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 2020! Events will be added as they are being announced, so come back later for more news!!
All year (Concertgebouw)
Concertgebouw Circuit: You can visit the Concertgebouw and its (sound) art collection from Wednesdays to Sundays via the 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)
September 7th, 2019 – March 1st, 2020 (Arentshuis)
Exhibition 150 years city theatre: The theatre first opened its doors on September 30th, 1869 and has made quite an evolution since then. To build this theater a whole neighbourhoud of medieval houses had to be demolished, and streets widened. Six architects worked on the plans for this building. (entrance free of charge)
December 5th – January 26th, 2020 (Poortersloge) (Exhibition)
Exhibition ‘Groetjes uit Molenbeek’: Greetings from Molenbeek offers a layered insight into the visual work of Needcompany, the company which is curating the contemporary dance festival December Dance in 2019. Needcompany was founded by Jan Lauwers and Grace Ellen Barkey in 1986. The artist Maarten Seghers joined Needcompany in 2001. The group exhibition features a selection of their recent paintings, installations, sounds, videos and objects. (Tuesday to Sunday 13:00 – 18:00, entry free of charge)
January 18th, 2020 10 AM – 6 PM (Start City Theatre and Central market square and troughout the centre)
Costumés de Venise: Costumés de Venise – an international group of 35 men and women dressed in magnificent costumes – spend a whole day in Bruges, steeping the city in the atmosphere of Baroque Venice.
January 15 to 19th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
Bach Academy: In this years tenth Bach festival everything revolves around Bach’s private life and on that of his family. A memorable occasion, made even more unforgettable because in 2020 we will be feting our guest of honour Philippe Herreweghe, whose Collegium Vocale Gent is celebrating its 50th birthday.
February 1 and 2, 2020 (Zand) (beer festival)
13th Bruges Beer Festival: Here you can taste more than 300 different kinds of beer from over 70 different brewers! A great event for all beer lovers and affecionados. This is one of the few, if not only, festivals in the world where all seven Belgian & Dutch Trappist beers are available, including the elusive Westvleteren. New beers are launched at the festival each year so there is always something to delight the returning visitor. (acces is free, you buy tokens for beer samples of 15 cl)
February 1st – 29th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
Têtes-à-têtes: For a whole month, we are banning overwhelming orchestras and magisterial Baroque to make room for the more intimate. Goethe once defined the string quartet as ‘four rational gentlemen conversing with each other’. Fortunately, they no longer have to be men, but the spirit of his law still applies: for chamber music, you gather together. Personal contact with musicians and fellow audience members gives the listening experience an extra dimension. Four thematic lines bring order to 17 multi-coloured concerts: Beethoven XS, International Quartets, Musical Gifts and Roots.
March 6th till May 3rd, 2020 (Poortersloge) (exhibition)
Scales of Water – WORKac: In the margin of the 150th anniversary of the Koninklijke Stadsschouwburg (Royal City Theatre), the American architects of WORKac will bring their “Scales of Water” exhibition to the Poortersloge. In the exhibition, WORKac focuses on its own projects and such key concepts as sustainability and circular architecture, urban farming, zero emission buildings and zero waste. The practical application of water, the use and re-use by users/occupants plays an instrumental role in this. In addition to its own projects, WORKac will also examine the Floating Cities of the legendary American architects Ant Farm. Open from tuesday to sunday from 13.00 to 18.00h, Entrance Free of charge.
March 7th – April 7th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
Joseph Ryelandt’s 150th: Bruges composer Joseph Ryelandt was born 150 years ago. And that anniversary is not passing unnoticed in Bruges’s cultural centres. During his lifetime, Ryelandt’s music was popular both in Belgium and abroad and nowadays he is rated as one of the leading composers of the Belgian fin de siècle. His connection with Bruges could hardly be more intimate: he was born here, he lived here, he was Director of the Bruges Conservatory, he died here and he is buried here. Almost his entire oeuvre is owned by the City of Bruges. We even have a street and a concert hall that bear his name. 2020 will be the year in which the people of Bruges really get to know their homegrown composer.
