Belgium, country of festivals

There are many different reasons to travel. Perhaps you want to go for adventure, get lost in a foreign country, maybe you want to immerse yourself in another culture, for some people it’s all about the food. And others, they just go to party.

Belgium has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to that: festivals. Belgium has a lot of them, among them the one voted “Best Music Event Worldwide” a few times in a row by the IDMA (International Dance Music Awards) in Miami, as well as “Best Major European Festival”. You may recognize the name Tomorrowland. This festival alone was so popular it attracted people from litterally all over the world. It became so big that a spin-off festival has been created, Tomorrowworld. It even has it’s own party flights to fly people in. Aside from that, many great DJ’s and bands have Belgian roots.

dimitry vegas and like mike tomorrowland anthem time with million of people cheering hd wallpaper night

A shot of Tomorrowland at night

But it’s not all dance music. There are techno, electro, folk, metal, reggae, world music, jazz and other types of festivals. Some are big, some are small. Some of the bigger names are: Graspop, Rock Werchter, 10 Days Off, Gentse Feesten, Tomorrowland, Reggae Geel, Pukkelpop, Laundry Day and I Love Techno .

Pretty clear what kind of festival Graspop is

People come from all over the world for the chill out vibes of Reggae Geel

People come from all over the world for the chill out vibes of Reggae Geel

Gent Jazz

Gent Jazz

Here’s a list of festivals you can find in Belgium. This list will always be incomplete as there are many smaller festivals that come and go. The links are pointing to the English versions of the websites if available:

A bunch of festivals can also be found on this map. Click the locations for more info:

So, if you’re in Belgium around summer time, there’s always a festival to go to. Leave a comment if you are missing a festival in the list and I’ll update it. Enjoy! 🙂

Belgium, you got balls

Atomium_by_day

The previous post dealt with the Eiffel Tower which was built for the world fair of 1889. Today, we’re having a look at another world fair construction. This time it’s the 1958 fair, and as you can see from the picture, the building is the Atomium.

The name has been derived from the model it was built after, the iron atom. The amount of spheres doesn’t match the iron element’s number of electrons or anything. The similarity is based on the whole form of the structure which resembles a pure iron crystal at room temperature, magnified 165 billion times.

Again, if you are interested in the numbers, you can find those on line. But you should know that the 9 pheres were used to symbolize the 9 provinces Belgium had at the time (that changed to 10 provinces in 1995).

Originally, the building was constucted out of aluminium, which was a relatively new material to use at the time. During a long restauration period from 2004-2006, the aluminium was replaced with rust free steel as it handles corrosion better. To help out with the costs, the replaced aluminium panels were sold. A 2 meter triangular piece sold for about €1.000. Lights were present in the original design, but they broke rather quickly. So during the restauration better lights were put on so that in the evening the structure is lit up nicely for the next 150 years. At least that’s how long they estimate the lights to last. There are 4 support colums (called bipodes) present that were not in the original design. They were added when wind tunnel tests pointed out that the thing would fall over at wind gusts at about 80km/h (50mp/h).

The reason the structure is still standing is due to the fact that by the end of the world fair it had become so famous and popular, they decided to keep it. The original idea was that it would be dismantled after no longer than 6 months.

But it’s still there! And it’s still famous. Famous enough for CNN to award it as one of the 11 most bizarre buildings in Europe.

Good news for those who want to get in and up. You can! The 3 most outer spheres are closed off from the public for safety because they don’t have any direct support. You can take an elevator to the top sphere (at 5 meters per second!) to have a good view over Brussels and something to eat, as a restaurant is located there. For some more food you can go to the central sphere to find a snack bar. There is a “children’s” sphere, which is only accessible to groups on school outings and the children can sleep in this sphere. The other accessible spheres hold permanent or temporary expositions.

Atomium in the evening (picture from structurae.de)

Should you be around, do have a look. It’s worth a few minutes of your time. And while you’re at it, make it to the top sphere to take in the panaromic view!

Have a look over here for more pictures of what you can expect to see when you get there 🙂