But if the crush of crowds, the blast of speakers and the wash of plastic beer cups has become too much, escape to the sea. Ostend offers a welcome respite from all the noisy musical festivals, with something equally entertaining but perhaps more enlightening. Theater Aan Zee (TAZ) is an eclectic mix of theatre, exhibitions, children’s programmes and live music, spread over various venues across Ostend.
He continues, “With the help of the Anderlecht municipally staff we cleared tonnes of dirt and waste. We started bringing manure, compost and special equipment along with the materials for the greenhouse. Slowly and gradually we started planting. The soil is good and the plants are very healthy.”
This colourful science centre in Mechelen offers more than 280 interactive exhibits that help kids (and adults) grasp the scientific concepts behind everyday objects and phenomena. The interactive activities are grouped around seven themes, such as Air/Wind, Space Travel and Waterside. The newest exhibits allow children to fly a solar-powered plane and to collect, sort, shred and process waste.
Just three kilometres from the village of Torhout, Wijnendale is a stereotypical fairy tale castle: Neo-Gothic, a moat and a drawbridge. Half of the building is private, as it is still occupied by the owners, but half has been made into an excellent museum about the castle’s history.
The original castle was built by Robrecht de Fries, Count of Flanders, towards the end of the 11th century. Successive rounds of nobility occupied the castle, and it saw numerous battles. It was finally mostly destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1811.
This is your chance to see beehives up close and to taste honey, chocolate, fruit and vegetables – all products that we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for bees and other pollinators.
The museum hosts a range of games and activities, and in-house experts will be at hand to answer questions. The younger ones will appreciate the bouncy castle and getting a face of “happy bee” make-up.
In Belgium, there are handful of independent groups that believe abandoned lots and other unused public land can be claimed back by the general population. The reason for the tag “guerrilla” is because these rogue gardeners do not own the land, so the acts are technically illegal. This doesn’t seem to deter the participants but in fact motivates them.
Although it’s not something that exactly draws spectators, heads do turn and innocent bystanders watch while the skaters scream and shout, dance and grab at each other, like little kids in a skating rink. Couples hold hands, parents hover over their kids, a truck picks up those who overestimated their skating stamina. Sometimes there’s an impromptu break dance.
It’s the kind of imposition and traffic stopper that people just don’t really seem to mind and that bemused authorities can’t find reason to restrict. But you wouldn’t get that attitude in just any capital.
Our trip meandered past various signs for fresh produce, with one farm advertising prei (leeks), another selling witloof (chicory). A highlight was undoubtedly the roadside aardbeienautomaat, with baskets of fresh strawberries waiting for purchase behind the small glass windows of a vending machine.