Leisure time (links with events)

Belgium offers a great deal of recreational and entertainment opportunities. In the cities there is a wide range of music, theatre (sometimes with performances in English) and concert halls.

There are also many museums throughout the country, reflecting Belgium’s rich historical heritage. Festivals, parades and carnivals are very popular. Belgians are very enthusiastic about sports, including soccer and cycling. Sports complexes can be found in most local communities, as well as recreation and swimming pools, which are very popular in Belgium. So, how and where can you spend your free time?

Part-time art education (DKO)

Part-time art education is better known under the names of music school and art academy. Children, young people and adults can register on a voluntary basis:

Academies of Fine Arts offer the Fine Arts discipline

Academies for Performing

Arts offer at least one of the following courses: Music, Word Arts or Dance

Art academies always offer visual arts, music and word art. In some you can also follow Dance Children can start studying visual arts from the age of 6. For the disciplines of music, word art and dance, the starting age is 8 years.

Each field of study consists of different degrees. For each degree you successfully complete, you will receive a certificate indicating the level you have reached. You can find a list of academies per municipality  https://data-onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/onderwijsaanbod/lijst.aspx?hs=316 on the website of the Flemish Ministry of Education and Training. This list is in Dutch. Part-time art education is leisure education. It is therefore not to be confused with: an art school at the conservatoire. This is a programme that belongs to higher education a course of study in art secondary education. This is a program that belongs to secondary education.

Youth movements

A youth movement is an organization with and for children and young people. They are guided by young volunteers.  The management organises leisure activities for children and young people on a regular basis, usually on a weekly basis.  In most youth movements, playing and meeting are the basis of these activities. It contributes to personal and social development.  occasionally they start from a more thematic angle.  Most youth movement groups round off the working year with a summer camp.

From an organisational point of view, we make a distinction between a local group of a youth movement and the ‘national’ umbrella structure.  The local groups work autonomously or through a number of agreed statutes.  They carry out the effective operation with the children and young people and are the beating heart of the organisation.  The umbrella organisations are made up of national and regional voluntary and professional staff who provide support for the groups, training and exchange for the management and overarching activities and themes for the entire organisation.

Some youth movements are only girls – or only boy groups, others are mixed.

In Flanders and Brussels we find the following Dutch youth movement umbrella organizations:

Sports

Silke Van Damme, © Brecht Vanderveken

Sports are indispensible in Belgium. It is very often seen as a relaxing and healthy activity.Primary and secondary schools are obliged to include sport in their syllabuses. Sports after school are not organised by the school itself. What you can do as a high school student is apply for a Sport after School Pass. This allows you to do cheaper sports in your neighborhood.

The SNS pass is a sports pass for secondary school pupils that allows you to participate in various sports activities during a certain period of time after school hours. With an SNS pass you can play sports where, when, how much and with whom you want. An SNS card costs 30 euros for 1 period, for two periods you pay 45 euros.

And of course, there are numerous teams, clubs and organizations you can join.

Colleges of higher education and universities do not organise sports within the timetables. You can buy a sports card at most colleges and universities. This allows you to practice different sports without any obligation. It is best to ask your own university or college if they provide this kind of activities and what you have to do to subscribe.

As a child under the age of 12, as a student and as a 65+’er you can very often get discounts on turn cards or subscriptions. Please do not hesitate to ask for that.

The public roads, with the exception of the motorways, are fully accessible for recreational sports such as walking or cycling.

There are also many hiking and biking trails available. An overview of the different routes can be found (in Dutch) here https://www.reisroutes.be/blog/nieuws/. In Dutch only.

If you would like more information about sports and sports opportunities in Flanders and Brussels? click here  https://www.sport.vlaanderen/slim-sporten / .  in Dutch.

Culture

Culture is for everyone and does not have to be expensive. With the UitPAS, for example, you have a lot of extra advantages when you go to the theatre, attend a performance or a concert.

What is an UitPAS and for whom is it?

UitPAS is for everyone who wants to use it. UiTPAS is a savings and benefits program that aims to stimulate leisure participation. This is done by means of a points savings system: each card holder receives one point per participation in an UiTPAS activity. These points are collected on the profile of the card holder and can be exchanged for advantages.

You can collect and exchange points in all regions where UiTPAS is active. With an UiTPAS from the city of Aalst you can also earn points in Leuven and use an advantage in Maasmechelen. You can only get a discount in the UiTPAS region where the participant is registered.

UiTPAS is your savings and discount card for leisure activities.

  • You can earn points each time you take part in an UiTPAS activity.
  • These points can be exchanged for extra benefits.
  • Anyone who buys an UiTPAS will immediately get a number of welcome benefits.
  • People with an opportunity status are entitled to greatly reduced rates when purchasing and participating in UiTPAS activities.

Cultural Centres

Cultural centres are a well-known concept in Belgium. Every city or municipality has one. Abbreviated : CC. At the CC’s, you can enjoy performances, lectures, events and much more.

It is the meeting place for culture in your neighborhood. Every city or municipality provides every inhabitant with a cultural agenda. In it you will find all the planned events that take place in your city or municipality. Of course, most CCs also have an online agenda. Want to know what’s going on in the neighbouring CCs? Then it’s best to check the website.

Museums

OnErfgoedkaart.be  http://www.erfgoedkaart.be/you can find an interactive map, on which you can search for heritage organisations in Flanders and Brussels, including museums, by sector and municipality.

OnErfgoedkaart.be  http://www.tento.be/ you can find useful information about museums in Flanders and Brussels that are recognized by the Flemish government. Among other things, you can read about this :

  • What can be seen
  • Opening days and hours
  • Accessibility and location
  • Educational function: possibilities of guided tours
  • Facilities: library, cafeteria, museum shop
  • An extensive exhibition calendar

Trips

Amusement parks

Of course, leisure time consists of more than sport and culture. Trips are at least as fun. An amusement park is something you can do with both friends and family. Not always cheap, but always fun guaranteed. Below you will find a list of all the amusement parks you can go to. On the website of the park itself, you will find more information about opening hours and prices

Animal parks 

In addition to amusement parks, Belgium is also rich in animal parks. An excursion that is suitable for everyone, of every age. Below you can also find a list of all accessible animal parks in Belgium. When you click on the link, you will also immediately find the opening hours and prices.

The seaside

The sea or ‘the zji’ in West-Flemish, attracts a lot of people on a day off or at weekends. It is something typically Belgian to do. A walk along the dike or on the beach in better weather, an ice cream afterwards and a tasty meal, usually with fish or mussels. Relaxation is the trump cardIn the picture below you can find the most visited seaside resorts of Belgium. They are easily reached by train or car. If you already live in West Flanders, then the bus is very often also an option.

 

City visits 

Visiting a city is very often done in Belgium. Because our country is small, you can be anywhere pretty fast. It is easy to go for a day trip to Hasselt, Leuven, Antwerp, Brussels or Ghent for example. Shopping, walking through the streets and eating something are common activities.

Metropolises are also easily accessible by car or public transport. If you don’t live that far, going by bike is also an option.

Festivals

Belgium is a well-known country for its numerous festivals. You need not go far to find some sort of festival you can go to.
On this website https://www.festivals.be/festivals-belgie/ you can find all about the festivals that are going on and are coming soon.

Other. If you’re a little more adventurous, you can try paintball, laser shooting, karting, kayaking and so on. Slightly more expensive activities, but certainly nice.

Wild camping is not allowed. If you want to spend the night in a tent, you should go to cleared camping areas. It is allowed to camp in your own garden or the garden of somebody else if they allow you to camp there.

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