Belgian holidays range from folklore or religious celebrations to music and film extravaganzas, national days, sporting events, and special tourist occasions. With the exception of the Christmas and New Year season, which is celebrated all over the country with love and enthusiasm, most celebrations take place during the warmer months of spring and early summer.
New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Belgium’s annual festival and event calendar kicks off late on New Year’s Eve with parties, outdoor and indoor gatherings, street parades, and special events in bars and pubs all taking place before the magic clock strikes midnight and the firework displays begin. Live music, festive food, and copious amounts of beer are permanent fixtures.
The February Carnival has its roots in the Roman Catholic season of Lent. This is traditionally a time of excess and indulgence in food, drink, and recreation before religious dietary restrictions kick in. With its colorful street parades, local street parties, live music events, decorated homes and costumed residents, and food and beer extravaganzas, Brussels is the best place to experience Carnival.
Formula One Grand Prix in Belgium
Residents and visitors to Ardennes alike look forward to the fantastic Formula 1 Grand Prix race at the city’s Circuit de Francorchamps in the last week of August. Thousands of visitors attend the race, which fills hotels to capacity and bars, pubs, and restaurants to capacity. Room rates are skyrocketing, and advance reservations are required. Whichever driver wins, it’s an amazing spectacle.
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This international film festival, held in Bruges, Belgium, attracts film professionals from all over the world. It’s a truly international event that takes place every March and features full-length and short films, as well as documentaries from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The event lasts ten days and includes screenings at the Lumière Art House and the Liberty blockbuster cinema.
Van Vlaanderen Festival
This massive celebration of theater, music, and dance takes place in venues throughout Brussels and Flanders from April to October. Fine classical music, theater, and dance performances are held in public venues such as historic buildings, abbeys, churches, town halls, theaters, and even outdoors during the summer months.
Procession of the Blood of Christ
This magnificent Christian pageant, which first took place in Bruges, Belgium in 1150, is one of Europe’s most important religious festivals. Every May, the Count of Flanders, who donated the relic of the Holy Blood to the town after his return from the Crusades in 1149, parades it through the medieval streets. The procession travels a mile and includes 1,500 selected citizens.
The Zinneka Parade
The Zinneke Parade takes place in Brussels during the city’s transformation into a colorful hub of lively activities. Every May, the parade, known as Big Z-Day by the locals, includes live music, concerts, dance, street parties, and the wearing of costumes by all and sundry. Everyone has a good time because the bars and pubs put on their own events and specials.
George and the Dragon
This one-of-a-kind annual event is a must-see for all visitors to Belgium in June. It is one of Europe’s oldest festivals, held in the town of Mons, and has its roots in folklore passed down through the centuries. It is based on a massive re-enactment of the St George and the Dragon legend, with the battle between good and evil taking place in front of thousands of spectators in the town square. After defeating the dragon, the parties flee into the night.
Belgian Independence Day
Although Belgian National Day is observed throughout the country on July 21, the main events take place in Brussels. Fireworks displays, street performers, costumed characters, and a massive military parade in Brussels Park commemorate the country’s independence, which was achieved following the Belgian Revolution in 1830.
Meyboom, held in Brussels, Belgium, is the country’s oldest traditional festival. The event, which is mostly held outside in the warm August weather, includes brass bands, a display of giant puppets, dancing, traditional folk music, and plenty of food and beverages.
Beer Festival in Brussels
This popular three-day celebration of Belgium’s most famous product takes place in Brussels in September. It is held on the grounds of the Grand Palace and includes stands selling nearly every variety of the country’s excellent craft beers at reasonable prices. The event is free to attend, and live music keeps things moving.
The Flower Show in Brussels
This show, held every October at the capital’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart, is a must for floral extravaganza fans, with the spectacular building filled with water displays, glorious floral arrangements, and rare plants.