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Music Festival Destinations: Belgium.

Andy Robertson

Belgium is a relatively small country but has to be included in any music festival destination guide because it hosts one of Europe's largest and most well-known music festivals: Tomorrowland. An EDM festival held in Boom, Flanders, it stretches over two weekends and attracts well over 400,000 visitors each year. 

Considering Belgium's relatively small size and population of just 11m it hosts numerous music festivals every year probably because of its central location bordering Germany, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Belgium is famous for its chocolate, waffles and beer and is also home to NATO headquarters and the European Parliament in Brussels. The Belgians are multi-lingual speaking Dutch, French and German with 38% fluent in English too. 

The Big Ones.
The mega music festival scene in Belgium has been hit hard with cancellations in 2021 with only one sizable festival scheduled to take place, most are being rescheduled for 2022. 

Unfortunately, this mega EDM festival has been cancelled in 2021 but is scheduled to return in 2022. Despite the multi-day festival having a capacity of over 400,000 festival-goers each year tickets are rarely available and when they do go on sale sell out in a few minutes. For those lucky enough to get a ticket for 2022 the festival takes place at De Schorre in Boom situated between Antwerp & Brussels.  

Claimed to be Belgium's second largest festival (although see Dour Festival below) attracting about 180,000 visitors each year is based in Kiewit-Hasselt and has been around since 1991. It features mixed genres of Rock, Electronic, Pop, Hip hop, Punk, Heavy metal and Dance. This year's festival is scheduled for 19th –22nd August 2021.

Rock Werchter.
This four-day music festival has been around since 1976 and attracts 150,000 visitors each year. Situated in the village of Werchter, near Leuven it's one of Europe's largest rock festivals. Although the festival is focussed on Rock, Alternative rock, Heavy metal and Indie rock music it does also cater for those interested in Pop, Hip hop, Electronic and Dance music. The festival has been cancelled for 2021 but returns next year on 30th June – 3rd July 2022.

The Large Ones.
As with the mega festivals the choice for Belgium in 2021 is limited with just one notable event schedule this year. The majority of these large music festivals have now been rescheduled to 2022. 

Brussels Summer Festival.
The Brussels Summer Festival was created in 2002 as a showcase for cultural, tourist and institutional players in Brussels and covers over 70 concerts throughout the city. Music genres are mixed including Jazz, Folk, Rock, Pop, World music, Electro and Hip-hop. One of the few music festivals confirmed to go ahead this year it is scheduled for 19th - 23rd August 2021. 

Extrema Outdoor.
Part of a European festival franchise the same name festival has been around in other countries since 1992 with the Belgian edition regularly attracting 60,000 visitors to Houthalen-Helchteren. The genres are generally Electronic, House and Techno. This year's event is cancelled and rescheduled for 3rd – 5th June 2022.

Graspop Metal Meeting.
Another popular annual rock festival situated in Dessel it attracts 150,000 visitors over its four days with genres focused on Heavy metal, Extreme metal and Hard rock. As with so many other festivals in Belgium this year it’s cancelled and is now scheduled for 16th - 19th June 2022.

Dour Festival.
The five-day Dour Festival should perhaps fall into the mega festival category with over 225,000 visitors in regular attendance. The festival has been running since 1988 and features 9 stages and more than 280 bands and DJs covering a wide range of genres including Electro, Rock, Drum and bass, Pop, R&B, Reggae, House, Punk, Hardcore, Metal, Hip-hop, Indie and Techno. The 2021 festival is cancelled with next year's event scheduled for 13th – 17th July 2022. 

Belgium seems to have been particularly hard hit with cancellations in 2021 with most major music festivals now postponed until 2022. As with travelling internationally anywhere in 2021 festival-goers should check potential travel restrictions and likely infection prevention protocols in place including rapid COVID-19 tests and the possibility of mandatory vaccine passports. For those that make it to one of the handful of Belgian music festivals still confirmed for this year they will surely have a great time.

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Photo by Sebastian Ervi from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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