Armistice Day Commemorative Events in Ypres - Ieper
11 November is a public holiday in Belgium. A number of commemorative events are held in Ieper (Ypres) to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day on 11 November 1918.
- St. George's Church Remembrance Day Service
- St. Martin's Cathedral Remembrance Day Service
- Parades Form Up: Vandenpeereboomplein
- The Poppy Parade
- Ypres War Victims Monument
- The Market Square: Grote Markt
- Special 11.00 Hours Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate
- Tea from TOC H Belgium
- Armistice Day Annual Concert Concert: The Great War Remembered
- Royal British Legion Flanders Field of Poppies
- 2016 Armistice Day Events & Timings
St. George's Church Remembrance Day Service
An early morning service is held in St. George's Memorial Church on 11 November before the Special Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. Due to the demand for places at this service, attendance is by ticket only. Tickets can be applied for from St. George's Church.
Following the service in St. Georges' Church, VIPs and congregation are welcome to join The Poppy Parade which forms up outside the church.
Apply for tickets via the St. George's Memorial Church website at:
Website: www.stgeorgesmemorialchurchypres.com (select About Us/Contact)
St. Martin's Cathedral Remembrance Day Service
A service takes place (in Flemish) in St. Martin's Cathedral.
Parades Form Up: Vandenpeereboomplein
The parading Standards, bands, military and Fire Brigade representatives form up in the square called the Vandenpeereboomplein by St. George's Memorial Church and St. Martin's Cathedral.
The Poppy Parade
The Poppy Parade is open to all to take part.
Everyone wishing to join The Poppy Parade is invited to form up in the Vandepeereboomplein square.
The idea for The Poppy Parade was originated in the early 1990s by Lieutenant-Colonel Graham Parker; it takes its inspiration from the poem by John McCrae “In Flanders Fields”, which was written close to Ypres in the spring of 1915.
With the increased numbers of people attending the Armistice Day ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial it was becoming necessary to manage the crowds. One Armistice Day in the early 1990s Graham had met an Australian couple who were very disappointed to have travelled such a long way to be in Ypres for the 11.00 hours ceremony, but who could not get close to the Menin Gate for it. They had been to the morning service at St. George's Memorial Church but on leaving the service there were many people already crowded on the pavements between the Menin Gate and the market square and they found they could not stand anywhere near the Menin Gate.
This inspired Graham, who assisted on the Special Events Committee for Ypres, to develop an idea to enable members of the public with the opportunity to walk from St. George's Memorial Church to The Menin Gate in a formal parade, to pass through the arch of the memorial shortly before the start of the ceremony, and to stand in a specially allocated area east of the Memorial.
Carry a Poppy Petal
Everyone participating in The Poppy Parade is offered a Royal British Legion Poppy Petal to carry in The Poppy Parade from the forming up area near St. George's Memorial Church to The Menin Gate Memorial.
On reaching The Menin Gate Memorial the Poppy Petals are collected in special baskets.
During the 11.00 hours ceremony the Poppy Petals carried by The Poppy Parade are released from the roof of the Menin Gate. This is a very special moment which has become an integral part of the annual ceremony at the Menin Gate.
Members of the public and those representing military or civilian associations wishing to lay a wreath are recommended to join The Poppy Parade.
On arriving at The Menin Gate Memorial wreath layers will be directed where to stand in an allocated area at the memorial.
At approximately 10.15 hours The Poppy Parade marches off from the Vandenpeereboomplein square.
The parades of Standards, bands and VIPs then march off.
The parades make their way to the Menin Gate Memorial for the 11 o'clock Special Last Post Ceremony.
Ypres War Victims Monument
The Poppy Parade passes the Ypres War Victims Monument where wreaths are laid.
The parade turns left at the corner of The Cloth Hall and makes its way along the south side of the market square, passing the Cloth Hall.
The Market Square: Grote Markt
Over the last few years the number of people attending the ceremony has grown significantly. Nowadays it is not unusual to see crowds of hundreds of people lining the route of the parade.
For this reason the Last Post Association and the city of Ypres are responsible for the arrangements to ensure the smooth-running of the event and for the safety of all those attending.
The market square (Grote Markt) and Meensestraat are closed to vehicles during the morning, enabling visitors to move around on foot in a safe pedestrianized zone.
Market Square: Live Projection Screen
Space under the Menin Gate is limited to invited guests, ceremony participants and wreath layers during the ceremony. The organizers of the ceremony therefore set up a large projection screen on the market square so that everyone has the opportunity to watch and listen to the music and words of the ceremony as it takes place.
The Poppy Parade continues along the south side of the market square into Meensestraat, followed by the main parade of military personnel, Standards and bands.
Passing along Meensestraat the parades make their way to The Menin Gate Memorial.
