-Hertogenbosch: The elaborate and other-worldly Bosch Parade is a go for 2021

Expats in the Netherlands … you’re fortunate people. The Dutch not only know how to party, they know how to party in style. So, we’re collecting the details on the local celebrations as we return to something like pre-pandemic normal because you don’t want to miss them. First on our list is the Bosch Parade in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, known to locals as Den Bosch.

You will never confuse the Bosch Parade for the Little League parade in Des Moines. Several communities around the Netherlands and Belgium have a tradition of creative parades that take a full year to imagine, design and execute. And it shows.

Not too long ago, we wrote about the Brabantsedag (Brabant’s Day) parade in Heeze outside Eindhoven, which like everything else in the Netherlands, was cancelled for 2020. We called it an event like you’ve never experienced. Brabantsedag has floats, but they’re on a scale and a level of sophistication that has to be seen to be believed. The hundreds of locals who play characters on the floats, or in the parade, are choreographed and a lot of design professionals and artists are involved.

Let’s just put it this way – about 45,000 people turned up for the 2019 event.

The Bosch Parade is held on the Dommel River that cuts through ‘s-Hertogenbosch, one of the glossiest cities in the Netherlands. Bosch Parade is set for July. Organizers describe the annual parade as “a theatrical and musical art spectacle on water.” Like Brabantsedag, the Bosch event draws tens of thousands of spectators/partiers, about 27,000 in 2019, according the Bosch Parade website.

While not on the same scale as Brabantsedag, the Bosch Parade is its creative equal, drawn from the hallucinatory and allegorical paintings by Den Bosch homeslice Jheronimus Bosch, who as born in the city about 1450 (no one knows for sure.)

Our friend and fellow expat Bob Vernon tipped us off that the event is on for 2021, and they’re so sure we’re all going to get vaccinated that the event is recruiting volunteers.

The eternal struggle between temptation and righteousness – seduction and asceticism – is Bosch’s favorite theme, and the “Temptation of St. Antony” is the inspiration for this year’s parade.

Detail from “Temptation of St. Anthony”

That triptych includes Bosch’s usual grotesque demons, flying ships full of fish and depictions of death and redemption, all in a landscape like something out of a bad acid trip.

Which should make for some interesting entries in this year’s Bosch Parade.

Previous years’ creations included men in white evening wear playing a duet on a floating piano and various representations of Bosch’s favorite theme, people trapped in various versions of the smoking fires of hell.

Really? You’re gonna miss this?

The deets:

Bosch Parade

‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands

8 thru 11 July, 2021

Until the next parade kicks off, stay up-to-date with the floats planned for the next event on Instagram and YouTube. (via Design You Trust).

See more about Den Bosch here on Dispatches.

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Co-CEO of Dispatches Europe. A former military reporter, I'm a serial expat who has lived in France, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

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