Celebrate national holiday with fireworks, fries and fair play

Summary

As King Filip praises the Red Devils for their exploits in Russia this summer and awards honorary titles to luminaries in science and society, Brussels is ready to throw another big 21 July party

Party time

King Filip has praised the achievements of the Belgian football team in his traditional speech to mark Belgium’s National Day. He described their efforts in finishing third in this summer’s World Cup as living proof of the national motto: “unity is strength”.

“What makes the performance by our team exceptional is the way in which they did it: with fair play and respect for their opponent,” he said in his televised address on the eve of the holiday.

Dozens of events are being held across the country on Saturday to mark National Day, 21 July. In Brussels, the themes are the centenary of the Armistice and the fifth anniversary of Filip ascending to the throne following the abdication of his father, Albert in 2013.

The day will begin with a religious service in the city’s cathedral, attended by the royal family. The police, the interior ministry and the military medical services will be spending the day on the Zavel, Poelaertplein and Koningsplein giving demonstrations to the public, and there will be a day-long party in the Warande Park, in front of the palace, with music, family activities and parades.

A military procession at Paleizenplein is due to begin at 16.00, and there will be a giant open-air restaurant on Vossenplein serving mussels and fries. The day will end with a fireworks display at 23.00 in front of the palace.

Meanwhile, King Filip has awarded a number of titles to notable citizens during the traditional National Day honours.

Among those recognised are neurologist Steven Laureys and neuroscientist Bart De Strooper, who have both been named Commander in the Order of Leopold. Criminologist and behavioural therapist Ingrid De Jonghe becomes a baroness, while Pieter Timmermans, director-general of employers’ organisation VBO, has been made a baron.

Photo: Nicolas Maeterlinck/Belga