The Belgian festival summer: something we all look forward to every year. With numerous big and small festivals on Belgian grounds, there’s no need to travel far to have a memorable summer. In this article you’ll read about five of the most popular festivals in the country, Europe and maybe even the world!
Rock Werchter is a four-day pop-rock festival. It takes place in, you’ll never guess, the tiny village of Werchter. Rock Werchter is one of the biggest festivals of Belgium as it can host 88.000 music fans per day. The first edition was organised in the year 1975, when it was still a one-day event called Torhout-Werchter and took place in both Torhout (West-Flanders) and Werchter (Flemish Brabant), and artists would perform twice in one weekend to cover both locations.
Today, the festival meadow consists of one open air main stage, two indoor stages called Klub C and The Barn, and one smaller outdoor stage, The Slope. In 2019, the most recent, visitors could sing along with P!nk, Bastille, The Cure, Mumford & Sons, Florence and the Machine, Muse and many more popular artists.
Under the Rock Werchter umbrella, there’s also the smaller events TW Classic and Werchter Boutique. Two variants of the bigger festival with different target audiences and artists. TW Classic aims at the public that was there from the early years of Rock Werchter. It’s a one-day event with one stage that invites different (older) groups. In 2019 artists such as Bon Jovi, John Fogerty and Jimmy Barnes performed.
Werchter Boutique is more of a family event. In 2019 the one-day festival welcomed Fleetwood Mac, Snow Patrol, Triggerfinger and more to the stage.
Whichever variant of the festival floats your boat, it’s worth a visit for sure!
Next edition: June 30th – July 3rd 2022
Pukkelpop, another four-day ultra-popular summer festival that takes place in Kiewit (a tiny village next to Hasselt in the Limburg province) in mid-August. First organised in 1985, Pukkelpop started to gain popularity quickly and welcomed about 130.000 visitors every year in the early 2000’s. In 2009, the festival expanded and now counts up to 180.000 guests each year.
In 2011, Pukkelpop started off as a sunny edition on the 18th of august, but later that day the weather suddenly changed into a strong local thunderstorm. The storm made the ‘Château-tent’, one of the festival’s stages, collapse. Unfortunately, five visitors passed away that day. After the disaster, it wasn’t clear for a while whether there would be another edition, but in November 2011 the organisers announced that Pukkelpop would continue to take place.
In contrast to Rock Werchter, Pukkelpop has a younger audience and a more varied mix of genres and artists. It hosts eight different stages and the program is noted for its wide variety of alternative music, spanning styles such as rock, pop, electronic, dance, hip-hop, punk and heavy metal. The event’s organizers aim for a “progressive and contemporary” musical event.
Next edition (COVID-permitting): 19th – 22nd of August 2021
Tomorrowland – Live Today, Love Tomorrow, Unite Forever
One of the most famous festivals in the word, this one probably sounds familiar. Tomorrowland is a massive and widely known dance festival that takes place in ‘De Schorre’ in Boom (province of Antwerp) over two weekends in July. In 2012, it was recognized as the best dance festival worldwide. In 2019, the festival celebrated its 15th edition with a whopping 400.000 visitors. Tomorrowland welcomes visitors from over 200 different nationalities. To make sure Belgian music lovers have a chance to get their hands on a ticket, half of the tickets are reserved for people officially living in Belgium (so, that’s you as well!).
Tomorrowland is more than a festival; it’s a unique experience, famous for its exceptional style and decorations.
How they express it themselves:
The People of Tomorrow. We believe in enjoying life to the fullest without having to compromise everything. We are responsible for the generation of tomorrow and respect each other and Mother Nature.
in a commitment to create a reality that relates positively with Mother Nature and contributes to the well-being of the next generations. Let’s engage with each other and do something good today, for which we will be grateful for tomorrow.”
The Tomorrowland concept is so successful that it has been exported to other countries (Brazil, USA) and there even is a Tomorrowland Winter edition, which takes over a skiing village for a week of DJ sets on the skiing slopes.
Curious what their line-up looked like in 2019? Have a look here!
Next edition (COVID-permitting): 27th – 29th of August 2021 and 3rd – 5th of September 2021
Graspop, also known as Graspop Metal Meeting (GMM), is a metal festival that takes place in Dessel (Limburg province) in the month of June. Graspop celebrated its first edition in 1996 and now welcomes 135.000 visitors yearly. The festival has been inviting many great artists from the very beginning. In 1996 Iron Maiden starred as headliner, followed by Slayer. 23 years later, in 2019, Slayer was back as a main act, together with Slipknot and Kiss.
Next edition: 16th – 19th of June 2022. This will be the 25th edition and has a promising line-up, with big artists such as Judas Priest, Aerosmith and Iron Maiden.
Of course, a festival in Brussels should also be on this list. Couleur Café is a three-day urban music festival based in Brussels, close to the Atomium. The festival provides performances of a wide range of artists and different genres such as funk, hiphop, reggae, dance, soul, blues and rock. In other words, it’s a festival for all tastes! The line-up is filled with international and local artists. In 2019, visitors danced to the beats of Sean Paul, Zwangere Guy, Craig David and many more.
Apart from music performances, you will also find an art exhibition, a market, dance workshops, cocktail bars, food stands and even a ‘namaste’ village to unwind.
Want to feel like you’re there already? Check the Couleur Café Spotify playlist over here!
Next edition: 24th – 26th of June 2022