Ghent, is a flemish city, which spelled in the native language is Gent, but pronounced like gent not jents. Anyways, every summer in July Ghent has a huge festival, this year its between the 16-25 of July. The festival takes up most of the space in the city center. With booths lining the streets with food, drinks, cheesy hats, scarves and other little trinkets. Beware of the Belgian frits, waffles, candy apples, pizza, and other typical festival food. A tip from the wise is to walk at least one full circle before choosing something because you will either regret that you hadn’t see that booth with the mini donuts earlier or you will end up eating all your hearts desire at the expensive of your poor stomach.
Last summer, the festival in Ghent was incredibly entertaining and much more fun because it was over 20 degrees and sunny. I remember enjoying sitting on the patio in the sun with a refeshing drink, climbing the Belfry Tower to get a view of the city in action and walking around to the sound of music, people chattering and seeing all the different colours of summer.
This year, was a little different. There was nothing wrong with the festival, but the weather was horrid. It was soaking wet and grey. Hiding under canopies on the patios drinking a coffee for warmth, struggling with the umbrella and trying to not step in too many puddles. There was still a good turnout of people, but the parade lacked the same luster as it did in the heat last summer and there were no street performers to add to the hype.
Last year there was some break dansers and this amazing statue guy. When walking along you actually thought he was real, then all of a sudden he bent over to shake the hand of a small child who put a coin in his dish. It was amazing! I watched and laughed for a good ten minutes at least.
The festival in Ghent is unlike any other outdoor event I’ve seen in Belgium. Its so alive with things to do and see. Did I mention that its FREE!? What’s better than going to a free festival in such a beautiful and historic city? Ghent is my favorite city in Belgium. Yes, it even beats Brugge in my books. Not only does it have a canal like Brugge, you can take a boat tour like in Brugge, you can look out from atop the Belfry Tower like in Brugge, BUT its much more lively and the city center is bigger with more things to see and more shops to visit.
Ghent used to be one of the largest and richest cities in northern Europe. Its also a city “people live in” as I’ve heard other people living in Belgium describe it. Ghent even has a historical area which is as pretty as Brugge and it has even more character. You must walk through the narrow streets of the Patershol area in Ghent. It really makes you feel like you’ve walked back into the 12th century with its cobbelstoned streets so narrow that no cars go through it. With its short doorways, potted plants and quaint perfection. And if you happen to be in Ghent during the festival its a great place to take a break from the crowds and the hype. Another tourist attraction is the Castle of the Counts. Even though it somehow looks like a castle from a cartoon, its definately worth a visit. I still remember the facinating interior and the artifacts on display inside.
So ladies and gents, if I haven’t convinced you that Ghent is the city to visit in July, have a look on my Facebook page and the photos (from last year because it was sunny) you’ll be making your travel arrangements in no time. If you like the photos, please feel free to hit the “Like” button.
Have you visted Ghent before? What was your impression? Have you been to this festival? What’d you think? Please share in the comments.