6 reasons to spend your summer in Flanders
What would you like to do this summer? Parade along the royal passages and beaches of Ostend like a king? Why not take a bike ride through beautiful Flanders to a picturesque picnic spot? Or perhaps it's time to treat your ears to some delightful live music, or marvel at the artistic genius of the Flemish Masters. As you can tell, there’s plenty to experience in Flanders’ summertime.
A versatile coastline
The Flemish coast is one of the most underrated areas of Europe. Beautiful sandy beaches stretch from east to west. The ideal setting to enjoy a refreshing beer while the children play on the beach. Along that coastline, you’ll find stunning cities like Ostend, or a shopping Walhalla such as Knokke. You can enjoy a nice stroll along the beach and lose yourself in the dunes, as well as dive head first into a wealth of culture. Along the coastline you will find an abundance of contemporary works of art, some of which are part of the The Crystal Ship street artfestival in Ostend and the Beaufort Art Triennial, which stretches along the entire coastline. Both art festivals have left an indelible impression on the Belgian coast. Or dig a bit deeper and visit the Paul Delvaux Museum in Koksijde, dedicated to the life and work of the famous surrealist.
The cradle of cycling
This summer, the world’s biggest race will bring a visit to the cradle of cycling. The first stage of the Tour the France starts and finishes in Brussels. That counts as a recognition for Eddy Merckx, who won his first of five Tours de France in 1969, exactly 50 years ago. The great Merckx is celebrated by a special stage that runs over legendary cobbled climbs such as the Muur van Geraardsbergen and the Bosberg. On the second day of the Tour, the contenders ride a team time trial that finishes at the iconic Atomium.
If you’re more of a recreational cyclist, Cycling Through the Trees in the province of Limburg might be up your alley. This stunning circular cycle path in a forest takes you up to the tops of the trees. You can experience this fantastic experience from June on.
Bruegel and beyond
The great painter Pieter Bruegel embodies Flanders’ identity and has changed the way we look at art. This year, we salute the Flemish master, exactly 450 years after his passing. In Brussels’ majestic Dynasty Building, you can hop into Bruegel’s works, via a stunning 360° projection. Another gem is the interactive exhibition The World of Bruegel in Bokrijk, Flanders’ open-air museum of yesteryear. Aside from these two highlights, there’s plenty more Bruegel to enjoy.
A city palace in Mechelen
Flanders is the perfect place for culture vultures to get their fix. From famous art galleries to quirky museums, there’s a wealth of heritage to visit and enjoy. For instance, the beautiful city palace of Hof van Busleyden in Mechelen will open its permanent exhibition on 17 June. In this magnificent palace, you can learn all about the Burgundian Netherlands, a thriving era that looks into the lives of figures such as Charles the Bold, Margaret of Austria, Thomas More and Emperor Charles V. Also new this summer is Antwerp’s homage to the diamond with DIVA. This brand-new innovation centre in the diamond capital pays tribute to the craftsmanship and history of the sparkling diamond.
The sounds of summer
Would your summer be complete without live music? Whatever genre of music you enjoy, you'll find it in Flanders where there are almost 300 festivals and concerts to choose from. Tomorrowland is a festival that's brings together hundreds of DJs from around the world to spin infectious electronic beats. The biggest rock bands in the world come together for the four-day Rock Werchter festival and anyone interested in something heavier will want to check out the Graspop Metal Meeting. Jazz Middelheim welcomes both enthusiasts and the curious to beautiful green surroundings in Antwerp, while at the Couleur Café Festival in Brussels, you'll find everything from brass bands to craft workshops and exotic restaurants. For incredible cultural diversity, make sure you drope by the Ghent Festivities. It lasts ten days (and nights), with an atmosphere that has to be experienced to be believed.
Sit back, unwind and relax with a drink
With so much to do in Flanders every summer, you'll need time to unwind. And there's no better way to relax than with a nice cold beer. There are 1,500 different Belgian beers for you to choose from. Let your taste buds roam freely through the incredible varieties of brews found at festivals like BXLBeerFest at the end of august or Belgian Beer Weekend in early September, both in Brussels. Alternatively, check out one of the lively summer bars that pop up every year. They range from Parkkaffee in Ghent in July to the Skybar Antwerp rooftop lounge (July-August) or to the creative city oasis T’ile Malines in Mechelen. There you’ll truly capture the unique feeling of Flanders in summertime.
Story created on 2 July 2019