Magnificently autumnal Flanders
The sun nestles closer to the horizon and autumn transforms Flanders into even more of a fairy-tale setting, brimming with heritage. The Flemish forests, the rich heritage of Bruegel, the Flandrien cross-country cyclists or a traditional Flemish culinary sensation. These are just some of the many reasons you simply have to experience Flanders in the autumn.
Flanders, a paradise for ramblers
The leaves change colour and gently release their grip on the trees: autumn has arrived in Flanders and there's no better time for strolling 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, where you will also find the celebrated Botanic Garden Meise. One of the oldest botanical gardens in the world, its recently opened Barefoot Sensory Path now allows visitors to explore the sprawling natural surroundings barefoot.
Bruegel autumn events
In 2019, it will have been 450 years since the renowned painter Pieter Bruegel the Elder passed away. To mark this occasion, across Flanders this autumn there will be a range of exhibitions and tributes to the Flemish Master. Discover Bruegel's brilliance in the Museum Mayer van den Bergh, where you can gaze upon his masterpiece 'Twelve Proverbs on Plates' and the recently restored De Dulle Griet (also known as Mad Meg). Or take part in one of the four Bruegel weekends this autumn, where you can enjoy a close-up view of the Bruegel's prints. Or visit Beyond Bruegel in Brussels, an immersive, multimedia-exhibition that allows you to uncover the sharpest details in the artist's many masterpieces. And that's just a small selection of the dozens of Bruegel-related activities.
Delicious autumnal delights
Beer, chocolate and frites. These are invariably the first of Flanders' countless culinary riches that spring to mind. And, rightly so! However, this list is no way reflects all that Flanders has to offer. Indeed, the humble endive more than deserves its place amongst them. Instead, as one of the underdogs, it's all too often overlooked despite the fact that endives are a jewel in our culinary crown. Raw, braised, sautéed or grilled, this traditional Belgian winter vegetable is unceasingly sublime. 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 as 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.
The surrealism of Magritte
Brussels is one of the birthplace of surrealism, thanks to the renowned René Magritte, one of the founding fathers of the art movement. The masterpieces by this man from Brussels challenge reality, contest our view of the things we know and remove any sense of certainty we may have had. The autumn, this treasure trove of surrealist heritage is celebrated in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels (KMSKB). With the unique exhibition Dalí and Magritte, the KMSKB is acknowledges the link between Magritte and his Spanish peer, Salvador Dalí. The exhibition zooms in on the personal, philosophical and aesthetic relationship between the two inonic artists, through over 80 paintings, sculptures, photos, animations, films and archive documents. This exhibition promises to be an unmissable experience.
Cycling goes off road
When summer makes way for autumn, Flandriens swap the road for the field. In September, the cyclo-cross season begins. From that moment onwards, the law of the field applies. Each weekend, a few dozen riders will battle their way through mud, sludge or sand somewhere in Flanders. So, don your wellies, search for a cyclo-cross of your choice, and cheer on these gladiators in their field in a unique setting. As the days shorten, you can also find a good place to be is in the Kuipke in Ghent, for the legendary Six Days of Ghent. Here, the very best sporting performances, popular culture and entertainment are seamlessly combined. Would you like to immerse yourself in the experience? Discover impressive routes, a range of challenges and tons of tips for planning cycling breaks 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 23, 2019