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.