The Belgian Quarter has long been a destination for people looking for something a little bit different. Named after the many streets in the neighborhood which refer to mostly Belgian and Dutch cities, Art of Touring features the quarter on some of our “Cologne off the beaten track” guided walking tours. We love showing visitors a totally different side of Cologne than they see around the Cathedral and in the Altstadt.
Kölners love their events, and chief among them in this neighborhood is Le Tour Belgique.
What is Le Tour Belgique?
First off, no, it is not a cycling race. The “Tour” of the Belgian quarter is more like a shopping frenzy combined with a good old-fashioned party. There is an active theatre and music program on offer as well as clubbing well into the early hours.
The key element of the event is that the stores of the district open until 10pm and hold a series of events (DJs, readings, mini concerts). This is often accompanied by a good supply of cool refreshing Kölsch beer, locally produced Gin (from Gin de Cologne), or the tasty alcoholic concoctions made by Rheinherz.
For art lovers, there is much on offer. The galleries in this vibrant quarter open their doors and welcome visitors. A lot of art is also attached to lampposts throughout the quarter giving the sense of a place which is bursting with creativity.
In addition, there is the street art. This ranges from small stickers to murals covering entire houses. Once you start looking for it, you will find it everywhere.
When and where do the events take place?
Now in its 17th year, Le Tour Belgique is always held at the beginning of spring, as the city awakens from its post-Karneval slumber.
The area of activity is focussed on Brüsseler Platz, in the heart of the Belgian Quarter, which is the number one hipster place in Cologne to hang around outside all summer and do people watching by the way.
Overall more than 60 venues take part in the festival each year meaning a fantastic diversity of retail, music, and party opportunities are on offer.
Our tips for a great Tour Belgique
- It is worth hopping around the different venues to find the location and atmosphere that you like. The Markthalle (Maastrichter Straße) is always worth a stop as there is a friendly atmosphere and a variety of foods on offer. We went for the freshly baked waffles with cinnamon sugar.
- Another refueling option is Wurst Case Szenario. Aside from the name being a brilliant pun, they also make a delicious sausage. They offer all things hotdog: Classic German Currywurst, American style hotdogs, and veggie options.
- Don’t forget about the music. Bands play a rolling program of mini-concerts throughout the day. They really help to bring the experience to life. There are copies of the program available at all the venues, online, and through the Rausgegangen App.
- Coffee is also a good fuel for your visit: the best places locally are Heilandt Coffee (Bismarkstraße) or just across the road in the Woyton Cafe (also Bismarkstraße). Here, if you’re lucky, the spring sunshine can warm you on their outside terrace.
- Keep an eye out for a bargain. The shops often offer significant discounts which are great. What’s more, considering with the free drink samples on offer, you may find yourself going home with a few more purchases than you had originally intended!
Coming up in the Belgian Quarter
Le Tour is over for 2019, but hopefully you have been inspired to go next year – April 2020. There is also Chic Belgique coming up in the late summer 2019.
In the meantime, if you want to find out more, contact Art of Touring about our off-the-beaten track guided walking tours in Cologne.