Here’s why you should visit Flanders in autumn
The sun nestles closer to the horizon and autumn transforms Flanders into even more of a fairy-tale setting. Brimming with things to do, you can crunch through fallen leaves in our forests, catch sight (or join) cross-country cyclists or sample some of the delicious seasonal dishes in our many restaurants and bistros. These are just some of the many reasons you simply have to experience Flanders in the autumn.
Flanders, a paradise for ramblers
The leaves have started to change colour and gently release their grip on the trees: autumn has arrived in Flanders. There’s no better time for romantic walks through Flanders’ enchanting forests and woodlands. The possibilities are endless. Retreat to bewitching Tillegem Forest in Bruges, brave the challenging slope at Kluis Forest, or discover the ancient trees of historic Sonian Forest, all just a stone's throw from bustling Brussels. It’s also in the capital where you’ll also find the celebrated Botanic Garden Meise – one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world and its recently opened Barefoot Sensory Path now allows visitors to explore the sprawling natural surroundings barefoot. You can also simply wander through at your leisure.
Delicious autumnal delights
Beer, chocolate and frites. Often, these are the first of Flanders' culinary riches that spring to mind. But while we’re proud of these specialties, there’s plenty more to discover in our gastronomical offerings. Indeed, the humble endive is actually one of the lesser-known jewels in our culinary crown. Raw, braised, sautéed or grilled, this traditional Belgian winter vegetable is sensational. Want to get better acquainted with the endive? Then try this classic Flemish dish: endives wrapped in ham with a mouthwateringly rich cheese sauce. Now is the perfect time to try one too, since endive season starts in October. Enjoy this delicacy with its touch of bitterness and simultaneously discover the fascinating journey that an endive travels from field to plate, with thanks to Flemish craftsmanship from grower to chef.
First World War: 100-year commemorations
For 90 years, the Menin Gate in Ypres has served as a memorial to the brutal First World War, which was partly fought here in Flanders Fields. Every evening, come rain or shine, the Last Post sounds there at 8pm. It does so in commemoration of the many fallen soldiers who perished in that horrific conflict. The 11th November marks exactly 100 years since the end of the war. This will be remembered with a special schedule. Naturally, the Last Post will once more echo through the streets, while the captivating ‘Great War Remembered’ concert in nearby St. Martin's Cathedral will transport visitors back to the tremulous passage in history.
Rubens, standard bearer of the Baroque city of Antwerp
Peter Paul Rubens was one of the greatest artists of the 17th century. He is the standard bearer of the Baroque style, which you can still admire today as you wander the streets of Antwerp and see the numerous Baroque buildings that echo the glory of Antwerp’s golden age. You can celebrate this pivotal era of art with the city festival ‘Baroque Antwerp 2018, Rubens Inspires’. Through this festival you can admire countless artworks, including Rubens’ ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Andrew’ for example. This particular masterpiece travelled all the way from Madrid to return home to the Rubens House for the first time in 400 years. This is the place where the great master lived and worked during his life. Immerse yourself in all things Baroque, in this exhilarating city festival, showcasing numerous exhibitions, musical projects, theatre productions, walks and readings.
Bicycle vs. Mud
When summer makes way for autumn, Flandriens swap the asphalt for the field. The Flemish fall and winter is brimful of unique cyclocross races. On the 10th of September, it all begins with the first race of the season in Eeklo, some 20 kilometres away from stately Ghent. From then on each weekend, a few dozen riders will battle their way through mud, sludge or sand somewhere in Flanders. Where and when it is, you’ll find on the international calender of the UCI. Fancy immersing yourself fully in the race course? Discover spectacular routes, innumerable challenges and an abundance of tips for planning your cycling holiday here.
Whether it’s walking or cycling, a culinary or artistic masterpiece, or a sober reminder of darker days, Flanders boasts myriad autumnal gems to astound you.
Story created on September 17, 2018