As it's always a bummer when you travel somewhere and notice on the day of your arrival that everything's closed, I thought it would be practical if I compiled a list of Belgian holidays in Belgium, which I'll update each year.
In this list, you'll find public holidays in Belgium, school vacations, the National Holiday and more, sometimes with a little explanation of what goes on that day and how I spend it.
- What are the holidays dates in Belgium?
- What are dates of the national holidays in Belgium for 2023?
- What are dates of the governmental holidays in Belgium for 2023?
- What are the dates of holiday in Belgium that locals work?
- What are the Belgian school holidays in 2023?
- What is the Daylight savings time?
- What are the astronomical events in Belgium in 2023?
Make sure to bookmark this post so you can easily come back to it later.
What are the holidays dates in Belgium?
Belgium has different kinds of holidays. First of all, there are the nationwide public holidays in Belgium. These national holidays are like the bank holidays in the UK. On these bank holidays in Belgium, most Belgian businesses and organizations – except for the police stations and the hospitals – are closed so you could say they are the most important holidays in Belgium
When a Belgian public holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, businesses will often “make the bridge” and give all employees a long weekend off. If these holidays are on a weekend, however, the employer can decide whether to compensate for that by giving the employees an extra day off or not.
Stores in Belgium are generally closed on Sunday, but you'll see that there are some retail stores that do open on Sunday and instead will close for a day during the week (Although there are some exceptions – for stores in tourist places, for example – retail stores in Belgium are obliged to close for one day during the week). These stores are often also open on Belgian Public Holidays.
Then there are also the “government holidays”, or the holidays on which only governmental services close. Some of these holidays are nationwide while others are only for one of Belgium's communities.
Thirdly, there are the holidays that are known and celebrated nationwide, but during which businesses and schools stay open, like Saint Nicholas. Then there are the school holidays and of course, we also have a National Day which is also a Belgian bank holiday.
What are dates of the national holidays in Belgium for 2023?
Listed below are the national holidays dates in Belgium for 2023.
|January 1||New Year's Day|
|April 9||Easter Sunday|
|April 10||Easter Monday|
|May 1||Labor Day|
|May 18||Ascension Day|
|May 28||Whit Sunday or Pentecost Sunday|
|May 29||Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday|
|July 21||Belgian National Day|
|August 15||Assumption of Mary|
|November 1||All Saints|
|November 11||Armistice Day|
|December 25||Christmas Day|
How are the nationwide public holidays in Belgium celebrated?
Listed below are the Nationwide public holidays in Belgium.
- New Year's Day. Almost nobody works on New Year's Day. Of course, hospitals are open, the police are there and if your oven catches fire, the fire department will come and put the fire out and a journalist will be there to report on it, but you get the idea. On New Year's Day, I always sleep in and take it slow until the early evening, when we have a family get-together.
- Easter Sunday. Easter in Belgium is always celebrated the Sunday after the first full moon in spring, so it's always on a different date. On this public holiday, most things are closed, except for the stores that are usually open on Sunday. On Easter Sunday, we always have a get-together at my grandparents' place. When I was little I was always super excited about this public holiday, as there's an Easter fair in the town where my grandparents live and so between the pie and dinner, we'd go to the fair.
- Easter Monday. Easter Monday is, logically, always the day after Easter Sunday and again most things will be closed. I'll usually just stay at home and work on Easter Monday.
- Labor Day. Labor Day is always on May 1. In the States, this public holiday is linked to the introduction of the 8-hour workday and the first big May 1 protest for a shorter workday in 1886. The link with the European May 1 isn't completely clear and undisputed, but in each case, May 1 is in Belgium just as much the public holiday linked to better working conditions for employees. The unions will often organize actions on this holiday.
- Ascension Day. Ascension Day in Belgium is always 40 days after Easter and it's celebrated by Christian religion as the day of the Ascension of Jesus. Although Catholicism is the biggest religion in Belgium, only a very small percentage of the population still actively practices it. For most people now, Ascension Day is just another public holiday.
