Photo Essay: Ghent at Night

Ghent at Night
Ghent’s famous Graslei area lit up at night, taken from the St. Michael’s Bridge.

Ghent is a spectacular city during the day. Between the various areas you can explore (the Historic Centre, Arts Quarter, and Saint Pietersplein to name a few) to the old medieval architecture, museums, and of course incredible Belgian beers enjoyed riverside, the city is a gem of a destination in Western Europe. And the fun doesn’t stop once the sun goes down.

The nightlife in Ghent is active and diverse, thanks in part to the large university crowd that makes up a sizable portion of the population. The city centre boasts an impressive number of pubs, places to catch live musical performances, and clubs to dance the night away. But if you’re into something a little more leisurely, maybe even a nice romantic night-time stroll through the cobblestone streets, well Ghent has you covered because at night it turns into a magical illuminated wonder.

In 1998, the city decided to create a lighting plan that would illuminate prominent buildings and sites to make them more appealing while making the city safer at night. Ghent has since received three Michelin stars for their lighting plan. In 2011, the city launched the Light Festival bringing international lighting artists from around the world to Ghent to illuminate the city’s buildings and monuments. It was so successful that the city ran the festival again in 2012 but has since decided to the run the festival every 3 years. This past January, over 640,000 people enjoyed the Light Festival over 4 days.

Never have I seen a city showcased at night like Ghent is. If you’re a photographer, this city is pure gold. I particularly loved photographing around the Graslei. The river was incredibly still, letting the light reflect beautifully off of it.

Below are a selection of photos I captured on one evening strolling around Ghent. I didn’t have a particular route in mind when I set out. I guess you could say I “followed the light” (I know, bad joke). But if you pop into any of the Tourist Centers in Ghent you can pick up a map titled ‘Ghent Illuminated’ with a detailed route and sites to see.

Ghent at night
Looking south at the Graslei to St. Michael’s Bridge.
Things to see in Gent
The backside of St. Nicholas Church.
Ghent at Night
The Belfry (bell tower). Climb this during the day to get an incredible view of the city.
Stadshal, Gent
Underneath the Stadshal, an ‘M’ shaped pavilion used for concerts, dance shows, markets, or simply as a meeting point.
Ghent at Night
The Stadhuis, or town hall, comprised of both Renaissance and Gothic architectural styles.
Gothic Architecture
A dramatic-looking figure on the side of the Stadhuis.
Ghent, Blegium
Walking along Hoogpoort Street lined with small shops and cafes.
Things to do in Ghent
The entrance to the Gravensteen, or Castle of the Counts. I highly recommend a visit here during the day!
Gravensteen, Ghent
Light streaks from passing trams on the rear side of the Gravensteen.
Gent at night
The peaked sides of the Great Butchers’ Hall in the Groentenmarkt.
Graslei, Ghent
One final shot of the Graslei.

 

Have you been to Ghent? What did you think of the city’s lighting plan?

 

Interested in more post on Ghent? Check these out:

 

  • Pingback: Video: Top 5 Things To Do in Ghent()

  • Roman

    Arienne …these are fantabulous photos… shows the great eye and talent that you have.. well done. Roman

    • http://www.seeyousoon.ca Arienne

      Thank you so much for the comment Roman!