Celebrating Valentine's Day The Belgian Way

The best chocolate you can get! | ©KLMircea/Flickr
The best chocolate you can get! | ©KLMircea/Flickr
Photo of Bridgette Gottwald
11 November 2016

February 14 — you might either be rolling your eyes with resentment or jumping in excitement, but regardless, the day of love will always be celebrated. How is it celebrated in other countries and what are the cultural differences? Here’s how to celebrate in Belgium.

Stay at a romantic hotel in Brussels

Brussels has a lot to offer as far as romantic hotels are concerned. If you want to stay along the cobblestone streets in the Grand Place area, which is one of the most beautiful squares in the world, Hotel Amigo is your best bet. This elegant five-star hotel is a two minute walk from the Manneken Pis statue and The Grand Place, two of the most iconic sights to see in Brussels. With marbled bathrooms and Tintin memorabilia, you will be immersed in Belgian culture throughout your stay.

Other romantic hotels that would be great places to celebrate Valentine’s Day are Metropole Hotel, Le Châtelain, and The Hilton. Metropole Hotel is a lavish hotel near the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, featuring elegant rooms with classic European balconies. Le Châtelain is another five-star, luxurious, high-end hotel with an old world vibe, featuring antiques and exquisite comfort. Le Châtelain is located near the popular and stylish Avenue Louise, on a tranquil street while still being adjacent to all of the action. The Hilton, a four-star hotel, is also located in the Grand Place and is a sophisticated choice with high-end dining and upscale lodging. Needless to say, Brussels has a lot of great accommodations to offer its visitors for a romantic getaway.

Interested in romantic getaways outside the city of Brussels? No problem, Belgium has you covered with all kinds of different enchanting and cozy hotels or guest houses.

Hotel Amigo in Grand Place Area | ©Wikki Commons

Go on a weekend trip

Belgium’s central location makes it an easy spot to travel around and move from place to place with ease. You can dazzle your loved one with a surprise Valentine’s Day trip, without breaking the bank. Airfare in Belgium isn’t highly expensive because so many popular destinations are within 1-2 hours by plane. You are able to get to many popular places within the country by train as well.

Perhaps a weekend getaway to the charming and medieval Bruges, which is arguably one of the most romantic destinations in Europe, would be right up your alley. Bike through the cobblestone streets with your loved one as you gaze at the picturesque scenery. While visiting Bruges, you will feel as if you are a part of a real life fairy tale. You could take a romantic walk along the canals, taking in the scenery and looking at the beautiful white swans, or even ride in a horse-drawn carriage to a romantic dinner.

Visitors can take their special someone to Minnewater Park, where you will find the the Lake of Love. The Lake of Love has an idyllic bridge above the misty canal bank. This romantic hot spot comes from the tragic romance of Minna and her warrior Stromberg, and it has evolved into a local legend that claims you will experience eternal love if you walk over the lake’s bridge with your spouse. This stroll through Minnewaterpark is definitely a must see romantic destination in Bruges.

Romantic and charming canals of Bruges | ©Wikimedia

Attend chocolate events

Belgium offers special tastings, museums, exhibitions or chocolate themed activities that are good for a couple or group of friends celebrating the holiday. A chocolate event is certainly more exciting than a typical box of chocolate. However, even if you are trying to do something different this year for Valentine’s Day, it’s almost hard not to give a conventional Valentine’s Day gift, when you are in the country of amazing sweets – a box of Belgian chocolates certainly won’t let anyone down.

The Salon du Chocolat is an event that takes place at the Brussels Expo-Hall where 80 participants get together in an exhibition space to adorn their visitors with many different forms of chocolate. From chocolatiers, pastry makers, and confectioners, visitors are treated to live recipes, workshops, conferences, chocolate fashion shows and many other chocolate themed activities. In previous years, The Salon du Chocolat has attracted 30,000 visitors over three days to admire and sample the hard work of Brussels master chocolatiers.

Antwerp even holds its own chocolate week. Visitors need to have a chocolate pass and a brochure of the chocolatiers taking part in this chocolate-themed week, but they can walk around the main sights of the city, making stops at the best chocolate shops to try the most recent creations. Not only will visitors be able to explore a beautiful new city, but they are able to snack on gourmet chocolate along the way.

Delicious Belgian Chocolates | ©Pixabay

Antique jewelry and shopping

With antique shops all over the place, it’s hard for the passerby to not window shop and gaze at all of the beautiful gems, artwork, and china. For big spenders, or for a particularly special Valentine’s Day, Belgium has a lot of wonderful jewelry to offer. The best part about the items in these antique shops is that they come from all over – Antwerp, Paris, London, Spain.

