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Culture and leisure in Ghent

Ghent in living colour

For those looking for a break from studying and/or working, there are great things to do in and around Ghent.

Besides this extensive year-round offer, the streets of Ghent turn into one big party during 10 days every July... The Gentse Feesten ('Ghent Festival') is one of the biggest and most popular cultural festivals in Europe. During these 10 days, you can enjoy music, theatre, puppet players, street artists, etc. Nearly all street shows and open-air concerts are free.

Of course, Ghent University also provides certain facilities and student organisations.

Culinary traditions

With so many influences among its current varied population, it is not surprising that the Belgians have a passion for food and cooking. Various invaders throughout history including the Romans, Vikings, Spanish, French and English have all left their mark on the national cuisine.

The much quoted saying is that the Belgians cook their food with the finesse of the French but serve it in generous German size portions!

Many of the more hearty stews and soups are recipes handed down from one generation to another. Belgian chocolates and beer are internationally renowned and are in themselves a lure for many tourists with festivals celebrating both products.

Street stands selling waffles and chips are found almost everywhere for those wanting something quick. Restaurants tend to approach things more seriously and meals are seldom hurried.

Vegetarians and those with food allergies may find their options limited in some parts of the country.

Religion

Historically, Flanders is a predominantly Catholic region. Even though churches nowadays draw only a minority of the inhabitants, Catholicism is still the most important religion. Weekly masses, celebrations and services like marriages, communions, and funerals often take place in the catholic churches.

However, all major world religions are represented in Flanders (freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Belgian Constitution), and even smaller denominations usually have at least
one established community and place of worship in one of the larger cities. The state currently recognises six religions (and a non-religious community since 1993): Roman Catholicism (representing the majority of believers), as well as the Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish and Anglican religions. Islam was added in 1976. Islam is currently the second largest religion in Belgium due to the wave of immigration of foreign workers.