Brussels Iris Festival

Brussels Iris Festival
The Iris Festival (Fête de l'Iris in French or Irisfeest in Dutch) is the annual celebration of Belgium’s Brussels-Capital Region. Held every year on or around May 8, it is the official celebration of the region and a public holiday for civil servants.

May 8 was chosen as the date of the official holiday of the Brussels-Capital Region in 2003 for three reasons. First, it occurs during the flowering season of the iris, also known as fleur-de-lys. The iris is the symbol of the region and has been depicted on its flag since 1991.

Second, May 8 is one of the feast days of Saint Michael the Archangel, who is venerated as the patron saint of Brussels. Third, it is the anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany and the victory of the Allies in World War II.

The Brussels Iris Festival usually lasts two or three days, drawing over 100,000 attendees. The program of the festivities includes street performances (dance, magic, circus, street theater, acrobatics, poetry readings, mimes, puppet theater, and more), free concerts, themed villages, a food truck festival, and other entertainment for people of all ages.

The festivities are held at the Brussels Park, also known as Warandepark, and the surrounding areas. During the Iris Festival, the city’s largest public park is divided into themed villages where various organizations and institutions offer free family-friendly activities for the young and the old alike. For example, the 2022 Iris Festival featured four villages:

  • the Science Village with scientific experiments and practical workshops
  • the University Village with activities hosted by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
  • the Association Village celebrating the culture and diversity of the Brussels-Capital Region
  • the Public Village where the region’s public services, organizations and institutions presented their work and projects

Past festivals have also featured other villages, such as the European Village, the Children’s Village, the Sports Village, the Museum and Cultural Heritage Village, the LGBT Village, etc.

The Iris Festival also features a food truck festival, where several dozen food trucks offer various cuisines from all over the world: African, Balkan, Belgian (naturally), Cambodian, Caribbean, English, French, Italian, Lebanese, Mexican, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, and more! From Belgian waffles to fish and chips to churros – everyone will find something to their taste.

In the evening, the square between the Brussels Park and the Royal Palace called the Place de Palais is transformed into an enormous dance floor to host the Electric Night, an EDM party featuring the best Belgian and French DJs.

In addition to the events and activities held at the Brussels Park, many of the city’s institutions, organizations and buildings that are normally closed to the general public offer free guided tours during the Iris Festival. Another highlight of the festival is the vintage tram parade that gives people a unique opportunity not only to have a look at unique vintage vehicles, but also to ride them.

Brussels Iris Festival




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