March 12th – July 12th, 2020 (Groeninge museum) (exhibition)
Jan Van Eyck in Bruges: This exhibition is devoted to two masterpieces by the Burgundian court painter from Bruges: ‘Madonna with Canon Joris Van der Paele’ and ‘Portrait of his wife Margaretha van Eyck’. This exhibition will familiarise you with Jan van Eyck’s Bruges period and uses authentic documents to demonstrate what kind of lifestyle the artist led in Bruges and where he lived. Technical research shows how the painter went about planning his paintings and how he occasionally made radical changes during the creative process. The exhibition also focuses on Joris van der Paele who had an impressive career at the Roman Curia during an extremely turbulent period. Tuesday – Sunday: 09:30 – 17:00
March 19th – October 4th, 2020 (Arentshuis) (exhibition)
Joseph Ryelandt at home. A portrait of a Bruges composer: 7 April 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the composer Joseph Ryelandt. He was born, worked and died in Bruges, but his music has a resonance far beyond our narrow city limits. Today, he is regarded as one of the most important composers of the Belgian fin-de-siècle. Tuesday – Sunday: 09:30 – 17:00
April 4th – September 6th, 2020 (Saint Johsnhospital) (exhibition)
Memling Now: Hans Memling in contemporary art: This exhibition focusses on the paintings of Hans Memling, one of the most significant painters of the Burgundian Bruges genre. He painted no less than four paintings for the medieval Sint-Janshospitaal. These are considered to be masterpieces amongst the artwork of the Flemish primitives. The world-renowned Ursula Shrine is also one of his works. Tuesday – Sunday: 09:30 – 17:00
April 10th – April 11th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
Too many keys, Minimal piano music: Six pianos – 528 keys – take us to unprecedented musical heights. On Friday we glide from the cult works of American pioneers Steve Reich and Philip Glass, over the misunderstood genius Julius Eastman, to the work of Kate Moore, a pupil of ‘polder minimalist’ Louis Andriessen. On the second day of the festival, we visit French composer Erik Satie, who grew from a forgotten eccentric into an enigmatic cult hero. Nobody managed to master his mythically bare notes until Reinbert de Leeuw came along. Two synthesizer masters, Alessandro Cortini and David Martijn – both inspired by his ‘fewer notes, more expressiveness’ – further immerse us in a musical trance.
Saturday afternoon April 25th and Sunday April 26th, 2019 (city centre)
Erfgoeddag – Heritage day: Yearly recurring event, where you can visit monuments and historical sites organized around a theme. This year the theme is ‘Night’. (free of charge)
May 1st, November 30th, 2020 (Old Saint-Johnshospital) (exhibition)
Terracotta army of emperor Qin: exhibition: An impressive exhibition of the terracotta army of the first emperor of China – one of the world’s most important archaeological discoveries! The exhibition at Site Oud Sint-Jan shows 70 full size replica figures, including various ranks of warriors, impressive chariots and horses. In addition, the exhibition also shows traditional Chinese art, old clothing, centuries-old coins, a documentary and photographic report
May 1st – May 24th, 2020 (Zand) (fair)
Yearly May-fair: the largest funfair in the region. Bruges annual spring-time fair, dating back to 1200, is held after Easter with a month of festivities involving costumed parades, fun fairs and fireworks. Great for kids!
Thursday, May 21st, 2020 (city centre) (procession)
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 4th to June 7th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
Budapest festival: The many sides of Iván Fischer. This brilliant conductor of the Budapest Festival Orchestra is also a father: perhaps that is partly why he composed music to accompany a children’s book. He is also an activist: thanks to his deep-rooted commitment, he regularly speaks out against social and political injustice. He is a career booster: via the Budapest Festival Orchestra, he helps to introduce new faces to classical music.