- Whit Sunday or Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is always celebrated 49 days after Easter. It's another Christian holiday, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus. Like Ascension day, it isn't actively celebrated anymore.
- Whit Monday – Pentecost Monday. And the same goes for the public holiday of Pentecost Monday.
- Belgian National Holiday. The Belgian Day, also the Belgian Independence Day, is celebrated on July 21 with big festivities in Brussels, the highlight for most people being the military parade. On July 21, 1931, the first Belgian king, Leopold, took his oath as king.
- Assumption of Mary. Assumption Day in Belgium isn't really celebrated.
- All Saints day. All Saints day is a different matter, though. On this Christian holiday, people remember saints and martyrs. However, a lot of Belgians use November 1 to celebrate All Souls, which is on November 2 but which isn't a public holiday in Belgium. They use the day to get together with family and bring flowers to the graves of lost family members and friends.
- Armistice Day. Armistice day in Belgium is celebrated on November 11. It's the day on which we celebrate the end of World War I. Several places in Belgium will organize commemorative events that day. The biggest and best-known one is in Ypres, where Belgian and foreign government officials gather that day, together with hundreds of others who have some connection to the war. The event is broadcast on National Television.
- Christmas Day. Most people are home on Christmas day to spend time with their families. Although family get-togethers and dinner parties happen for two or three weeks around Christmas and New Year's, Christmas Day is the only official public holiday for everyone, besides New Year's Day, during that period.
What are dates of the governmental holidays in Belgium for 2023?
Listed below are the governmental holidays dates in Belgium for 2023.
|July 11||Day of the Flemish-Speaking Community|
|September 27||Day of the French-Speaking Community|
|November 2||All Souls|
|November 15||Day of the German-Speaking Community|
|November 15||Dynasty Day (“King's Feast”)|
|December 26||Second day of Christmas|
How are the governmental holidays in Belgium celebrated?
Listed below are the Nationwide public holidays in Belgium.
- Day of the Flemish Community. On the day of the Flemish Community, only the people working for the Flemish Community get a day off. Sometimes the banks in the Flemish Community will also close. There are usually smaller events happening throughout Flanders, but the biggest one is always in Brussels. The last couple of years there have been a few dance battles and concerts. July 11 is the day on which, in 1302, Flemish militias defeated soldiers of the French cavalry near Kortrijk. The battle is called the Battle of the Golden Spurs because of all the spurs the French left behind on the battlefield.
- Day of the French-Speaking Community. On this day, only people working for the government of the French-Speaking Community get a day off. Sometimes the banks in the Community will also close. Festivities are held in Brussels, the city where on September 27, 1830, Belgian patriots won a fight against the Dutch government troops. When Belgium had just become independent, this was a National Holiday. It's now a holiday of the French-Speaking Community because the revolt was started by the Walloons and supported by the French.
- All Souls. All Souls is a Christian holiday, but only public offices are closed that day. Other businesses are open.
- Day of the German-speaking Community. On this day, only those working for the German-speaking Community get a day off. Sometimes the banks in the Community will also close. Unlike the days of the other two communities, November 15 has no real historical significance for the German-speaking Community. It was chosen as a sign of connection with the Monarchy because it's the same day as Dynasty Day. The last few years, there have been discussions about changing the date, but so far that hasn't happened yet.
- Dynasty Day or King's Feast. Dynasty Day often changed dates in the past, until they settled for November 15, both the holiday of the Holy Leopold and the Holy Albert. Most public offices close on this day, everybody else works.
- 2nd day of Christmas. December 26 is only an official holiday for government officials.
What are the dates of holiday in Belgium that locals work?
Listed below dates of holiday in Belgium that locals work.
- January 6 – Three Kings Day/Epiphany. Three Kings Day celebrates the day on which, according to Christianity, three wise men followed a star until they found Jesus. In Belgium, bakeries sell a special cake that day in which a bean or something else small is hidden. The cake is sold together with a crown and so whoever gets the piece of cake with the bean, gets the crown and is king for a day. I love Three Kings Day cake.
- March 19 or June 11 – Father's Day. In Most of Belgium, Father's Day is celebrated the second Sunday of June, while in the region of Antwerp it's celebrated on in March.
