Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the treadOf the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
I disagree. Going to the Menin Gate at 8.00pm for the ceremony was unpleasant and annoying. Far too many people were pushing other people out of the way, to get a better view. Everyone behind me was sticking their arms up and out with cameras or phones in their hands. On another visit recently I spent time under and around the Gate late at night or very early in the morning, when the traffic is not so bad. I read the names, I could think quietly about what had happened 100 years ago. The Gate is like Times Square if you go to the official ceremony. So go alone, at a quiet time, and avoid the crowds who only want a photo.
I've been there three times. The photo isn't typical as they don't always have a pipe band or veteran's groups attending.
Each night is slightly different depending on who the guests of honor are (bands, troops, choirs, veterans organizations, school groups, etc.) but the ceremony does preform several rituals the same each night. During the summer crowds can be larger but I have always found them very respectful and well behaved. It is an exceptionally moving ceremony. If you wish to see the gate itself go during any time other than the ceremony which may last anywhere from 30-60 min. Get there at least 30 min. early if you wish to see the ceremony itself.
My own experience, in November 2014, was touching. On a very cold night there were nevertheless many visitors, no band but a Belgian choral group singing " Abide With Me" in charmingly accented English just before the playing of the Last Post. I'll always remember it.
It is a bit shocking to see the colors on the ground. But I guess one needs to be there.
The "Coulours ARE always "Draped" at a ceremony. The only time they do Do not TOUCH THE GROUND is When it is a wet weather DRILL.