Mid June to Mid September 2020 (inner courtyard Belfry)
Carillon concerts: The carillon is played every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 12 pm. During the summer there are concerts on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m.. These summer concerts attract a lot of listeners to the inner courtyard of the Belfry. The opening and final concerts start at 20.00 p.m
June 27th, 2019 (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)
June, 2020 (Astridpark)
Signaal : A free summer radio festival in one of the beautiful city parks smack in the centre of Bruges, with the following ingredients: talks and workshops on making radio, live music, after-parties and dj-sets in the evening. There is a park restaurant, a pop-up terrace where you can order cocktails and lots of cosy summer vibes.
July 3rd, 4th and 5th, 2020 (Castle of Loppem – Zedelgem) (Music festival)
Vegamping : During this extraordinary experience you will be immersed in an idyllic setting: the gardens and the park of castle of Loppem. Are you a festival enthusiast? Just pitch your tent and enjoy the festival atmosphere. With a phenomenal line-up of (international) vegan (minded) artists and renowned speakers.
July – August, 2020 (different cafés and pubs in the city centre)
Klinkende kroegen: Every wednesday evening there are three free concerts in different pubs in the city centre, between 6 PM and midnight.
Fridays in July and August 2019 (Vismarkt)
Summer at the fishmarket: Every Friday you can drink and eat something from 4 PM to 10 PM with some live musical animation.
Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays in July and August
Dancing on the Fishmarket: folklore dance on Thursdays, Salsa on Saturdays and Tango on Sundays between 6 PM and 10 PM, everyone can join. (free entrance)
July , August and September, 2020 (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) (dates follow later)
July 10th, 11th and 12th, 2020 (Minnewater park) (outdoor music festival)
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.
July 4th, 2020 (Burg)
Taptoe: an evening with international fanfare, brass bands and pipe bands starting at 8:30 PM on the Burg, tickets: 10 euro standing places, 40 euro for numbered seat. The carillon also takes part.
July 10th, 2020 (Burg)
Flemish national day: On July 11th the Flemish part of Belgian celebrates its national day. On the eve of July 11th there is a free concert on the Burg. Starts at 8:45 PM.
July 11th, 2020 (Burg)
Burgrock: Free festival that celebrated its 15th birthday in 2019. Free concerts starting at 3:30 Pm on the Burg. Young bands compete to win the Rock Rally trophee.
July 24th – 26th, 2020 (Grootseminarie Brugge)
Cirque Plus: Free Circus festival hosting national and international circus artists. You will find lots of humor, acrobats, large emotions and a cosy summer terrace with lots of summer vibes. Great to visit with kids!
July 21st, 2020 (Markt)
Brugge trippeldagen: On July 21st Belgium celebrates it national holiday. (program follows later)
End of July – beginning of August, 2020 (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) (program and dates follow later)
July 31st – August 9th, 2020 (Concertgebouw) (music festival)
MA-Festival: Musica Antiqua Bruges is a festival of ancient music and historically informed performances. The program includes concerts, master classes, conferences, visits in the region, exhibitions, instrument market, and international competitions that concentrates in a three-year cycle on organ, harpsichord, pianoforte and other period instruments, vocals, and baroque ensembles. (program follows later)
August 7th – 9th, 2020 ( beach Zeebrugge) (music festival)
We Can Dance: Electronic Beach Festival, International musical talent on 5 stages and one livestage. Total of six stages exploring hip hop, techno, house & disco, all-round, slow dance and live music. (theme and line-up follows later)
Saturday, August 15th, 2020 (city centre)
Benenwerk: On one Saturday evening in August, the city centre becomes one large ballroom, with several styles of music on different squares and parks of Bruges. You can choose between a disco stage, a clubbing stage, latino stage, folkbal stage, modern, tango, tripping, dance…. Impossible not to move on this open air music event!
August 9th, 2020
Vélo Baroque: a bicycle route from Bruges to Lissewege with open air classical music concerts along the way. (exact program with locations follows later)
August 15th, 2020 (start at the Church of the Blindekens, end at the church of the Potterie)
Brugse Belofte or the Procession of the Blindekens: A historical and religious procession that takes place in Bruges since 1304, when the citizens of Bruges made a promise to carry a 36 pound candle in procession to Our Lady of the Potterie. Our Lady of blindekens is carried in procession and more than 200 citizens evoke historical scenes like the war on the Pevelenberg against the French in 1304.
