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Trip List by sabrina_ide

Annual events and happenings

13 Jul 2011  tourist office employee
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 4 votes

Bruges is not only a beautifully preserved historical city, but also a cultural one. It should come as no surprise that we have some (large) events that return each year, or every few years.

This list is dedicated to our most famous events. I try to keep it up to date by adding dates for next editions. However, I don't always have time, so if you spot a mistake, please let me know!

FYI: contact me personally if you wish to receive this list in PDF-format. Easier to print and with a better layout.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Repeat visitors, Theater
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Where to find up-to-date event information?

    The most up to date information can be found on the event page of the tourist office. You can browse events online or download the monthly calendar for free (example: August events are available at the end of July). The event calendars can also be found in the local tourist offices and many b&b's and hotels.
    When already in Bruges you can head to the cultural tourist office on 't Zand square. It's on the ground floor of the Concert Hall / Concertgebouw.

  • 2. Christmas market

    The Christmas market takes place on the Market square and Simon Stevinplein. You can find food and drink stands, but mostly souvenir stands with all kinds of X-mas materials.

    Opening hours
    * every day from 10h30 untill 19h00
    * on Monday, Thursday and Sunday: possibly open untill 22h00 (depending on weather conditions)
    * on Friday and Saturday: possibly open untill 23h00 (depending on weather conditions)
    On X-mas and 1 January the stand holders can decide for themselves whether or not they open.
    On NYE only the Christmas market on the Market square will be open.

    On the Market square you also find an ice skating rink, till ...
    Opening hours::
    * every day from 10h00 until 12h00 (ONLY for groups when booked in advance!)
    * every day from 12h00 until one hour before the closure of the X-mas market
    On the last day the ice skating rink closes at 16h00.

    NEXT EDITIONS - confirmed by the city council in June 2012:
    2014: 21/11/2014 until 02/01/2015, ice rink until 02/01/2015
    2015: 27/11/2015 until 02/01/2016, ice rink until 02/01/2016
    2016: 25/11/2016 until 02/01/2017, ice rink until 02/01/2017
    2017: 24/11/2017 until 02/01/2018, ice rink until 02/01/2018
    2018: 23/11/2018 until 02/01/2019, ice rink until 02/01/2019

  • 3. Snow and Ice sculptures

    Each winter the square in front of the train station houses a large white tent. And each year thousands flock to this tent to visit the annual Snow and Ice Sculptures. Every edition has a different theme.
    Themes from previous years include: Ice Magic, Harry Potter, Ice Age and Around the world in snow and ice (famous UNESCO monuments & buildings) and Disney's Frozen.

    Walking through the three sections usually takes about an hour. There is often an ice bar inside as well as various photo opportunities and a ice slide for children. Afterwards you can warm yourself up in the adjoining cafe.

    NEXT EDITION: it's unsure whether the ice sculptures will continue in Bruges... the organisation hasn't decided on a location for 2014-2015 yet.

  • 4. May fun fair

    Many kids count down to this fun fair and truth be told: who wouldn't?
    't Zand square, Beursplan and Koning Albert park transform into a colourful attraction park.

    NEXT EDITION: mid-April 2014 until mid-May 2014

  • 5. Holy Blood Procession

    The Holy Blood Procession is a religious procession, dating back to medieval times. It has been organised in Bruges every year since the late 13th century. In 2009 it was added to UNESCO's list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

    The procession shows scenes from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the legend of how the blood of Christ arrived in Bruges. Since 1970 the procession takes place on Ascension Day.

    It's one of the largest events in Bruges and if you want tickets for the grandstands or benches you need to book in advance. See our 2013 flyer (click on the link) for more information. Procedure and prices will likely remain the same.

    NEXT EDITION: 29/05/2014 | Tickets available as of March 2014

  • 6. Zandfeesten

    The "Zandfeesten" (= Zand festivities) are the annual highlight for many people on the hunt for bargains. This large flea market is held 3x a year on 't Zand square (hence the name) and in the King Albert park, between 't Zand square and the train station.
    The official start is at 6h00, but diehard buyers and sellers are known to be on location as early as 4h00! At 18h00 the fun is over.

