A Spring and Summer Guide to Flanders
Spring and summer are fantastic times to visit Flanders, especially when the flowers come into bloom, the sun comes out and the seasons’ music festivals begin. Perfect for that summer 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 £45 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. To participate in a relaxed cycle ride with a twist, check out The Retroronde of Flanders (19 June) in which participants dress in vintage clothing and ride classic bicycles on a scenic tour passing through the picturesque countryside. To see some of the world’s finest cyclists up close, the Grand Depart of the Tour de France begins in Brussels on 6 July – for cycling buffs, this thrilling spectacle can’t be missed.
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 go even deeper, head to the 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, Bruegel in Black and White (15 October – 15 January 2020). Another cultural must-see this year is the reopening of the stunning Gruuthuse Museum in Bruges (from 24 May), 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. The lively gastronomic festival Hapje Tapje (4 August) sees the centre of Leuven taken over by the city’s best chefs for a culinary feast, you can also enjoy the unique spectacle of the traditional bartender race. Of course, you can’t visit Belgium without sampling its UNESCO recognised beer. 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 more than 280 festivals across summer, so if you want to experience the world’s top artists performing live, there’s nowhere better to be. Unwind at chilled out classics such as Ghent Jazz Festival (28 June- 9 July) or Brussels’ urban Colour Café Festival (28 June-1 July). For a bit of everything, the legendary Rock Werchter (27-30 June) boasts some of the biggest headliners in music like The 1975, Bastille and Florence + The Machine. On the smaller scale, Cactus Festival (5-7 July) offers a celebration of music in the medieval city of Bruges’ picturesque Minnewaterpark. For an unforgettable experience, the traditional Ghent Festivities (19-28 July) will see the city transform into one big party, with theatre performances, music and plenty more besides.