RIMPELROCK FESTIVAL – Rockin’ to the Oldies in Belgium with TOM JONES, THE HOLLIES and more

Gather round, kiddies, and let grandma tell you a story about how she ended up at a music festival specifically for old people. In Belgium. First, let me put in my teeth.

For the past few months, I’ve been working with the unique and progressive tourism board, Tourism Flanders, on a pretty incredible project: helping them promote the fact that every summer, Flanders transforms itself into pretty much the music festival capital of Europe.

What’s a Flanders? Besides a field forever? Flanders is a region in Belgium whose inhabitants speak Flemmish Dutch. Hip and historical towns like Antwerp, Gent, Leuven and Brugge (that’s Bruges to most of us who have seen the movie) are all located here. It’s a historically stunning, friendly, foodie and fashionable part of the world. Everyone speaks English, too. Flanders, I learned, is really cool, and impossibly easy to get around in by train.

And every summer, Flanders also happens to be home to HUNDREDS of music and cultural
festivals. You name it, they’ve got a festival for it. This summer, Flanders opened its doors to nearly 100 music and travel bloggers from Canada, the US, Europe, Japan, India and the UK  and invited them to experience and write about some of the regions’ coolest cities and raddest music festivals. I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Offering hundreds of music festivals catering to all tastes (Vegan heavy metallers! Jazz purists! Culture vultures! Indie kids! World beat and reggae fans! Ravers! Rockers!), Flanders’ festivals don’t just attract local bands and a few minor headliners: their biggest festivals attract the biggest names. Check the lineup for Rock Werchter, Tomorrowland or Pukkelpop and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Which brings me to why I’m in a field full of old people in funny hats, waiting to see Tom Jones.

The email went something like this:

“Mikala, you should do RimpelRock, it’s a week before you do Pukkelpop. It’s for old people, but it could be fun.”

“Tom Jones is there? Deal.”  Because, really, who’d miss a chance to go to Belgium AND see the Panty Loosener from Wales?

So here I am at Rimpelrock, August 11, on the same site that the mega rock music festival Pukkelpop (stay tuned for those reports) will be held on the next week.

Rimpelrock, it should be noted, means WRINKLE ROCK. Average age of punter? 50+. Many are dressed up in costumes, everyone brought their own folded chair. The sun was out, people were friendly, nobody was moshing for fear of broken hips, and I ate a Belgian waffle for dinner. In other words: AWESOME! Let’s get started shall we?

I arrived in time to see young pup CHRISTOFF & FRIENDS. He’s a shining-toothed crooner of the wedding singer ilk, in way cooler threads. His friends involved his sister (I think he gave her flowers or something) and another friend. Like the guy standing between his legs. Also, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard “Show Me The Way to Amarillo” sung with a heavy Dutch accent.

One of the best thing about Rimpelrock is that in order to avoid sunstroke, everyone was wearing silly hats.

See? SUCH a great vibe at this festival. One day when everyone, including your mom, could let their hair down in the sun and groove.

Want to watch the concert from a bit higher up? Okay then! Wait AT THE GIANT CRANE.

Ah, here’s Will Tura. BIIIIG fave of the old ladies. Total crooner with terrifying teeth.  But ladies with parasols loved him…

I also have Bingo Wings. But you know what? It’s awesome that Flanders has a festival for the over 40s. The vibe was so good.

This was also good. Under 21s not allowed. I mean, UNDER 16s. Gods I love Europe.

Soon it was time for LANCASHIRE ENGLAND’s THE HOLLIES! . Alas, there were actually no Long Cool Women in Black Dresses in attendance but the song did get played. As did “Carrie Anne”, “On a Carousel”, “Bus Stop”, “The Baby” (featuring Tony Hicks playin’ electric sitar woo!) and Springsteen cover Sandy. Nice harmonies.  But time for a wander…

This woman has been married 40 years. Seems a fitting place to break out the dress!

This woman was probably not a cheerleader but GIMME AN A FOR EFFORT!

The iconic flags of the Rimpelrock/Pukkelpop site. Nice day for a wander, to enjoy the vibe, have a Belgian Waffle for dinner (TRUTH), and then wait for this guy…

Oh *le sigh* how I love Tom Jones. A marvellous almost-fest ender (I couldn’t stay round for 80s Dutch heartthrob Marco Borsato, alas, I had to go and experience nearby-town Hasselt’s street theatre festival, which was awesome. There was a guy driving what looked like a lawnmower attached to four small tables with people drinking wine sitting at each, and a bartender cleaning classes at the bag. For reals, it was a truly mobile bar.) But Tom Jones? He’s the man. I cannot overstate this.

Check out my review and amazing in-the-pit-photos of Tom Jones in this gallery.

So thanks Rimpelrock, you were a load of great fun. Proving that music knows no age range, really, and that we all just wanna have fun in the sun, singing WHY? WHY? WHY? DELILAH! \m/

With many thanks to Tourism Flanders/Brussels for flying me to Flanders to experience great food, festivals and people. Amazing place, I suggest you visit. For more info, check out VisitFlanders.com and to check out Flanders pics from bloggers including me, visit Instagram.

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