- May 14 pr August 15 – Mother's Day. If you ask a Belgian “When is Mother's Day in Belgium?” the answer will again depend on where that person is from. In most of Belgium, Mother's Day is always the second Sunday of May. In the region of Antwerp, however, it's on August 15.
- December 6 – Saint Nicholas Day. Belgian kids don't only get presents for Christmas, a lot of them get something for Saint Nicholas Day as well!
- February 14 – Valentine Day. It's not as big and commercial yet as it is in the States, and no real drama if you don't have a date this day, but a lot of Belgians will go out with their partners or treat them to a gift on Valentine's Day.
- April 15 – Administrative Professionals Day. A day on which bosses do a little something for their assistants. If they're good bosses, that is ;-)
- November 11 – Saint Maarten. The origins of the Saint Maarten celebrations in Belgium aren't that clear. In some cities, they celebrate Saint Maarten, but not Saint Nicholas, while in others they'll celebrate both and in yet others only Saint Nicholas. I've only ever celebrated Saint Nicholas.
What are the Belgian school holidays in 2023?
Listed below dates of Belgian school holidays in 2023.
- Christmas break: The Christmas break in Belgium is from December 26, 2022 to January 8, 2023.
- Carnival holiday: The Carnival holiday in Belgium is February 20 to February 26, 2023.
- Easter break: The Easter break in Belgium is from April 3 to April 16, 2023.
- Summer break: The Summer break in Belgium is from July 1 to August 31, 2023.
- Fall break: The Fall break in Belgium is from October 23 to November 5, 2023.
- Christmas break: The Christmas break in Belgium is from December 25, 2023 to January 7, 2024.
As you can see, in Belgium the summer holidays are the same for schools across the country. As we're so small, there's no need to divide the summer holiday in Belgium over different regions, like in France or Germany.
What is the Daylight savings time?
Listed below are the dates that Belgium switches time in 2023.
- March 25-26: Belgians move the clock an hour forward for Daylight Savings Time. This always happens the last full weekend of March.
- October 28-29: Belgians move the clock an hour back to end Daylight Savings Time. This always happens the last full weekend of October (for example, in 2015 Oct 31 – Nov 1 fell on a weekend, so we switched the time a weekend earlier)
What are the astronomical events in Belgium in 2023?
Listed below are the astronomical events in Belgium for 2023.
- March 20: March equinox
- June 21: June Solstice
- September 23: September Equinox
- December 22: December Solstice
What are the best things to do in Belgium during the holidays?
Listed below, you'll find some of the best things to do in Belgium:
- Go rafting or kayaking in the Ardennes: Navigate the rivers of the Ardennes, including the Lesse, Ourthe, and Semois. Experience diverse terrains, from calm waters to challenging rapids.
- Attend a music festival: Belgium has a vibrant festival scene, with events like the world-famous Tomorrowland, historical Gentse Feesten, and diverse Dour Festival. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and enjoy great music.
- Go on a guided boat trip in Ghent: Experience Ghent from its canals. Take a tour that reveals historical sights like the Gravensteen and Old Butcher’s Hall, mainly from Graslei and Korenlei harbors.
- Get lost in the Durbuy Labyrinth: Explore the largest hedge maze in the world located in Durbuy. Challenge yourself to find your way through the intricate pathways and enjoy the thrill of getting lost.
- Participate in a chocolate-making workshop: Belgium is famous for its delicious chocolates. Join a workshop where you can learn the art of chocolate-making and create your own sweet treats.
- Horseback riding on a North Sea beach: Enjoy a unique experience by horseback riding along the beautiful beaches of the North Sea. Feel the wind in your hair and take in the stunning coastal scenery.
- Sail through the treetops at Dinant Aventure: Visit Dinant Aventure and try their thrilling treetop adventure course. Zip line, climb, and swing through the trees for an adrenaline-pumping experience.
These are just a few of the many exciting activities you can enjoy in Belgium. Whether you're seeking adventure, cultural experiences, or culinary delights, Belgium has something for everyone.
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