Situated in the Grand Place area, there is a an antique shop called Bijoux Anciens, which offers lovely one of a kind pieces. The shop offers a large array of options, ranging from classic rings, engagement rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, antique china, and unique artwork.

Belgium is a great hub for shopping for diamonds, as Antwerp has the diamond district, which is also known as the Diamond Quarter. Since 2012, most of the gem cutting and polishing was historically done in the Diamond Quarter of Antwerp, but it has now moved to other centers elsewhere as well. However, about 84% of the world’s rough diamonds pass through the district, which has made it the largest diamond district in the world with a turnover of 54 billion dollars.

Not interested in shopping for diamonds? Perhaps you might want to try your luck at the Sablon antiques market in Brussels. Every Saturday, from 9am to 5pm and Sunday from 9am to 2pm, vendors from all over Europe set up their stands to dazzle Belgians with exquisite artwork, jewelry, fur coats, china, and home decor. The market, which originated in 1960, was set up as an artistic and cultural center for antique lovers. Here, you will find many beautiful antiques that have been preserved due to their pristine condition, rarity, sentimental meaning, and age.

Flea Market Place du Jeu de Balle, another great place to look for special antiques, prides itself on its extraordinary mix of household items, clothes and furniture. Similarly, Brussels Vintage Market is another great place where vintage creators, sellers and collectors gather together in the same place for a day to offer a wide variety of items to its shoppers. Brussels Vintage Market takes place at the Halle Saint-Géry every first Sunday of the month from 12pm to 7pm. After trying out these antique markets, you are bound to end up with a special, meaningful and unique gift for your loved one.

Antwerp Diamonds | ©Jennifer Dickert

Partake in some wine outings

Le Bar à Vins, located in Ixelles, has a cosy atmosphere with lots of great wines to choose from. Indulge in a wide assortment of quality wines from numerous different places with decent prices to get a taste of various popular destinations in Europe.

Only a few steps away from Place Flagey, Le Petit Canon is another great choice for a romantic wine bar. Le Petit Canon, discovered through Brussel’s Kitchen, has an intimate atmosphere with great cheeses and appetizers to choose from as well. With old photos pinned on the walls and old lamps hanging from the ceiling, Le Petit Cannon definitely has the perfect ambiance for a romantic evening out.

If you are a fan of wine and seafood, Mer du Nord is right up your alley. It is located at Palace de Sainte Catherine and it focuses mainly on a broad array of classic French wines, while also offering some of the best seafood from the North Sea. Experience Brussels at its finest while you enjoy a glass of wine amidst slurping down some fresh oysters on the half shell – or whatever seafood you fancy. Located in a lively and highly popular location, this will certainly not be an experience that you will forget.

Le Petit Cannon | ©Brussel's Kitchen

Attend a festival

Brussels has a festival calendar, with many options for unique and romantic events to attend. Starting in February, there are numerous events revolving around art, academics, books, cartoon films, concerts, workshops, performances, lectures, and more! The festivals that take place in Brussels during the month of February truly offer something for everyone. Be sure to check out all of the events listed on the Brussels festival calendar and the upcoming concerts during the month of February for some unique ideas for ways to spend Valentine’s Day this year.

If you are a cartoon lover, you could attend Anima, which is the annual Brussels animation film. The relaxed and magical event takes place at Flagey with over 200 screenings of all genres. Alternatively, you could buy tickets online to attend Museum Night Fever. Spend a night at the museum while absorbing some traditional Belgian culture. 20 different Brussels museums open their doors to artists who present an exciting program, followed by one of Brussels biggest after-parties. This event has proved to be very popular, as it has had more than 15,000 people attending each year. An inexpensive pass will give you access to all museums and to the buses so you can navigate around.

For art lovers, the Affordable Art Fair (AAF) is a fun and friendly event where you can purchase contemporary art amidst an inspiring atmosphere with young aspiring artists, as well as some of the biggest household names. The AAF suits many budgets as you can find artwork there ranging anywhere from 60-600 euros.

You can always look up music festivals online to purchase tickets for an evening out of listening to great music and dancing with your sweetheart. Belgian people take pride in their free spirited music festivals, and while attending them, you will definitely feel as if you are absorbing some traditional Belgian culture. During the month of February, there are many artists that will be hosting concerts, taking place in many different areas of Belgium. Be sure look into it, because there are even concerts that take place in Brussels on Valentine’s Day.

Alternatively, if you want to give tickets as a gift for a concert at a later time, there are famous concerts all throughout the year that take place in Belgium such as Tomorrowland, Rock Werchter, and Brussels Summer Festival.

Tomorrowland in Belgium | ©Wikipedia

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