Every three years or so, the city of Ghent here in Belgium organizes the Ghent Light Festival. In 2018, this Ghent winter festival will take place from January 31 until February 4. Because there’s no point in hearing about it when the festival’s already passed, I wanted to share my experience attending the 2015 edition and give you the necessary information to visit this year.
I’m going again this year, by the way, so I’ll update this post afterward :-)
The Ghent Light Festival Route
The Ghent Light Festival route showcases 37 light art projects of local, national and international artists over 6.6 km. It’s designed as a loop so you can start wherever you like, but you do need to follow the designated direction. The light festival is usually very crowded so it’s best if everybody’s going the same way.
You can find the 2018 route here.
As you’ll see, there are two works of art that lie a bit away from the loop of the lights festival but everything is in the center of the city. Along the route are also four information points where you can pick up a paper map.
When to go to the Ghent Light Festival
Dates: January 31 – February 4, 2018
Time: 7 p.m. – midnight with an earlier start at 6 p.m. on Sunday February 4.
Please note that the light fest always draws a big crowd and that both public transportation and the roads will be packed right before it all starts as well as during the festival. I recommend leaving on time if you can.
Go grab an early bite in the city center or turn your visit into a day trip. Ghent has plenty to offer.
How to get to the Ghent Light Festival
By public transportation
Train station Gent-Dampoort is located close to the festival route and offers easy access from various big and smaller cities around Belgium. Belgian Rail has timetables and prices for all train connections in Belgium.
By bus or tram
If you’re coming from close to the center, taking the bus or tram might be an option. Check the website of transportation company De Lijn for timetables and prices.
I’m not gonna lie: traveling by car in Flanders isn’t the most relaxed way to travel, and especially not around peak traffic times which has basically become from Monday morning 6.30 a.m. until Friday evening 9 p.m. in some regions.
If you plan to travel to the festival of lights by car, prepare for the possibility of a traffic jam and please don’t drive into the center. It’s designed to keep cars out, making it hell to find a spot on the streets. The route of the festival will also be made traffic-free for non-locals.
Your best option is to follow the signs from the highway to the parking lots of event hall Flanders Expo. From there, you can take the tram into the city center.
Go here to check out other Park&Ride options.
Most of the Park&Ride options offer free parking, but you need to get a ticket to take the tram into the city center.