August 21st- 22th, 2020 (beach Zeebrugge) (music festival)
Bomboclat: Tropical Afrobeats and Dancehallfestival. With a kidsvillage where children are looked after by professional entertainers.
August 22nd and 23rd, 2020 (Halls of the Belfry) (fair)
International Doll and Teddy-bear fair. A mix of extraordinarily artfully made dolls and teddy bears in combination with beautiful antique
and old dolls and Reborn dolls will be offered for sale. The old dolls in combination with contemporary dolls, teddy bears and other plusche animals provide an incredibly fun and interesting variation.
Opening hours: Saturday 22 August from 10 am to 5 pm Sunday 23 August from 11 am to 4 pm.
September 12th – 13th, 2020 (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 22nd, 2020 (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… From 11 AM till 9 PM.
September 26th – 28th, 2019 (Grootseminarie)
Kook-eet: Foodfestival where more than 30 topchefs serve gastronomy at its best.
October 1st 2020 – Febuary 1st, 2021 (Saint-Johnshospital) (exhibition)
Heaven in a nutshell. Art and devotion in the age of Burgundy: This exhibition sheds light on a collection of very exclusive devotional items. The objects on display were created for prosperous clients during the Burgundian period, between 1400 and 1525. The distribution of religious books and the popularity of devotion to the rosary during the 15th century contributed to an increase in piety in the Burgundian Netherlands. There was also an increased demand for items which could be used for personal prayer and meditation. This led to the fabrication of exclusive devotional items for the nobility and clergy, including some very beautiful miniature objects notable for their use of precious materials and tiny size as well as the astonishing technical skill demonstrated by their creators. The exhibition focusses not only on the beauty of these objects, but also on their function and uses. It was not merely a matter of worshipping a saint or witnessing a scene from the Bible; the action itself – opening or moving the object – could lead to inner reflection and meditation. Tuesday – Sunday: 09:30 – 17:00
October, 2020 (Concertgebouw)
Iedereen klassiek: Everyone classic: A veritable feast of classical music. The Concertgebouw is putting together a lavish celebration, with offshoots all over the inner city. As always, we warm up with Crazy about Bach and close with the wonderful Brussels Philharmonic, this time performing some well-known classics. (entrance free program follows later)
November 2020 – January 2021 (Central market square and Simon Stevinplein)
Christmas and winter market: 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. You can also enjoy the unique light displays on the Markt.
November 2020 – January 2021 (Minnewater – Lake of Love)
Artificial Skating Rink and Winter Bar: the enchanting Minnewater will be transformed with an environmentally-friendly artificial skating rink on the water and a winter bar with terrace covering nearly 300m². Young and old alike can skate to their heart’s content on the Minnewater (Lake of Love), on a unique sustainable rink made of synthetic ice. There’s a cosy Winter Bar nearby, with a delicious selection of local winter snacks and drinks.
December 2020 (Balstraat)
Midwinterfeest (Midwinterfestival): A traditional Christmas market with traditional products around the Folklore museum, the Lace Centre and the Adornes Domain with the Jeruzalemchurch as backdrop. You can warm up in the Folklore Museum with its inviting museum café. On the other side of the street, the Lace Museum and the Adornesdomain will open their doors. (dates and program follow later)
December 2020 (Concertgebouw)
December Dance: International Dance Festival: Every year another curator chooses international dance performances resulting in an exciting program featuring mostly modern dance. (dates and program follow later)
December 2020 (Old Saint-Johnshospital and Mariastraat)
Procession of the Christmas star: Folklore procession proceeding through the festive streets of Bruges. The Christmas Story is depicted in a folkloristic, yet atmospheric, procession. During the parade you can make a small contribution to a local charity. Start (2.30 p.m.) and finish : Oud Sint-Jan, Mariastraat, Brugge (dates and program follow later)
December 31st, 2020, 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 or light show at midnight.
Every Wednesday evening in July and August 2020
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)
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) Check their website because the place changed owners in february 2019!
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.