Every two years in August, Brussels welcomes visitors by rolling out the red carpet. Except this carpet isn’t only red, it’s made from an array of brightly colored flowers that covers the Grand Place’s entire court, a baroque and gothic square. And if this weren’t enough reason to visit this historical city, hotels also offer inviting packages and lower prices over the weekends. The city celebrates many other events as well, including a marathon and free concerts. So, if you’re traveling through Europe and need a weekend escape, or you’re simply searching for a foreign excursion, Brussels may be the perfect destination in August.
Why Brussels in August?
Although its role as the seat of the European Union keeps Brussels busy throughout much of the year, sessions pause in July and August. Visitors can take advantage of this break by enjoying lower prices resulting from a decrease in demand, while the city springs into action with festivals and events. Brussels also enjoys fairly warm temperatures and bright sunny days, with occasional showers.
One of the biggest events in August, the Brussels Flower Carpet, happens only once every two years. This year, the event will take place from August 11 through 15, during which time more than 700,000 begonias will create a kaleidoscope of color inspired by the Middle Ages, and pieces of the display will actually spin. A sound and light show will accompany the evening opening ceremonies on August 11, officially starting the festivities. The floral fresco can be seen from the surrounding courtyard and taverns for free, but best views from the Town Hall balcony will cost €3 (see XE.com for current exchange rates) for each adult.
For other free events in the city, visit from August 11 through 20, during the Eu’Ritmix Summer Festival, when Brussels’ local talent will perform for free. More than 120 shows, including music concerts, comedy acts, children’s programs, and street performances will take place all over the city.
Every year, Brussels chooses a theme to highlight the strengths of the city, and this year it is decked out in its finest threads to celebrate Fashion and Design. On August 17, the Big Fashion Parade/Show is staged at the Grand Place, during the summer festival, and is free to the public. Other exhibits and shows are scheduled all over the city and many are free.
On August 27, crowds will cheer runners to the finish line for the ING Brussels Marathon. Contestants start the race at the Parc du Cinquantenaire, running nearly 43 kilometers (26.2 miles) before finishing at the Grand Place. It costs €30 to register to run, but is free for onlookers.
Many other events and exhibits take place in August, so keep an eye out for the specific date you’re traveling.
Brussels August Savings
While many popular destinations raise their prices when summer hits, Brussels hotels actually offer discounts and package deals. For instance, the Atlas Hotel offers a range of package options, including beer-themed extras and sightseeing tours. For €99 per night, guests can enjoy the Must of Brussels package, which includes a two-night stay, two booklets with 10 vouchers to some of the city’s top attractions, full breakfast, a map, and a bottle of wine upon arrival.
Packages are also available during some of the major festivals. The Hotel Amigo helps visitors celebrate the Flower Carpet by offering one night’s stay, full breakfast buffet, complimentary entry to the Town Hall, a welcome gift, floral body lotion, and fresh flowers for €238 for two people.
Contrary to almost any destination, weekends are also actually cheaper in Brussels than on weekdays, and many hotels also offer special rates and packages for weekend visitors. The Warwick Barsey Hotel offers a “Discover Brussels” package, which includes one night’s stay in a superior room, a welcome glass of Champagne, and a Brussels Card (see below) with a map for €156, only available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.
Brussels offers many other ways to save year-round that visitors can take advantage of in August. For instance, the Brussels Card allows you to tour 30 museums, use public transportation, and receive discounts for a one-time fee of €30 for a three-day pass. The card also includes a guide, which will provide valuable information on attractions and navigating the city.
After visiting the major museums, remember the city also has many other interesting attractions to see, including the Museum of Belgian Brewers and the Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate. Even if the festivals are amazing and the prices are unbeatable, we all know the real reason you visit Brussels.
For further information when planning a trip to Brussels, go to the Brussels Tourist and Convention Bureau’s website.