The official outdoor activities begin on 18 July, but Gentse Feesten (or Ghent Festivals) really kicks off with the Ghent Jazz Festival on 8 July, this year featuring BB King, Jamie Cullum and Marianne Faithfull (see story, page 16). The big electronic music festival, 10 Days Off, meanwhile, begins on 17 July at the Vooruit.
Unlike most of "the feesten", as we locals like to say, both of these festivals require the purchasing of tickets. But virtually all of the rest is free: that includes 13 public spaces with live music day and night, a street theatre festival and a puppet buskers' festival.
Both the theatre and puppet festivals are now among the most respected in Europe and are slowly beginning to equal the draw of the music, which once dominated the feesten.
Those are the big events, but many other organisations throw mini-festivals. The comedy festival, for instance, is popular, particularly the English Comedy Nights from 24-26 July.
All this can be a diversion from the carnival-like atmosphere of the main music tents, where the bulk of the drinking and late night revelling take place.