Belgium! It was good to be back in a place where I knew we’d have some sort of a stable life for a while.
Three major things happened while we were there for the summer: Gentse feesten, Tomorrowland, and Pukkelpop. All festivals because I guess Belgians just like to party all summer.
The Gentse feesten (Ghentian festival) runs for one and a half weeks and different musical stages are set up in all of the medieval squares of Ghent; it’s free to see. There are performances from the late afternoon on, and buskers throughout the day. You can get tasty fries, waffles, Bicky burgers, and other typical Belgian food from the vendors. You can drink whatever you want on the streets (although you could kind of do that anyway because it’s Europe) and it’s really just one giant party through the city.
Some people go out EVERY night. I don’t know how that’s possible, I have a hard time trying to go out on the odd weekend. But I did manage to enjoy five days of the festivities while actually staying out past 10pm (big deal for me) for three of those nights. The biggest night we celebrated two of our friends’ birthdays and stayed at their place in Ghent, then the next morning went out for a boat ride through the canals. It was fun, although I gotta say the Belgians listen to some really weird music. I had a hard time finding any decent rock and roll, it was mostly electronic, pop, and a lot of typical Belgian folk music. Then whatever some of that strange stuff was classified as.
Our next festival we only went to because we got press passes for it, thanks to my high school photography teacher who got me in touch with a friend of his. Tomorrowland is one of the biggest EDM festivals in the world, and it’s not my music at all. Despite that, it’s a crazy experience to go there. Every year they set up some sort of whimsical wonderland themed stages, this year the theme was Planexis, all about underwater sea snails and other creatures.
People generally came dressed up either according to the theme, in various onsies or costumes, wearing as much glitter and as little clothing as possible (easy with the 40 degree heat), or the odd normal person wearing shorts and a tshirt. Flags are often used as capes and you can see there are people from all over the world, it’s really quite a united place.
My job was to photograph everything that was going on and whichever DJ performances I chose. I was told I needed a journalist, so Harry took on the role of writing an article about it in the end. We spent three days observing the bizarre world of Planexis and stayed with Harry’s wonderfully adventurous aunt during the nights. She was nice enough to pick us up at night, but thankfully we didn’t end too late anyway (midnight or 1 AM).
I am super glad I got to experience Tomorrowland once, but I know I would never do it again (unless I was working a second time). The price is insanely high and the music isn’t something I fancy. The setup and crazy people are spectacles that are cool to say you’ve seen once, but once is probably enough.
Finally we went to Pukkelpop. This festival we paid for because all of Harry’s closest friends were going. I went mostly for that reason, I was a sheep (an expensive sheep at that), but I did get to see a few people I enjoyed.
Pukkelpop has a very mixed variety of music genres, but I would say it’s a bit heavily centred on EDM. The bands that I liked were Arcade Fire and Walk off the Earth, who I’ve seen before but it was nice to see again, SYML, who was amazing, Kodaline, who were also really good, and I discovered the Wombats.
We spent the nights camping on the festival grounds and ate fries I think daily, because they were the cheapest food we could afford at the inflated prices. We also packed a lot of healthy food (muesli, carrots, wraps with veggies and avocado) but since we had to lug our bags from 20 minutes away, we couldn’t pack too much.
We had a great time together overall, but I think this is another festival I wouldn’t pay for again unless I knew there was going to be a great line up. I had the opportunity to go to another festival, Rock Werchter, and ended up in Italy during it so didn’t go. Maybe I will check that one out next time I’m in Belgium.
So those were the main exciting things that happened in Belgium this summer. Harry and I were sad to say goodbye to his friends and parents, but we will be there again in a couple of years. So until then, Belgian folks.