As a tourist it can be very gratifying to take part in cultural or other events in the city you visit. Bruges has many great cultural events throughout the year, that are primarily organised for locals but can also accommodate or interest visiting tourists. Theatre can be difficult because not everyone speaks Dutch. But concerts, flea markets or sport events are not limited by language barriers. For some events you might need to buy tickets and knowing about it in advance can help avoid disappointments when the event sells out. Knowing the correct dates helps tourists to plan certain events into their trip to Bruges. So here comes a list with all events in Bruges for the year 2018!
Events, concerts, performances, film and exhibitions
Starting from September 17th 2017 (Concertgebouw)
Concertgebouw Circuit: You will be able to visit the Concertgebouw and its (sound) art collection from Wednesdays to Sundays via a brand new Visitors’ Trail, with surprising additions, such as a huge sound model of the building and a musical postcard. (8 euro for adults, 4 euro for under 26 years old)
October 13th, 2017 – January 21st, 2018 (Groeningemuseum – closed on Monday)
Exhibition Pieter Pourbus and the Claeissens family: Economic recession, a stagnating textile market and the departure of international merchants from the city: this is the picture of Bruges during the second half of the sixteenth century. This exposition focuses on the search for new patrons by these artists and on the marketing choices they were forced to make.
October 20th, 2017 – February 25th, 2018 (Sint-Janshospitaal-museum-closed on Monday)
Exhibition William Kentridge. Smoke, Ashes, Fable: Since his international debut at dOCUMENTA X in 1997, South African artist William Kentridge has achieved worldwide renown. This major exhibition presents a unique selection of Kentridge’s work curated for Sint-Janshospitaal in Bruges—at 850 years one of Europe’s oldest surviving hospital buildings.
November 24th 2017 – January 2nd 2018 (Central market square)
Christmas market and ice-skating rink: the historic city centre of Bruges will be transformed into a giant Christmas market. In addition to a wonderful atmosphere and plenty of seasonal jollity, you will also be able to find that unusual last-minute present for someone special. In addition you can enjoy the ice rink.
November 25th, 2017 – January 7th, 2018 (Square in front of the Central Train Station)
The Ice Sculpture Festival: celebrates the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland® Paris. With just ice and water, artists from around the world create a fantasy world full of magic, starring the most-loved heroes of Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.
December 31st, 2017, 10:45 PM to 1 AM (Het Zand)
New Years Eve – Bruges sings: Bruges welcomes the new year with a songfest featuring the most popular hits of recent years. Followed by fireworks at midnight.
January 13 and 14, 2018 10 AM – 6 PM (Central market square)
Costumés de Venise: Costumés de Venise – an international group of 50 men and women dressed in magnificent costumes – are due to spend two whole days in Bruges, steeping the city in the atmosphere of Baroque Venice.
January 24 to 28, 2018 (Concertgebouw)
Bach Academy: In this eighth Bach Academy Bruges, nothing is what it seems. Listen to how Bach edits and rearranges music by himself and by others, and how adventurous musicians have drawn inspiration from the Thomas Cantor’s heritage. A surprising five-day Bach rearrangement!
January 26 to 27, 2018 (Burg) (7 PM – 10:30 PM) (The Burg)
Winter Sparks – Wintervonken: A evening winter festival with fire installations, street-theatre and music. (Free entry)
April 4th – April 8th, 2018 (Concertgebouw)
More Music: The festival invites national and international artists who are at the forefront of the latest musical trends, innovators who come in all shapes and sizes: from singer-songwriters and spoken-word performers to electronics trailblazers and challenging multimedia projects.
April 17th to 29th, 2018 (Lumière cinema)
Mooov festival: Film festival where films are shown with artistic content in a broad social context. Shows films from all over the world in a yearly changing theme.
April 20th to May 30th, 2018 (’t Zand)
Meifoor – May fun fair: Yearly city fair with loads of attractions for all ages.
Saturday afternoon April 21st and Sunday April 22nd, 2018 (city centre)
Erfgoeddag – Heritage day : Yearly recurring event, where you can visit monuments and historical sites organized around a theme. (free of charge)
April 27 and 28, 2018 (Concertgebouw)
Opera 21 – Music theatre festival: Opera 21 lets you feel the pulse of the latest music theatre. From opera to hybrid scenic experiments, installations, performances and visual concerts.
May 5th – September 16th 2018 (city centre)
Triënnale Brugge 2018: Liquid City – Vloeibare Stad: Contemporary art and architecture trail in the historic centre of Bruges. The Triënnale brings to Bruges a selection of inspirational and celebrated artists and architects from home and abroad who form a trail through the city with installations, videos, images and other media. Here a link to my blog about the Triënnale in Bruges in 2016.
May 7th to 13th, 2018 (Concertgebouw)
Gold: A new festival for Bruges – city of music and stories – that interconnects the best of Bruges’s Golden Age: its fascinating history, its architectural heritage, its art treasures and above all its music, which for centuries set the tone from Scandinavia to the tip of Italy, from Britain to Poland. This first edition of the festival, programmed to coincide with the annual Procession of the Holy Blood, tells the story of a Bruges fur trader and the city official Donaas de Moor, the man commemorated by Jacob Obrecht’s remarkable Missa de Sancto Donatiano.
