An Autumn and Winter Guide to Flanders
Autumn and winter are fantastic times to visit Flanders. The air is cool and crisp, the museums are full of fascinating exhibitions and there is a romantic, almost fairy-tale quality to exploring the cities during this time.
Perfect for that special getaway, there are exciting cultural events, special art exhibitions and delicious food festivals happening across the whole of Flanders.
You’ll soon see that Flanders really is a modern masterpiece.
From £49 each way.
SHORT BREAK RETURN
EXPLORE BY BIKE
There are few activities more Belgian than riding a bike through the charming towns and villages of the Flemish countryside. Or, if you feel like participating in something even more adventurous, check out the Ronde van Vlaanderen Summer edition on 8 September which allows keen cyclists to take on a legendary course cobblestone climbs that stretches into the Flemish Ardennes. Alternatively, you can watch the pros battle it out at the Antwerp Port Epic on 8 September, which sees world-class cyclists’ race through this port city’s cranes, shipping containers and cobbled roads. For a unique winter cycling spectacle, don’t miss a chance to see Six Days of Ghent on 12 November, a thrilling six-day indoor circuit with some of the world’s best riders in attendance.
DISCOVER CULTURAL FLANDERS
2019 marks 450 years since the death of Flemish Master Pieter Bruegel the Elder, an event marked by many fascinating exhibitions that shine a light on this incredible artist. In Brussels, many of the artist’s masterpieces - including ‘The Fall of the Rebel Angels’ - are on permanent display at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, where multimedia experiences allow visitors to explore his intricate works up close. To explore even further, head to Brussels’ Dynasty Building where Beyond Bruegel, (until 31 January 2020) provides an immersive multimedia experience using projections that allow you to walk through his artworks. For the real art fan, there’s also a rare opportunity to see Bruegel’s prints, which are rarely displayed to the public, at the Royal Library of Belgium in the exhibition, The World of Bruegel in Black and White (15 October – 16 February 2020). Another cultural must-see this year is the newly reopened Gruuthuse Museum in Bruges, a sumptuous city palace in Bruges full of treasures such as tapestries, paintings, lace and silverware.
TASTE UNIQUE GASTRONOMY
Good food in Flanders is a way of life. Visitors can discover iconic street food dishes like frites and waffles or dine in style in Michelin-star restaurants across the region. For a chance to sample the cream of the crop in a way that’s easy on the budget, the food festival Kookeet (28-30 September) in Bruges sees the city’s top chefs, including some Michelin star restaurants, serve up a signature dish for great value. Taste some of the smaller Belgian brewers at Antwerp’s Modeste Beer Festival, (5-6 September) or enjoy many of the finest beers all in one place at the Belgian Beer Weekend (6-8 September) in Brussels, which is held right on the spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Grand Place.
FLANDERS IS A FESTIVAL
Flanders boasts hundreds of diverse festivals each year, so if you want to experience the world’s top performers, there’s nowhere better to be. For a real cultural deep dive, there is nowhere better than the Ghent Festival of Flanders (14 September-5 October). Here, an opening concert known as Ode Gand sees open-air concerts take place across the city of Ghent and special performances right along the picturesque river. For a truly unique winter festival, make sure to visit December Dance in Bruges 5-15 December. This contemporary dance festival takes places at Bruges’ Concertgebouw and features some of the finest local and international artists showcasing their creative talent.