Summer isn’t really summer without a decent festival and as festival season is now in full swing I thought it was about time I joined in to lap up the music, sunshine, atmosphere and general all round fun.
With more than 280 festivals, 16,500km² of festival ground, the biggest bands, the most original sceneries and some of the world’s best festivals, Flanders, in Belgium, is claiming some serious high accolades in calling itself the the ultimate festival destination. So following a generous invitation by Flanders is a Festival I thought it was time I swapped my heels for rain boots and a good waterproof jacket and put its festival organisation skills and music prowess to the test.
With a three day program of hip hop, soul, funk, word, reggae, dub, dancehall & latin – Couleur Café in Brussels was the festival for me. Held annually at the end of June some extra juicy ingredients brighten up this unique festival: a designers souk market, handmade decorations everywhere, free dance classes throughout the festival, over 50 world food stalls and serious amounts of groovin.
Quite different from just your usual array of great bands and artists, the festival also hosts a huge art exhibition over the three days called ‘Cool Art Café’ and local and international NGOs create what is known as the Solidarity Village informing & involving festival goers about a hot North/South topics and pressing global issues. Couleur Café also takes the issue of environment and thus recycling seriously by doing things like exchanging old cups for free beer, providing free public transportation to and from the event and a great choice of reasonably priced organic vegetarian food.
I really loved the diversity of people at the festival and how open and friendly everyone was (not to mention stylish); a great mixture of nationalities, ages and also large numbers of children made for a great atmosphere for the 3 day festival. But not only stylish and relaxed, having been long used to British festival prices I was seriously surprised how reasonably priced tickets for the festival were meaning that anyone can enjoy the good vibes, sunshine and great live music without having to save up the whole year.
Starting each day at 3pm I managed to catch some great artists from all over the world like Buena Vista Social Club, Jessie J, De La Soul, Sean Paul, The Subs, Public Enemy, Gogol Bordello & Stephen Marley. The later start also meant I could spend the good part of my day visiting numerous cities in Flanders like Leuven and Antwerp (more to come on that) and also catching up on some well needed rest after all our dancing the nights before. The nights entertainment finished up at about 3am after an amazing firework and laser show before we headed back via the free night busses into the city.
What am I taking away from my weekend? Well there’s no doubt about it, Flanders is the ultimate festival destination! See you next year.
This post was written by Lorna Stokes, part of the travelettes team from 2009 to 2013.
Originally from the UK but currently based in Brussels after stints in Canada, Peru, Italy and a job for the French military, she’s always had an unquenchable thirst for exploring new places! She’s still travelling the world with her family so catch up with her adventures on Instagram & Twitter.