Belgian cuisine is similar to French and is based on game
and seafood. Each region in Belgium has its own speciality
dish. Butter, cream, beer and wine are generously used when
cooking. Belgian chocolate, waffles and chips
and often served with mayonnaise, are famous. Ardennes
sausages and ham are well known
and very popular.
Restaurants generally have waiter service, although self-service
cafes are becoming quite numerous. Restaurant bills include
drinks, unless they have been taken at the bar separately.
In the latter case these are settled over the counter. Tips
are also included in the final bill, although an additional
tip may be left at discretion.
The local beers are excellent. Two of the most popular are
Lambic, made from wheat and barley, and Trappist.
Fruit beers, such as Kriek cherry beer, are
a speciality. Under the new law, the majority of cafes now
have licences to serve spirits and beers and wines are freely
obtainable everywhere and there are no licensing hours.
As well as being one of the best cities in the world for eating
out both for its high quality and range, Brussels has a very
active and varied nightlife. It has ten theatres producing
plays in both Dutch and French.
These include the Théâtre National
and the Théâtre Royal des Galeries.
The more avant-garde theatres include the Théâtre
Cinq-Quarante and the Théâtre
de Poche. Brussels has at least 35 cinemas, numerous
discos and many night-time cafes and these are centred on
two main areas: the uptown Porte Louise area
and the downtown area between Place Roger
and Place de la Bourse.
Nightclubs include the famous Chez Paul, Le Crazy,
Le Grand Escalier and Maxim. Jazz
clubs include Bloomdido Jazz Cafe and The
Brussels Jazz Club.
Programmes and weekly listings of events can be found in the
BBB Agenda on sale at tourist offices and
this also covers information on the many festivals that take
place in Brussels itself. Tourism Brussels-Ardennes/Tourism
Flanders-Brussels should be consulted about folk
music or drama festivals elsewhere in Belgium – the
most famous of which is the Festival of Flanders
for classical music concerts. The other large cities of Belgium,
such as Antwerp, Kortrijk, Ghent, Leuven, Liège, Mons
and Namur, all have similar nightlife facilities.
Special purchases include ceramics and hand-beaten copperware
from Dinant, Belgian chocolates,
crystals from Val Saint Lambert, diamonds,
jewellery from Antwerp,
lace from Bruges, Brussels
and Mechelen (Malines), woodcarvings from
Spa and bandes dessinées
(comic-strip books) by a number of talented Belgian cartoon
artists from Brussels.
Main shopping centres
are located in Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels, Ghent, Liège,
Mechelen, Mons, Namur and Ostend.
Monday-Saturday 1000-1800/1900 hrs. Department stores
often remain open longer, up to 2100 hrs on Fridays. Outside
the main areas, some shops may close at lunchtime.
The following is a selection of special events occurring
in Belgium during 2005, for further information, contact Tourism
Brussels-Ardennes and Tourism Flanders-Brussels
(see Contacts section):
||50th Belgium Antiques
|February 6th -
||Carnaval de Binche, Hainaut.
|| Grand Feu de Bouge, spectacular
bonfire on the first Sunday of Lent, Namur
||Carnaval du Laetare, Stavelot.
||"Made in Belgium",
exposition celebrating 175 years of independence, Brussels.
||129th Cavalcade in Herve,
|May 7th Belgium
Gay Pride, Brussels
||"Belgium Gay Pride, Brussels
||Brussels Jazz Marathon/350th
Military March at Saint Roch, Thuin
||"Matrimonial High Tea,
|| Days of the 4 Processius,
||7th Napoleonic Bivouac at
Waterloo, yearly reconstruction of a Napoleonic bivouac
and the battle of Placenoit.
||European March of Memory &
Friendship, 30km march.
||Ommegang Pageant, Brussels.
|| European Christmas Markets,
Belgians will often prefer to answer visitors in English rather
than French, even if the visitor’s French is very good.
It is customary to bring flowers or a small present for the
hostess, especially if invited for a meal.
Dress is similar to other Western nations, depending on the
formality of the occasion. If black tie and evening dress
is to be worn, this is always mentioned on the invitation.
Smoking is generally unrestricted.
A service charge of 16 per cent is usually included in hotel
or restaurant bills. Cloakroom attendants and porters may
expect a tip per item of luggage.
A tip is generally included in taxi fares.