The Parades Arrive
The Poppy Parade Poppy Petals Collected
As The Poppy Parade reaches The Menin Gate Memorial the Poppy Petals carried by those in this parade are collected in special baskets.
People carrying wreaths to be laid during the ceremony are directed where to stand in a reserved area for wreath layers.
The Poppy Parade passes through the Menin Gate and is halted at the eastern side of The Menin Gate in a specially reserved area.
Parade of Bands & Standards Arrive
The parade of bands and Standards follows on, arriving at The Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing and taking their places for the special 11 o'clock Ceremony of Remembrance.
For many years the superb band of the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Ceremonial Unit has played a key role in the ceremony, wearing distinctive white helmets and immaculately turned out in their uniforms. There is a strong relationship between members of fire and rescue services and the Last Post Association, the buglers of which are all serving or ex-serving volunteer firemen.
Special 11.00 Hours Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate
The Service of Remembrance
The ceremony usually lasts for about 45 minutes; it includes short speeches (in Flemish and English), prayers, hymns, a choir, wreath laying, a minutes' silence, dropping of the Poppy Petals, The Last Post and Réveille.
The ceremony is attended by representatives of the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Belgian and other nations' Armed Forces, local dignitaries, invited guests, ambassadors, members of the clergy, representatives of United Kingdom Fire & Rescue Services, Royal British Legion Standard bearers, ex-Service organizations, Friends of the Last Post Association, and members of The Western Front Association.
Wreath Laying: Official Wreaths
During the service official wreaths are laid.
Wreath Laying: Members of the Public
Members of the public are welcome to lay a wreath, for example, to a family member, on behalf of a military unit, organization, school or college.
If you wish to do this you can contact The Last Post Association for details of timings and the ceremony (see link below).
Members and Committee members of The Last Post Association attend the 11.00 hours ceremony to organize and marshal those participating in the parades and those people laying wreaths.
Falling Poppy Petals
During the Minute's Silence in the ceremony the Poppy Petals carried to the Menin Gate Memorial by The Poppy Parade are released from the roof of the memorial.
Instigated by Lieutenant Colonel Graham Parker as a feature of The Poppy Parade, this has become a very special and memorable part of the annual ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial.
Buglers of The Last Post Association play the “Last Post” bugle call.
The sounding of Last Post is played at military funerals and occasions of Remembrance. This bugle call originates from the tradition of sounding a bugle call at particular times of the day throughout a soldier's day in the British Army. The “Last Post” was the final bugle call of the day sounded at the final sentry post inspection, signalling the end of the day and that all men should be back in their billets.
Parade Marches Off
As the ceremony draws to a close the bands, Standards, Last Post Buglers and units on parade March Off.
Tea from TOC H Belgium
During the morning and after the ceremony at The Menin Gate volunteers of TOC H Belgium distribute fresh cups of tea on the market square (Grote Markt) of Ypres next to the Cloth Hall.
Toc H (Talbot House) was a house in Poperinge, behind the Lines of the Ypres Salient battlefields, set up as an Everyman's Club, where rank could be put aside at the front door and an urn of tea was always on the go.
For more information about TOC H (Talbot House) see our page at:
Armistice Day Annual Concert: The Great War Remembered
The Great War Remembered concert, organized by The Last Post Association in St. Martin's Cathedral, has been an annual feature of the Armistice Day commemorations in Ypres/Ieper since 2004. The concert includes music and readings with bands, choirs, soloists and the Buglers of The Last Post Association.
For more information about the concert see the Last Post Association website:
Website: www.lastpost.be Concert The Great War Remembered
Tickets are available to buy in person at the Ypres Tourist Office, 34 Grote Markt, 8900 Ieper, or you can buy tickets online. To buy tickets online:
Website: www.ticketwinkel.be Concert The Great War Remembered
Royal British Legion Flanders' Field of Poppies
In 2008 The Royal British Legion invited supporters and members of the public to dedicate a poppy with a written message, which was then planted along with thousands of other poppies to create a Flanders Field of Poppies for the anniversary of Armistice Day on the ramparts next to the Menin Gate Memorial.
Since then this Act of Remembrance has been repeated in Ypres each 11 November. On 10 November the cardboard poppies will be planted by members of the Royal British Legion, Last Post Association and students.
For information about this Act of Remembrance and how to become a supporter of the Royal British Legion see the page on the Royal British Legion website at:
Website: www.britishlegion.org.uk Flanders Field of Poppies
2016 Armistice Day Events & Timings
For the 2016 times of these and other events relating to the anniversary of Armistice Day on 11 November 2016 see our events page at:
Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial
For information about the daily Last Post ceremony, and how you can participate if you wish to lay a wreath, see the website for The Last Post Association at:
Website: www.lastpost.be Ceremonies
For information about the Menin Gate Memorial see our page:
Visiting the Ypres Salient
For information about battlefield sites to visit, cemeteries, memorials and visitor accommodation see our page at: