Festivals in Brussels

Find out about the festivals, pageants and annual events that take place in Brussels throughout the year...

Carnival (February): Carnival time is celebrated in Brussels and throughout Belgium in February each year. Celebrations last for a few weeks. Once the official carnival dates have passed there are mid Lent carnivals (Laetere, meaning rejoice), held three weeks before Easter.

Sablon Baroque Spring Festival (April): This annual festival attracts music-lovers to various venues around the Sablon area. Small groups of young musicians from the Royal Conservatoires perform 17th century baroque music. Lunchtime chamber music concerts and early evening aperitif concerts are on the programme, as well as evening performances given by prestigious orchestras. Events take place in the halls of local churches and the Place du Grand Sablon.

Europe Day (May): Every year on May 9, Europe Day is celebrated in Brussels. It celebrates 9 May 1950 when the first moves were made to create what has now become the European Union. It is an open day during which visitors may take special tours of the European parliament and city. Street entertainment and refreshments are also provided.

Zinneke Parade (May): Biennial event taking place during May since the year 2000. Also known as Big Z-Day, the streets of Brussels are filled with music, dance, costumes and floats.

Brussels Jazz Marathon (May): The major squares of Brussels, including the Grand Place and Sablon, and the bars, cafes, clubs and hotels host a variety of jazz events.

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Brussels Music Festival (June): The summer solstice is celebrated every year, with hundreds of free concerts in Brussels and Wallonia held at various venues. Each festival is based on a different theme.

European Film Festival (June/July): An annual film festival which showcases the work of young European directors. At Place Flagey in Ixelles.

Ommegang Pageant (July): The annual Ommegang Pageant recreates a celebration which took place in 1549. Emperor Charles V, his son Philip, Infant of Spain, and his sisters, Eleanor, Queen of France and Mary of Austria, gathered with their Court in the Grand Place for a festival. This medieval festival is mainly folkloric and is filled with games and entertainment and a parade running from Sablon church to the Grand Place.

Plantation du Meiboom (9 August): This festival dates back to the 14th century, when the King, Jean III of Brabant, allowed his citizens to plant trees. Today a tree is paraded through the streets of Brussels on the feast day of St-Laurent, before being planted on the corner of the Rue du Marais and the rue des Sables.

Tapis des Fleurs (August): Every other year on the Grand Place, a carpet of flowers measuring 25 x 75 metres is created from approximately half a million flowers. The carpet, which has a different theme each time, is displayed in the Grand Place for three to four days.

Comic Strip Festival (October): Every year, fans of comic strips gather to study the work of over seventy artists. As well as current work of well-known illustrators, there is also a collectors fair and many activities for children.