France: Crowds fight over herrings during traditional Carnival

Thousands of people wearing colourful costumes gathered in Dunkirk with the aim of catching the packets of smoked herrings which are thrown from the balcony of City Hall – a tradition which has strong roots in the oldest carnival in France. It is estimated that around 40,000 people gathered in the square in front of the building.

The Mayor and his guests threw hundreds of kilos of herrings from City Hall, which is a World Heritage Site, with those in the square fighting to grab their share. Thousands more walked through the main streets in a traditional parade.

This Carnival tradition dates back to 1676, when fisherman would spend three days celebrating before leaving the city and travelling to Iceland to work for a number of months.

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