The Stilt walkers of Merchtem - Belgium

Jan Vanderhasselt foundation, ann. 1945

Short story

The group found his origin at Langevelde, a hamlet of Merchtem.
After abundant rains, the overflowed territories were waded through by stilts.
But also without any flood, young and old considered it as a game to walk on these stilts and to organize stilt contests and stilt fights.

But the custom to walk on stilts is much older than the tradition in this district.
One of the famous paintings of Pieter Breughel's "Child's play" shows
the walking on stilts.

For a long time, circus people and street performers have been using stilts to look taller and show off

At the end of World War 2, fairs and processions were organised everywhere in Belgium to celebrate the liberation. Langevelde came up with the idea to let their people, dressed in paper clothes in the national tricolour, walk on stilts of different heights.

Since that day in 1945, the stilt walkers have travelled through Belgium and a large part of Europe like The Netherlands, Luxemburg, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Poland and Rumania. They even have performed in Russia, Japan and the USA.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary, by old tradition, they dressed the world famous statue "Manneken Pis", near the Grand Place in Brussels (Capital of Belgium and Europe) with the costume of the Stilt walkers.

Folklore is still alive here!