It's almost festival time and Belgium connaisseurs know that this lil' country is very well known for their festivals (eat your heart out All around the country there are big festivals and it's not only the local boysband you'll see performing there. We're talking about big festivals with big names. I Love Belgium listed the biggest festivals and throws in a festival outfit. See you in the moshpit! LOVEBELGIUM
Rock Werchter, the mother of all Belgian festivals. This festival that started out with two locations (Torhout and Werchter) has become the biggest festival of Belgium. It started in 1974 and is now one of the five biggest festivals in Europe. Where it still was a one-day event in '74 attracting a more alternative crowd of skinny jeans, long haired rockers, it is now a well-oiled machine that pleases crowds from 7 till 77 programming rock and roll icons such as Iron Maiden as well number one hit machine Black Eyed Peas. In 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007, it received the Arthur award for best festival in the world at the International Live Music Conference (ILMC).
Dour Festival is certainly the dirtiest of them all but that doesn't mean it's no fun! Dour Festival is a festival in the tiny town of Dour close to the French border. It was created in 1989 with only five bands on stage, nowadays it's 4 days festival with an attendance of about 144.000. What is special about Dour? Music is played for 17 hours each day, from 12pm until 5am. So no time for sleeping (I have never seen so many waisted people together)! People are also allowed to bring their own drinks to the festival ground, so it' no so bizarre to see people walking around with large bottles of pastis at 10am. It used to be a very French festival but since it's very inexpensive and the line-up is always very visionary (young and upcoming bands that mostly end up on the big stages one or two years after they performed at Dour), it now attracts a lot of Flemish youngsters and even an intenational crowd. In January 2010, Dour Festival won the prize for the best medium-sized festival at the European Festival Awards.
Pukkelpop is the little sister of Rock Werchter although it's more alternative. The festival was founded in 1985 by youth organisation Humanistic Youth Leopoldsburg. Just like all the others, it used to a single-day event. The first edition attracted 3.000 people headlining Anne Clark. Now, it is the second largest music festival in the country after Rock Werchter, with an attendance rate of 180000 melomaniacs. I have always preferred Pukkelpop to Rock Werchter. It's just more sympathetic and less big brother. I'm not holding a grudge against Rock Werchter though, it's fantastic how it's that organized.
Les Ardentes is a new kid on the block that has been around since 2006. It positions itself as a electro-rock festival and is held in the Parc Astrid in Liège. It started out with 25.000 people and in 2010 it attracted already 60.000 people during 4 days. Since it 's in organized in a park in the city centre, it's easy access all over. There's are shuttles all the time from the train station to the festival grounds. And even if you're not into Kelis, Snoop Dogg, Mika, Kate Nash, These New Puritans (some of the headliners this yers), it's so worth to arrive in the La Gare de Guillemins, the main train stations, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. And if you're fed up with festival food, go and get yourself that tasty traditional Liègois dish, boulettes frites, sauce lapin (meatballs with fries and a sauce with oignons and Liègois syrup). The I Love Belgium team eat the best boulettes at Lequet.
The most cosmopolitan of them all. Couleur Café is a multicultural festival in the city centre of Brussels at the Tour & Taxis site. The objective has always been to be a multicultural and social festival to show the richness of a melting pot like Brussels. Also venue wise it wanted to differentiate itself from big festivals where you have wide open spaces. They started out in 1990 at the Halles de Schaerbeek. In 1994 they moved to Tour & Taxis, one of the oldest industrial sites in Europe with a lot of red brick buildings with forged iron, a unique decor. They programme not only ethnic music but also big names such as Seal, DJ Shadow and Selah Sue this year. Couleur Café is also a very family oriented festival. It's great to stroll around with the kids between the numerous stalls with ethnic jewelry, t-shirts,... Food lovers can indulge in foods coming from all different continents (try the fried plantain bananas!) or enjoy exotic cocktails in the lounge area. A festival, urban style.
So are you ready to pack your tent and do you want to be in the mosh pit for four days or are you more of a city girl that swings her hips to an African beat and enjoys her mojito? Festivals are great in every way and Belgium has loads of festivals to choose from. The choice of festival is maybe a difficult question, but the biggest question will be: What will you be wearing? I Love Belgium made a selection of how you can represent stylishly our country on every possible festival site.
Dries Van Noten - dégradé shirt dress
N.D.C made by hand - slouchy boot
Nico Uytterhaegen - red leather Amsterdam shoulder bag
Maison Martin Margiela - leather jacket
Christophe Coppens - yellow sisal totem hat