National holiday: The very Belgian way to celebrate the 21st of July
This year, our national holiday on the 21st of July will be a bit different due to the covid-19 crisis. No parade, no national bal nor national restaurant, not even the traditional fireworks. You may feel like this special day might not be special at all? No worries, Louis, Marie & Marie from our Imagine Belgium team are here to save the party!
Whether or not you are from here, we made a bucket list, just for you, of things to do to celebrate the 21st of July in a very Belgian way! Our national motto is « Unity is strength », so let’s have a great 2020 national holiday, no matter what!
Eat a cornet of fries in your favorite « frietkot »
We love fries, a lot! In fact there are about 5,000 frietkots in the entire country… that makes one frituur for every Belgian village! On average we eat fries once per week, they are considered to be our « social dish » by excellence. We eat them solo with mayonnaise, we also eat them with mussels or with a « fricadelle ». It’s a true love story between our fries and us! To the point that we recognised them as part of Belgium’s intangible cultural heritage!
But as you know, this year is a bit special. With the sanitary crisis, we couldn’t eat as much fries as usual and so our beloved Belgian potatoes were being wasted. So, the first thing to do on the 21st of July of course is to go to your favorite frietkot. Save potatoes, Eat fries!
Drink an authentic Belgian beer
What goes best with Belgian fries? A Belgian beer of course! We count around 1.500 types of beers brewed in Belgium. Our beer culture is internationally well known and the consecration came in 2016 when the Unesco inscribed our beer culture as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity! Cheers to that!
Amongst our Belgian beers, our Trappist beers are probably one of the best delicacies. Nowadays there are only 12 Trappist beers in the world with the logo « Authentic Trappist Product ». Fortunately for us, six of them are brewed in Belgium! Generation after generation, six Belgian abbeys keep brewing Trappist beers under the supervision of monks who keep following the ancestral process. Achel, Chimay, La Trappe, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle or Westvleteren, Belgian Trappist beers are a real national treasure. On the 21st of July, let’s honor them, with moderation of course!
Our little tip: For those who drink beer and those who don’t, we encourage you to visit our famous abbeys to know everything about hop and fermentation. And if you go to the Abbey of Saint-Sixte in Westvleteren, you may even have the chance to (have a drink) meet Brother Godfried.
Ride a « cuistax » like a pilot at the North Sea
Ah, riding a « cuistax » at the Noordzee*, running through the crowd and laughing with some cousins and friends! Such a lovely memory for so many grownup Belgians who used to spend holidays on the coast… Wait! Cuistax is ALSO for grownups, so why don’t you go to Ostend, Blankenberge, or even in Duinbergen next to Knokke, to fall back into childhood with your racing cuistax like in the good old days?
*For those who don’t know what the f*** is a cuistax, just imagine a mix between a bike but with four wheels and a mini-taxi to go along the seaside. That is a cuistax! It’s a typical Belgian activity that children and families love to do as soon as there is a bit of sunshine.
Look for some green in South Brussels
Many Brusselers love to go to « Bois de la Cambre » or to the « Forêt de Soignes » to get some fresh air away from the crowded city. The Forêt de Soignes is an exceptional area classified as part of the Natura 2000 network and shared between the 3 Belgian regions. It is a classic Sunday activity to go for a walk, cycle through the forest, or meet some friends and family for a picnic in the greenest area of South Brussels. We highly recommend that you follow the tram route 44. You will be astonished by the view as the tramway literally goes into the forest to bring you up to the terminus in Tervuren.
Enjoy 4 iconic attractions in Brussels
Ladies and gentlemen, here is our super tip for you to enjoy the national holiday!
Did you know that 4 iconic attractions in Brussels are celebrating the 21st of July? The Mini-Europe, the Comics Art Museum, Choco Story & the Atomium are offering a 21% discount on the 21st. What a great opportunity to do some black-yellow-red tourism for the occasion. Let’s (re)discover Belgium this summer and let’s start tomorrow by visiting some of the best museums of Brussels!
Walk deep in the heart of Ardennes
Another very Belgian way to celebrate your national holiday is to go for a walk to the Ardennes. We are so lucky to have such a natural patrimony full of wide forests and peaceful rivers. It would be a shame not to enjoy this area during the summer! So if you want to reconnect with our Belgian Mother Nature, you will definitely enjoy doing some forest bathing in the Ardennes. Apart from the seaside, the Ardennes are one of the favorite places where Belgians go to rest and spend their weekends. Here is another way to celebrate the 21st of July: going for some nice walks deep in the heart of Ardennes in Wallonia. It’s as nice as eating-some-fries-and-drinking-a-beer in Brussels or being-a-pilot-on-a-cuistax on the Flemish coast.
Have a special thought this year
This year, our 21st of July will be dedicated to the victims of the coronavirus and to those who are (still) at the forefront to fight against the pandemic. At 10am, all the bells from all the churches in Belgium will ring for the tribute. If you feel like, you can take part in the action by respecting the 3 minutes of silence from your home.
As we said, our motto is « Unity is strength » so let’s celebrate – and not forget – our 21st of July in the very Belgian way.
Imagine Belgium has at heart to offer activities accessible to the greatest number of people. As of this summer, we offer the opportunity to try our brand new virtual reality experience to discover Belgium from the Grand Place of Brussels. Stay tuned for more info very soon.