    NEXT EDITIONS, always on a Sunday:
    2014: 06/07/2014, 03/08/2014 and 28/09/2014
    2015: 05/07/2015, 02/08/2015 and 27/09/2015

  • 7. Cactus festival

    One of Europe's most beloved small festivals takes place in Bruges' Minnewater park. Every summer people gather here to enjoy the musical talent of national and international bands offering visitors a diverse line-up. Cactus is the perfect place for tourists to mingle with locals.

    NEXT EDITION: a weekend in July 2014

  • 8. Klinkers

    Like Cactus, Klinkers is another hit with the local people from Bruges. During several weeks many small concerts that take place in Bruges' streets, squares and parks. The open character and laid back atmosphere of the festival appeals to a lot of locals and tourists alike. It always ends with a large dance event called Benenwerk.

    NEXT EDITION: several days in July 2014

  • 9. Reiefeesten

    This festival, staged along the fairylike illuminated canals and on the Burg square, is a captivating pageant with various scenes taking the spectators back into the fascinating Middle Ages, the flowering Burgundian era, the flattering Renaissance and the frivolous Baroque period. All scenes, involving over 600 participants who make music, sing and dance, are performed without intermission, each one independently. The festival takes place once every three years.

    NEXT EDITION: 2016 (last time was in August 2013)

  • 10. Gouden Boom stoet

    The Pageant of the Golden Tree (Gouden Boomstoet) is held every 5 years and was first organised in 1958. Like the famous Holy Blood Procession the Golden Tree procession is a colourful and historic parade through the streets of Bruges.
    See the flyer (click on the link) for more information on the procession, the route and ticket prices.

    NEXT EDITION: 2017 (last time was in August 2012)

  • 11. MAfestival

    MAFestival (formerly known as Musica Antiqua) offers each year an inspirational array of classic music concerts. On special and historic locations throughout Bruges, and Lissewege, you can enjoy the cosy atmosphere and mingle with locals with a taste for hip classical music.

    NEXT EDITION: summer 2014

  • 12. Beer festival

    See, look, smell, and most importantly...TASTE our Belgian beers at the annual beer festival in Bruges. It's the finest introduction to the "yellow gold" and an event not to be missed. There are tastings, demonstrations, entertainment for the little ones and a beer restaurant. The festival will take place in Beurshalle, in Hauwerstraat. The Belfry can no longer accommodate the number of breweries and visitors.

    NEXT EDITION: 01/02/2014 and 02/02/2013 (in Beurshalle, NOT IN THE BELFRY ANYMORE)

  • 13. Chocolate festival

    Choco-Late is a chocolate festival like no other. The trade fair for chocolate professionals and the place to go for everyone who is mad about chocolate. For several days you can see the best chocolatiers, bakers, pastry chefs and top chefs live at work, sample boundary shifting chocolate creations, admire sculptors and body painters who work with chocolate and get acquainted with the latest chocolate trends. And then there is naturally also chocolate wellness, fair trade and the international Chocolate Competition. The little ones can let their hair down in the Choco Kids village. A chocolate paradise full of goodies and finger-licking workshops. In short, heaven on earth for chocoholics.

    NEXT EDITION: unknown - there was NO festival or market in 2013

  • 14. December Dance

    This international festival takes place throughout the city, on various locations (City Theater, Concerthall and Magdalenazaal). The festival highlights the contemporary dance scene and features dance legends from across the world as well as upcoming young talent. Check out the entire program on the official website.

    NEXT EDITION: December 2014

  • 15. Tickets for concerts / events

    On this website you can buy tickets for shows, concerts, walking tours ..... etc

    MIND: you need to register on the website in order to purchase tickets.

  • 16. Cultuurcentrum

    Another website where you can buy tickets.

  • 17. Concertgebouw

    Official website of the modern Concert Hall on 't Zand square.