Here’s why you should visit Flanders in Autumn
As the sun edges ever closer to the horizon, autumn transforms Flanders into an even more enchanting spectacle. Stroll through Flanders' magical forests, embrace the surrealism of Magritte at new exhibitions or just get lost in our exciting cultural events. Here are a few reasons why you should experience autumn in Flanders.
Flanders, walking country
The leaves across Flanders begin to turn yellow, orange and red as autumn slowly sweeps across the region. This is one of the best times of the year to take a wander around Flanders' magnificent woods and forests. There are several options you can choose from. Visit magical Tillegembos in Bruges, soldier up the hills of Kluisbos, or explore the famous Sonian Forest and its centuries-old trees (just a stone's throw from Brussels). Pretty much all of our woods are perfect for anyone wanting to take a deep breath of the crisp autumn air.
Lest we forget
The Battle of Passchendaele. One of the bloodiest battles of World War I took place one hundred years ago, in Flanders Fields. The battle, which lasted several months, claimed 500,000 casualties. Several commemorations are held every year so we never forget the suffering. If you are interested in a tour of the various exhibitions across the Westhoek region, then take 1917, Total War in Flanders. Australia, New Zealand and Canada, whose men died in Flanders Fields, organise their own commemorations. But there is more. Take a look at the list of all the commemorations and events relating to Flanders Fields.
A crossroads of art and religion
The rustic Park Abbey in Heverlee, a little gem on Leuven's city fringe, will soon celebrate its 900th anniversary. Originally, there used to be a Norbertine abbey on this site. Many centuries later, religion still plays an important role here, in combination with art and culture. This autumn, PARCUM, a museum that showcases religion and the arts, will open to the public. It will exhibit heritage items from churches, abbeys and convents, which has not been displayed to date. But the Abbey of the Park has so much more to offer than just the museum. The abbey site is also the perfect setting for an invigorating autumn walk.
A forgotten Flemish master
Flanders has been a fertile breeding ground for the arts for many centuries. Rubens, Van Eyck and Bruegel made history and earned their renown as Flemish Masters. But there were several other, lesser-known, but nonetheless interesting, artists besides this trio. Peter Pourbus, for example, is a forgotten Bruges master, who helped to pioneer the mannerist style in Flanders. The Groeninge Museum in Bruges is paying tribute to this overlooked artist with an exhibition titled Peter Pourbus and the forgotten masters opening in October.
Ceci ce n’est pas une commémoration – The man and his pipe
Belgium is celebrating another Flemish master, albeit a more modern master, this autumn: René Magritte. The spiritual father of surrealism died 50 years ago and to mark the occasion the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (KMSKB) have opened the exhibition Magritte, Broodthaerts and contemporary art’ from October 2017 – February 2018. If you really want to immerse yourself the artist’s unique brand of surrealism, then don't forget to visit the Magritte Museum, which is located in the KMSKB. The Atomium, meanwhile, which is also a surrealist icon, is hosting an interactive exhibition, bringing Magritte's universe to life with 3D sets.
Bikes vs. mud
When summer makes way for autumn, Flandriens move from the road to the fields. The Eeklo cross will kick off the cyclocross season. From then on, only the laws of the field apply. Every weekend, you’ll inevitably run into a few dozen cyclists making their way through mud or sand, somewhere in Flanders. So, slip on your wellies, find a cyclocross event near you and enjoy the unique atmosphere as you cheer on these gladiators of the field.
Flanders has plenty of heritage sites. Just think of its many churches and cathedrals. Or the masterpieces of Peter Paul Rubens. But don’t forget that our delicious, crispy fries are also an important part of Flemish heritage. Our potato fries are known across the world. In fact, we think chips are so important to our culture that the Flemish minister added them to the government’s list of intangible cultural heritage. Every autumn we celebrate the humble potato snack with Fries Week. So order some fries – in a cone of course – from one of the 5,000 chip shops in Flanders, such as De Bosrand in Bruges, Maison Antoine in Etterbeek near Brussels and De Frietketel in Ghent.
Still not quite convinced about Flanders in autumn? Check out our other stories.
Story created on October 9, 2017