New Years in Flanders, Some Offbeat Suggestions

Soon in Leuven

27 december 2018
Auteur(s): Nicholas Johnston
Do you have any New Year's Eve plans yet? Check out Nick's 'off the beaten' path suggestions...

“you know the deal, PARTY, PARTY, PARTY till very very late!”

Veterans of the Oude Markt

by Nick Johnston

Soon in Leuven Editor

Everyone knows about Christmas Markets, in fact, students likely can’t help but have passed by Leuven’s on Ladeuzeplein. Though celebrating the Christmas spirit is made easy by the long standing decorations in public squares, New Years Eve threatens to pass in a flash. Here we’ll share a few tips for students that find themselves here for the holidays, and want to explore some options they might not have heard of otherwise.

For the dancers and partiers, clubs and bars throughout Leuven will be celebrating the New Year along with the rest of the city. Classic student haunts like Ambiorix, Maxim’o, and Cafe Belge shall offer the usual, but jazzed up for the occasion. Cafe Belge’s event description for New Years Eve captures the spirit well.“you know the deal, PARTY, PARTY, PARTY till very very late!” Veterans of the Oude Markt know the drill.

Clubs and dancing are easy to find though. But surely there is something more? Something off the beaten path, perhaps unknown to internationals, or attractive to those who don’t fancy drink and dance? Well buckle up because we found something unique.

For those with friends on the coast to stay with, or a hankering for a night at a hostel, a trip to the coast could be a welcome reprieve from the Leuven beat. An exceptional example may be Koksijde, a small town by the sea which hosts an annual array of festivities every December 30th complete with, bonfires, fireworks, and other fire related spectacles, like fire breathers!

There will also be plenty of seafood, served by shrimp fisherman riding horses, a phenomenon which remains a mystery to me. Additionally, a small forest erected on the beach with huts selling warm drink stands and hosting events shall be open throughout the duration of the holidays, right near Koksijde.

This is a quiet, quaint, family friendly option. Take a long train ride through the cold to the sea from Leuven, bring a thermos with some tea, and your readings to study, for a reprieve from the usual. Dress warm to brave the elements and the wind sailing across the sea to try something new.

In the days and weeks following New Years, citizens in many coastal towns in Belgium will haul their christmas trees onto the beaches and burn great big bonfires, though the schedules for cities vary, so do some research in advance.

If you’ve got a friend, a go-pass, or hankering to try something new, check out the Belgian Coast around New Years. You can have the best of both worlds, with some events beginning in the early evening, or even the day prior to New Years Eve, like in Koksijde. These are the sorts of cultural encounters few internationals find.

Information Regarding Coastal Firework Displays:

Information on Koksijde: