Every July the city of Ghent in Belgium becomes the stage for a 10-day city festival full of music and theatre. The local festival called the Ghent Festival or Gentse Feesten may not sound familiar, but it is one of the largest city festivals in Europe attracting over one million visitors every year. The festival dates back to 1843 and has grown significantly over the last 173 years with free music spread over more than 10 locations in the city centre. After hearing great things about the Ghent Festival, I decided to go there myself this year.
During this 10-day festival, you will find a wide range of artists; from local street artists to national and international artists. The program of the Ghent Festival is more family oriented in the afternoon while the party starts in the evening. There are several locations in the city centre all within walking distance and with different themes. Around the canals, you will find the main stage named Polé Polé (meaning take it easy) with world music mostly from South America. It was on this stage where I saw BMW, Brothers Making Wisdom, from Aruba perform a combination of hip-hop, soca and reggae songs.
Other stages included a Mardi Grass theme where DJ’s were playing and local artists such as Duplicate from the Voice playing at the Groentestage. In case you would like to practice your salsa moves you should definitely head over to the Baudelohof (Salsa bar). No worries if you don’t have a dance partner, the people of Ghent are very friendly and will definitely invite you for a dance. After 2 AM there is an after party for those interested and last till six in the morning.
Besides the festival, the city is a wonderful historical place with the beautiful castle Gravensteen and many different churches. In addition, Ghent has a lot of nice bars, a great food scene and many young inhabitants since it’s a student city. And, with a great food scene, I am not just referring to the Belgium beers and fries! There are several ways to explore the city namely by foot, bicycle or boat. When you want to escape the crowdedness of the festival it’s only 45 minutes to one hour to Bruges and Antwerp as well as to the seaside.
If you’re looking for a great place to stay during your time in Ghent, I can definitely recommend the Art Deco Design apartment on Airbnb.
This post was written by our friend Chantal, like us a foodie and a great travel buddy! Follow Chantal on Instagram and stay updated on her travels.