Ghent and its festivals

Ghent festivals

Ghent and its festivals


Ghent is an increasingly popular tourist destination for travelers visiting Belgium. Every year the number of tourists who decide to spend a day or a weekend. In the city that one day saw the birth of Charles V of Germany and I of Spain increases. People come wanting to know its spectacular cathedral, its impressive medieval castle in the center of the city, its many bell towers, …

But Ghent hides secrets that can only be discovered once you get there.

Ghent and its festivals


And if there is a secret to discover in Ghent, it is its festivities. Known as the Gentse Feensten ( they are held every year at the end of July. It is a cultural folk festival that lasts ten days and is celebrated throughout the city.

The start date is the Friday before the third Sunday of the month of July and ends on the fourth Sunday of the month. So keep these dates in mind if, in addition to seeing a well-preserved medieval city, you want to see it at its peak.

A little history about the holidays


The festivities of Ghent have more than 170 years of history behind them, since the first time they were celebrated was in 1843. Before this first edition in each neighborhood the workers celebrated their own neighborhood festivals. Every Sunday and began to take place an absenteeism problem on Mondays. So the city council to tackle this problem decides to unify all the festivals in each neighborhood and create the Ghent festivals on a specific date.

Obviously, at first they were not at all similar to how we know them today. They went through very different vicissitudes that made us think that they would end with them. Like when in the 60s of the 20th century people. Thanks to the new comforts, decided to go to the coast or abroad to spend the holidays and Ghent was left empty .

It was necessary to give a return to some very traditional festivals and they decided to risk incorporating the folk festival, which brought music to the streets of the city. It was a resounding success and from that moment on the parties only increased in activities, events and the public.

What can we expect from the festivities in Ghent


The Ghent festivals are not heterodox festivals that can be easily or simply defined. It is said that they are the largest open-air cultural festival in all of Europe, since it is a mixture of patron saint, cultural and folk festivals. There are a multitude of events both musical, cultural, historical or dedicated to children.

Among the most noted activities are the four international festivals: the International Festival of Busker Puppets, an art highly valued since the 16th century in Belgium. In which performances are held in various parts of the city, the Miramir, which is a theater festival that performs with international groups throughout the city, the Ghent Jazz Festival and the Ten Days off (, which is a very important electronic music festival.

Much more than music and theater …

In addition to enjoying all these musical and theatrical events, the city offers cultural activities in more than ten different points, including the river itself, which is filled with music and light. Yes, also light, because there is space for light and sound shows or fireworks.

The tourist can also do special activities that at other times are forbidden, such as being able to climb the bell tower of the Cathedral of Saint Bavon. If you dare to climb its more than 400 steps, you can enjoy the most spectacular view of the city and that is only possible on those days.

View from the Cathedral of Saint Bavo
View from the Cathedral of Saint Bavo

When it comes to food and drink, don’t worry, because the whole city is full of street stalls where you can taste typical dishes and Belgian beers. The entire city surrenders to its festivities and celebrates these 10 days. In such a special way that it is impossible not to want to miss it or experience it, even just once. So we encourage you to plan your trip during this time and get to experience Ghent to the full.

If you want to enjoy Ghent. To the full, we encourage you to join our tours. The  Free Tour Ghent, we will tell you the story and show you the most iconic buildings and  Free the Hidden Ghent, to discover what is not seen with the naked eye.