The 10 Best Music Festivals in Belgium
For a relatively small country, Belgium is host to several major music festivals, some of which attract people from around the world. With a party-hard atmosphere and a diverse selection of music, these events are a great opportunity for attendees to let their hair down and enjoy themselves.
The festivals are often headlined by top international stars. They each have their unique character, so you are bound to find one that’s perfect for you. Here is a list of the top Belgium music festivals that you should consider going to.
When: July (6 days)
The biggest music festival in Belgium, Tomorrowland is also one of the top electronic music festivals in the world. Since it began with a small audience in the town of Boom, Flanders in 2005, Tomorrowland has grown to become a mecca for electronic music fans in Europe. The event is so popular that it is now held on two consecutive weekends. Showcasing the talents of the world’s best DJs, Tomorrowland is known for its extravagant stage design and awesome fireworks display.
Tomorrowland is held in July and in 2022, attracting 600,000 attendees from over 200 countries. To accommodate such a large number of people the event is divided into different stages, allowing fans to enjoy different types of music. The main stage is the centerpiece of Tomorrowland and is the largest stage of any music festival. Over 15 additional stages are also used, including a circus tent, a three-floor open warehouse, and a grass amphitheater.
When: August (3 days)
A major event in the town of Ronquieres, this three-day festival boasts an eclectic mix of music with a predominance of electronic and pop music. This festival is located in the French-speaking part of Belgium, so the majority of acts are French or Belgian. Nevertheless, there is also plenty of international talent. Held for over 8 years, this event attracts 250,000 festival-goers annually who are drawn to the unique atmosphere and exceptional concerts.
With an emphasis on quality, diversity, and discovery, the Ronquieres festival showcases established and promising artists from the Wallonia-Brussels federation as well as well-known international acts. A covered space of over 10,000 square meters allows attendees to enjoy the music while sheltering from the heat of the Belgian summer. When people aren’t immersed in the concerts, they can enjoy scenic views of the Inclined Plane canal and passing barges.
3. Graspop Metal Meeting
When: June (4 days)
As the name suggests, Graspop Metal Meeting is devoted to metal, hard rock, and punk. However, it was not originally conceived as a heavy metal event. Founded in 1986, it was a family rock festival that, in 1995, headlined Joe Cocker. However, demand was weak and the event was rebranded as ‘Graspop Metal Meeting’. In 2022, the 25th anniversary of the event saw the attendance of 150,000 hardcore fans who were treated to music from Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, and Alice Cooper.
The largest heavy metal festival in Europe, Graspop Metal Meeting is held annually in the tiny town of Dessel, 60 km from Antwerp. While Iron Maiden has headlined the event most frequently, other prominent bands have included Hatebreed, Saxon, Sick of it all, Cardale of Filth, Slayer, and Moonspell. Two main stages are used to host the headlining acts.
4. Rock Werchter
When: July (4 days)
Rock Werchter is a legendary rock music festival. Since the event first began in 1974, it has featured famous artists such as Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Oasis, Radiohead, R.E.M, Foo Fighters, and Nine Inch Nails. Continuing the tradition of hosting some of the biggest names in the music industry, the 2022 event was headlined by Pearl Jam, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The festival, which is held in the town of Werchter, has also evolved over its almost 50-year span. While rock music remains a mainstay, other genres, such as pop, dance, metal, and indie are also played. Rock Werchter typically attracts around 150,000 people, making it one of the largest summer festivals in Europe. Despite the celebrity acts, the atmosphere is laid back and the people are friendly. Camping is allowed and the festival takes place over four days.
When: August (4 days)
Pukkelpop began in 1985 as a small, local event before going on to become one of Belgium’s biggest musical festivals. A celebrated cultural event, Pukkelpop has played host to many legendary bands and singers such as Beastie Boys, Rihanna, Sonic Youth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more. Over 200,000 people from all over the world attend the festival which is held in the town of Kiewit near Hasselt.
