If you're thinking of visiting Belgium for your next holiday, Bruges makes for a wonderful destination. The beautiful city is known as the Venice of the North as a result of its many canals, so hire a boat and explore, taking in the many summer events scheduled throughout July and August.
There's plenty to see and do in Bruges regardless of the time of year you travel, but if you want to go away during the summer, you'll find many events worth attending between sightseeing trips. Take a look at our guide to Bruges' summer season.
The Cactus Festival
An award-winning event, the Cactus Festival will take place in Minnewater Park on July 6th, 7th and 8th and will incorporate performances from both famous and lesser known musicians. Regarded as a Belgian Glastonbury, the trendy event draws campers in their droves, and you can rest in the knowledge you'll have a comfortable boat to return to after taking in the acts each day.
Among the musicians set to perform this year are Paulo Nutini, Razorlight and Chris Cornell, along with Zita Swoon Group, Low and Black Box Revelation.
Bruges Triple Days
Also during July is Brugge Tripel Dagen, which translates to Bruges Triple Days in English. This three-day event brings together local artists and performers who put on shows for visitors and locals alike at the market square.
Taking place on July 21st, the event attracts around 20,000 people, with the highlight being the Flanders Sing - a sing-along event of classic songs printed on booklets and handed out during the event.
Heading into August, the next main event in the city is Benenwerk, or legwork, which is also known as Brugeoise Ballroom. The event sees the city come alive with dance as around ten stages are erected throughout the settlement and dancers show their skills. All sorts of dance are represented, from Capoeira to flamenco, and you can even have a go yourself.
The MA Festival has long been an important date in Bruges calendar, having first been held in 1964. Taking place between August 3rd and 12th, the event will comprise various concerts from musicians and singers such as Sabine Devieilhe, Clement Janequin, countertenor Dominique Visse and Mahan Esfahani.
As well as the main concerts, the festival includes the Utrecht Fringe, which will comprise ten ensembles who will showcase their talents in the realm of early music at the Provincial Hof.
Klinkers - Bruges Music Festival
Deriving its name from the Flemish word for vowel, klink, Klinkers is a popular festival that consists of concerts, children's entertainment and comedy shows. This year, the festival will run between July 27th and August 11th and will include performances by a range of musicians, dancers and comedians. Among those showcasing their talents will be the ska-rock group Babylon Circus, flamenco performers Manuel Linan and Belen Maya, comedians Wim Helsen and Bart Cannaerts and punk band The Scabs.
Belgium is renowned for its lace and beer, so it's not surprising to find an event dedicated to these famous exports. Lace Days is a four-day extravaganza held at De Halve Maan Brewery where exhibitors show their wares for visitors to see, sample and buy. The event is usually held in August, but details are yet to be confirmed.
Not far from Bruges is Lissewege, and the village is renowned for its Lichtfeest - a festival of light descended from folklore. It's worth taking the time to venture out of the city during your boating holiday in Belgium and head to the nearby town for the event, which includes a procession of lights, street performers and live concerts.
The event is traditionally held to ward off evil spirits and dates back to 1611, when - according to folklore - the villagers drowned a local witch whose body was never found, and an evil curse befell the settlement afterwards.
The leisure park Boudewijnpark is open during the summer months, and is a must-visit if you're taking a holiday with children. Situated on the edge of Bruges, the park has rides, water slides and an astronomical clock, and also puts on a variety of shows with its resident dolphins. Other animals that live at the park include sea lions and eagles, and youngsters will love watching them frolic around and perform tricks.