But I am not gonna explain you why you should stay in Brusssels when the damn sun deigns to show up, I already did.
Now, I will just consider I convinced you or you are compelled to stay in Brussels because you have spent all your holiday allowance on shoes (or whatever) or you are here in transit (have you ever met anyone abroad who doesn’t tell you he has been in Brussels “when going to Amsterdam/Paris/Düsseldorf “- Düsseldorf, you read me well?), anyway, this is a post about all the cool things you can do if you have the chance of being in sunny Brussels with (or without) kids.
1) There is always something special to do.
It is actually true all year long, but the summer is just a lively string of festivals, shows and family events.
- It starts with the Roller Parade. Every (dry) Friday evening from the beginning of June until the end of September, you can freely join this funny stroll and cross Brussels and its tunnels on roller skates or by bike.
- In July, the banks of the canal turn into Bruxelles les Bains : enjoy a cocktail or some exotic food along the beach while the children are having fun in the kids corner!
- Not really a family event, but on Saturday and Sunday afternoon there is a good-natured and chilly atmosphere at the Jardins suspendus (now Skybar 58). On the top of the parking 58, enjoy one of the finest views of the city while sipping a mojito (yes, we Belgians are all somewhat alcoholics and I sure am no exception).
- A more reasonable activity : assist to one of the free performances of the outdoor puppet shows Guignolet dans le parc, in the Parc Royal (Parc de Bruxelles). The shows are performed at 15.30 (on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday in May and June and from Wednesday to Sunday in July and August).
- Still in the Parc Royal, check out the Nomadic Theatre Festival with street theater and circus performances mid-August, and at the end of August Boterhammen in het Park, a free music festival you can enjoy while picnicking at lunch time.
- Whether you are a Folk and Jazz enthousiast or not, you will enjoy Brosella, the outdoor festival honoring both music styles at the beautiful Théâtre de Verdure near the Atomium mid-July. The Kids Village includes theatre, music, workshops and animations for the youngsters.
- From July to September, the Bruxellons Festival presents a multitude of theater plays in the romantic domain of the Karreveld Castle with, inter alia, a young public selection.
- For the ones who enjoy a mix of loud alarm sirens, spotlights, crowd and smell of fried food (not even talking about the joy of risking their lives on always more impressive attractions), the Foire du Midi (Brussels’s fairground) invades the surroundings of the South Station from mid-July until mid-August.
This was just a glimpse of the kids-friendly summer events in Brussels… but you know I will keep you posted weekly !
2) Brussels is green.
In every corner of the city you can find a park to enjoy a picnic or just lie down on the grass while Daddy is playing with the kids (never forget the ball at home). Here are some of my personal favorite spots, but you can find all Brussels’s parks here :
- Parc de Bruxelles : because it is central, there are lots of activities organized in the summer, a nice playground and the ice-cream salesman is never far away.
- Tour & Taxis : the new (and partly under construction) park behind Tour&Taxis makes you feel in NYC with its stunning view on the industrial and business areas of our city. The kids will love the sheeps !
- the Sonian Wood is huge, and I must say I am not sure I have seen it all, but I recommend you to visit at least the historical site of the Rouge-Cloître (here in the winter but it gives you an idea).
- the green areas close to the Ixelles’s ponds : ducks, a picnic table and La Cambre Abbey, close to Flagey and its funny water sprays.
- Bois de la Cambre : the most classic spot, but for a reason… relax in this huge park along the ponds, practice your roller skate skills (during the week-end and public holidays, it is closed to car traffic), let the kids have a pony ride and take the little boat to the Châlet Robinson for lunch or just a delicious waffle.
3) You don’t have that many occasions to have a drink on a terrace.
And some of them are in such aerated spots that you don’t need to worry (too much) about the kids if they don’t want to stay quiet at the table.
I used to frequent De Markten as all the yuppies aspirants, but at a certain point you have to reckon that the service is really really bad (by this I mean that I am too old to wait for an hour to get a drink, even a Vedett). On the so pleasant Vieux Marché aux grains, you’d better get a muro at the unfashionable Paon Royal, on one of the outside tables just in front of the playground (if you are lucky).
