Flanders, a rambler’s paradise
The trees have changed colour and are starting to lose their leaves: autumn has arrived. This is the best time to ramble through Flanders’ splendid forests and woodlands. The possibilities are endless. Head over to Tillegem Forest near Bruges, clamber up the challenging slopes of Kluis Forest in the Flemish Ardennes, explore the historic Sonian Forest, where the trees are centuries old, or the Meise botanic garden. This magnificent 92-hectare estate just outside Brussels is celebrating its 225th anniversary this year. All the more reason to pay a visit and appreciate its fauna and flora. Be sure to take advantage of the themed autumn walk. This wends its way past the kitchen garden’s finest, colourful leaves, spiky chestnuts and a multitude of mushrooms.
Charming autumnal highlights
Beer, chocolate and chips. These are the treats that come to mind immediately when discussing Flanders’ various culinary assets. Rightly so, but endives definitely deserve to be on the list as well. These are one of those underdogs that tend to be overlooked. Raw, caramelised or braised; each cooking method shows off a different side of this tasty vegetable. To truly educate yourself about this delicacy, go classic. Wrap endives in ham, then smother them in a lovely rich cheese sauce. This is the perfect time, as endive season starts in October. Revel in endives’ slightly bitter glory and discover the journey they have undergone from the ground to your plate thanks to Flemish craftsmanship, from grower to chef.
Six days of Ghent
Flanders is cycle sport’s native land. Spring is about the renowned classic road races. As the days get shorter, however, riders find other ways to compete. They test their skills in muddy fields or speed along indoor tracks. Six Days of Ghent is a mainstay of the latter genre. Visit indoor cycling circuit het Kuipke for a unique combination of top-class sport and popular entertainment. This year promises to be even more special, as it will be the hundredth edition of the Six Days.
A place of remembrance
In Flanders Fields / the poppies blow / between the crosses / row on row. These haunting words by poet and soldier John McCrae describe the horrors of the First World War. It was a time which changed Flanders’ Westhoek forever. Some of the Great War’s bloodiest battles took place here. One million soldiers died, were injured or went missing. On 11 November we commemorate the armistice. On this date, countless war cemeteries, monuments and museums express their message with even more emphasis: no more war.
Hooray, KMSKA welcomes you again
Hallelujah, the long wait is over. Eleven years! That’s how long the doors of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp (KMSKA) remained closed for a comprehensive renovation. And the result is impressive. This temple for the fine arts has been restored to its former glory. Countless masterpieces by Peter Paul Rubens, Jan van Eyck, Anthony Van Dyck, Hans Memling, James Ensor and many, many others can't wait to see you again.
More cause for celebration
Antwerp’s world-class museum is not the only one with something to celebrate. The Museum of Fine Arts in Ghent (MSK) is also ready to party. This temple to culture is Belgium’s oldest public museum. It will be 225 years old in 2023, but refuses to wait that long to celebrate. A magnificent year of cultural celebrations has already begun. The MSK is looking back on its fascinating history with two special exhibitions, a historical tour of the museum halls and a series of art projects throughout the city.
Do the arts or cycling culture make your heart beat faster, or are culinary classics or long walks what make it sing? Or do you just love Flanders? Regardless, there is always something to be experienced here. Welcome!