Thursday, May 10th, 2018 (city centre)
The Procession of the Holy Blood: The Procession of the Holy Blood takes place on Ascension Day every year. The biblical and historic evocation is well known as the religious procession which originated as a purely religious expression at the end of the thirteenth century. It has formed part of the city of Bruges’ rich history since that time. The Procession of the Holy Blood is included on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. (free event, you only have to pay for a seat on the tribune at the Central square)
June 30th, 2018 (Minnewater park)
Feest in ’t park, Festival in the park: A small scale music festival organized by NGO’ s working in aid and development, and promoting solidarity, human rights, fair trade and world peace. The different organisations promote their activities and projects. Lots of activities for children. (free entrance)
July first, August 5th and September 23rd, 2018 (on and around Het Zand)
The Zandfeesten: The largest open air antique and flea market in Belgium, organised every year in the summer on three sundays, from dusk till dawn. The Zandfeesten attract hundreds of vendors, and thousand of bargain-hunters from far and wide. (free entrance)
First week of July (Astridpark)
Vama Veche: A yearly free summer festival in one of the beautiful city parks smack in the centre of Bruges, with the following ingredients: activities for children in the afternoon, live music and performances in the evening. There is a park restaurant, dj sets, a pop-up terrace where you can order cocktails and lots of cosy summer vibes.
July and August 2018
Summer at the fishmarket: Every Friday you can drink and eat something from 4 PM to 10 PM with some musical animation. You can join in for folk dance on Thursdays, salsa on Saturdays and tango on Sundays from 6 PM to 10 PM.
July 13th, 14th and 15th, 2018 (Minnewater park)
Cactusfestival: An outdoor music festival in the cosy Minnewater park. It is one of the smaller scale music festival in this festival craze country Belgium. The festival also attracts families with children since it is very child friendly. The atmosphere is very relaxed. (exact program follows later)
July 20th, 21st and 22nd, 2018 (Grootseminarie Brugge)
Cirque Plus: Free Circus festival hosting national and international circus artists. You will find lots of humour, acrobats, large emotions and a cosy summer terrace with lots of summer vibes. Great to visit with kids! (exact program follows later)
Last week of July and first week of August, 2018 (city centre)
Moods: Summer music festival in the historic centre of Bruges. On 8 concertnights it brings music from different corners of the world. (some concerts are free, for others you need to buy an entrance ticket) (exact program with dates and locations follows later)
August 3rd till 12th, 2018 (Concertgebouw)
MAfestival: Festival Musica Antiqua Bruges: A festival for ancient music and historically informed performances that started in 1960. The program includes concerts, master classes, conferences, visits in the region, exhibitions, instrument market and international competitions that concentrate in a three-year cycle on organ, harpsichord, pianoforte and other period instruments, vocals, and baroque ensembles.
August 11th, 2018 (city centre on different locations)
Benenwerk – Ballroom Brugeoise: Different indoor and open-air ballrooms in the centre of Bruges, with different music and dance styles: from salsa over tango, break dance, swing, boogie, musette, jive, folk, charleston or modern dance. (free entrance) (exact program with locations follows later)
August 12th, 2018
Vélo Baroque: a bycicle route from Bruges to Lissewege with open air classical music concerts along the way. (exact program with locations follows later)
August 15th to 19th, 2018 (Lace centre)
Kantdagen – Lace days: lots of activities around traditional lace making in Bruges. (program with dates and locations follows later)
Sunday September 9th, 2018 (city centre)
Open Monumentendag – Heritage day Flanders: Yearly recurring event, in which cities and towns open their monuments. Hundreds of heritage sites throughout Flanders are open to visitors, free of charge, on the 2nd Sunday in September. (free of charge) (program follows later)
Sunday September 16th, 2018 (city centre)
Carfree day: Yearly day when cars are banned from most city centres in Belgium. Bruges organises lots of activities in the centre for pedestrian and bikers, music and theatre in the streets, flea markets, activities for children…
September 29th to October first, 2018 (square behind the train station)
Kook-eet: Foodfestival where more than 30 topchefs serve gastronomy at its best.
December 2018 (Concertgebouw)
December Dance: International Dance Festival: Every year another curator chooses international dance groups to bring together in an exciting program featuring mostly modern dance. (program follows later)
Every Wednesday evening in July and August 2018
Klinkende Kroegen – Free live music performances in three bars every Wednesday from 8 PM to midnight (free entrance) (program with dates and locations follows later)
Nothin’ but the blues – live blues performances in different bars in the centre of Bruges. (program with dates and locations follows later)
27B Flat: Jazz bar. Deep in the tourist heart of Bruges lies hidden 27Bflat: a jazz & blues club where music and cosiness take centre stage with weekly live performances, jam sessions… from well-established artists to up-and-coming musical talent.
Every 3rd Monday of the month – 8 PM (doors open 7 PM)
Monthly blues jam – Location: Café Comptoir des Arts. Long Tall Danny and a starting band invite several guest musicians – starters and more experienced – and give the audience some hours of live blues.
Sunday evenings – 9PM
Bistro Zwart huis: Monthly live performances on Sunday evenings (small entrance fee)
Sunday evenings – 8PM to 10:30 PM
Wijnbar Est – Winebar Est: Live music on Sunday evenings, free entrance, different styles: jazz – blues – boogie – folk – pop.
Every Wednesday morning on the central square and The Burg and every Saturday morning on ’t Zand or Beursplein and surrounding streets. (8 AM to 1:30 PM)
Weekly fresh food and flower market, on Saturday you can also find clothes and utensils.
Every Saturday, Sunday and holiday from March 15th to November 15th, and every Friday from June to September on De Dijver (in front of the Groeningemuseum) and on the Fishmarket – 10 AM to 6 PM
Antique and flea market – Folklore market
Every week from Wednesday to Saturday from 8 AM to 1:30 PM on the Fishmarket on the Fishmarket: fresh fish and seafood.