- *Flagey* Café Belga : once again, the place is (still) hippe, which means in Brussels that you need to order at the bar and feel pretty proud when getting noticed by the waiter. Still, the large terrace of the Belga with view on the Ixelles’s ponds is a must. The week-end market with its foodtrucks is pretty nice, too.
- *City centre* Brosella : close to the chaotic rue Neuve, on the appealing and surprisingly peaceful place des Martyrs. Brasserie kitchen with a prompt and pleasant service, very caring towards the children. The kids can run on this cobbled pedestrian square while you taste Brosella’s ‘filet américain’.
- *Sablon* La Fabrique en ville : nestled in the cute Parc d’Egmont, between the Sablon and the Toison d’Or avenue, La Fabrique en ville proposes delicious lunches, a great brunch during the weekend, and you can also just have a drink on its terrace under the shady trees,
- *Saint-Gilles* Café de la Maison du Peuple : the Parvis de Saint-Gilles has become a place to be, with always more little restaurants and cafés and its nice morning market. A bit bobo, hence a chilly atmosphere… try the café of the architecturally and historically interesting Maison du Peuple!
- *Marolles* Pin Pon : if you have some money left after the Sunday flee-market in the Marolles (of couuuuurse it was a great bargain)… head to the former fire station on the Place du Jeu de Balle and enjoy a drink on the terrace of Pin Pon. You don’t have such a nice view on the antique dealers as at the Chaff, but it is much safer for the kids as Pin Pon’s terrace is on the back of the building, on a small and quiet pedestrian place.
- Just pick one of the terraces on the *Grand Place* (keep an eye on the kids, though)!
3) Follow the lead and eat an ice-cream.
Cause that’s what we all do when the temperature is above 16C°.
- Gaston is a newcomer in the Sainte Catherine area. You can enjoy its delicious artisanal ice creams on its big terrace, or as many of us do, sitting cross-legged on the edge of the basins of the quai aux briques !
- Still in the Sainte Catherine area, try the ice cream of the master chocolatier Frederic Blondeel, a few houses further. Pure chocolate or speculoos… and delicious melted chocolate on the ice cream cone, yummy!
- Then of course the famous Capoue, with its nine ice cream shops in Brussels (amongst others at Flagey & Georges-Henri),and hundreds of ice cream flavours (from “petit beurre” to “croc rhum” but I am not sure I will taste the pumpkin one).
- And if you meet an Ucclois, first try to understand whether he is a Zizi or Il Gelato aficionados. It will spare you a lenghty public debate.
4) Outdoor activities
Even though we Belgians are optimistic (or despaired) enough to plan an outdoor activity on a cold or (probably and) rainy day, the following attractions are more fun experiencing in the summer. Pack a picnic and make it a day excursion in Brussels itself !
- The little steam train of Forest rides in the Parc du Bempt from May to Septembre (on Saturday and Sunday in May and June and only on Sunday from July to Septembre). Here is an idea of bike tour from the city center to this area.
- If your kids have developped a passion for public transportation (mine actually prefers a metro ride to the hugest slides), you should visit the Brussels Tram Museum on the avenue de Tervueren. Next to a beautiful collection of old tramways (which I personnaly found interesting – to the great distress of Mister K., trying to find Emma between the old wagons), you can enjoy a ride on an ancient tram through the Soignies forest or to the Cinquantenaire park. Afterwards you can have a drink or lunch at the Brasserie des étangs Mellaerts, which has a nice garden and playground.
- A boat trip on the canal ? La Fonderie proposes some interesting guided tours on its boat “La gueuze”, and RiverTours organizes several boat trips from Brussels, some of which with return by bike along the canal!
- Emma is still too young for the Magic Spel, but it seems to be a great outdoor activity : a family parcours / adventure walk in the urban forest of Neder Over Hembeek.
- Arh hem, I forgot to mention Mini Europe.
So, still wanna fly to boring Tuscany?
By writing this post, I collaborate to the great initiative of BelgoMums, a collective of cool Belgian mums and bloggers full of interest(s) and energy. Visit our Facebook page to discover other posts on this month’s theme : “summer tips“!