Several stages are provided for different acts. This includes the main stage, the Marquee, the Dance Hall, the Skate Stage, the Boiler Room, and ChateauXCrapule, bringing the total number of stages used at this festival to seven.
6. Dour Festival
When: July (5 days)
The biggest festival held in French-speaking Belgium, the Dour festival is held annually in the municipality of Dour. The festival has grown considerably since it first started in 1988 and attracts around 225,000 attendees. It is spread over five days with over 280 bands and DJs performing on nine stages. A wide variety of musical genres are featured, including rock, pop, electro, hip-hop, R&B, and reggae. The focus is on alternative music, with participants being treated to the best new songs from around the world.
The main stage is known as the Last Arena and features headline acts while the Dance Hall offers mostly electronic music. The Jupiler Boombox features a mix of rap, hip-hop, R&B, and soul while indie rock predominates at La Petite Maison Dans la Prairie. La Caverne features punk and heavy metal while Le Labo provides experimental music. Dub corner offers dubplates while Red Bull Elektropedia Balzaal functions as a dance floor.
7. Sunrise Festival
De Lilse Bergen, Gierle
When: June (3 days)
The Sunrise Festival takes place in the green oasis of De Lilse Bergen. The beautiful beach provides a stunning backdrop to this three-day festival that focuses primarily on electronic and dance music. Floating stages, exciting live acts, and amazing special effects enliven this event and the festival’s pool parties are legendary.
The festival is completely cashless, with participants using a wristband to purchase food and other items from the food stands and bar. Lockers are also available. Young children are not allowed, with only those aged 16 and over being admitted. A volleyball court and soccer field can also be used to have fun with friends while a camping shop is at hand for any essential purchases.
8. Les Ardentes
When: July (4 days)
Les Ardentes is an electro-rock music festival held annually in Rocourt, Liege, noted for attracting some of the biggest names in hip-hop. In 2022, the performer list included ASAP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion, and Tyler. In previous years, the event attracted famous artists such as 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, Marilyn Manson, Missy Elliot, and Method Man. The festival began as a three-day event but has since expanded to four days.
Les Ardentes is one of the biggest festivals in the Meuse-Rhine Euroregion, attracting over 76,000 participants. While the focus is on urban music, other musical genres are also showcased, with dance, rock, and pop songs also being performed. The festival’s scenic location on the banks of the Meuse River adds to its appeal.
9. Cactus Festival
When: July (3 days)
One of the longest-running music festivals in Belgium, Cactusfestival has been held since 1982. The beautiful Minnewaterpark in the city of Bruges provides the backdrop to this exciting event which offers a mix of musical genres from jazz and pop to reggae and rap. A selection of renowned international and Belgian artists headline the festival which usually has a particular focus on rock and alternative music.
Major past performers at this event include Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Balthazar, White Lies, Supergrass, and Richard Hawley. Unlike most major music festivals in Belgium, the Cactus festival keeps the formula simple. There is only one stage and attendance is limited to 25,000 people. However, it has proven to be a recipe for success as the festival has been running for almost 40 years.
10. Genk On Stage
When: June (3 days)
Unlike most of the festivals on this list, Genk On Stage is free to attend. It is also open to all ages and provides entertainment for the whole family. Held for three days in the town of Genk, the festival is headlined by top talent in Belgium and around the world. Artists who have performed here include Earth, Wind and Fire, Laylow, and Lil ‘Kleine.
There is no campsite, but festival-goers will find plenty of options in the city of Genk. Apart from hotels and hostels, people can set up tents in available gardens, with some residents permitting visitors to camp in their gardens. The food on offer is truly diverse with Turkish, Greek, and Spanish cuisine freely available, along with traditional Belgian fare.
With an eclectic selection of musical styles, top musical stars, and a great vibe, the music festivals in Belgium are a great opportunity to party hard and listen to your favorite music with friendly like-minded people. Belgians love to party and many festivals have a unique character that makes them special. Events such as Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter are internationally famous while even the smaller festivals will undoubtedly provide an unforgettable experience.