How Ghent became a city of light
Light is an essential building stone of the city. Specific lighting accents contribute to its unique identity and atmosphere. And it's this interplay of light and darkness that makes strolling around in Ghent such a pleasant experience.
Did you know... that Ghent was the first Belgian city to develop an architectural lighting plan, back in 1999?
The basic principle is to provide sustainable lighting while consuming energy in a rational manner. Eco-friendly lighting and beauty go hand in hand in Ghent. Between sunset and midnight, the city transforms into a magical evening landscape of buildings, streets and squares enveloped in atmospheric lighting with an artistic touch. Wander through the streets and let them surprise you.
Ghent Illuminated walk
Would you like a sparkling tour of Ghent’s most beautiful illuminated buildings and squares? Follow the light walk and discover it for yourself! Start at the Kouter for a walk of approximately three miles. The walk takes you past all the highlights of the Ghent illuminations.
You will need about two hours to complete the entire walk. It’s best not to start too late, because at the stroke of midnight, the atmospheric lighting is replaced by ordinary streetlights. Plan your walk with one of the guides. Or explore for yourself: download the map here!
From artificial lighting to light art
Do you need a good reason to explore Ghent at night? How about original light art installations by international artists? Ever since 2011, Ghent has organised a triennial light festival, a major event during which artists from all over the world display their special light creations. The streets of Ghent by night are the setting for surprising displays, ingenious installations, spectacular performances and events involving light.
Some of the installations displayed for the first time during the festival find their way to a permanent location in Ghent afterwards. Two eye-catching light art installations situated along the route of the Light Plan walk are The Blue Birds of Maeterlinck and the work Ai Nati Oggi by Garutti.
The Maeterlinck light art installation was one of the highlights of the Ghent Light Festival in 2012. Since then, the stylised origami-like blue birds have been silently perched on the branches of the tree opposite Predikherenlei, using a minimum of energy. After nightfall, the illuminated birds' reflection in the water adds an extra dimension.
Italian artist Alberto Garutti pays tribute to the newborn babies of Ghent with “Ai Nati Oggi” (To those born today) (2011). Every time a child is born in Ghent, the street lamps light up softly. A push on the button in one of the Ghent maternity clinics and the entire city celebrates the arrival of a new inhabitant.
Atmospheric winter light
Even in the darkest months of the year, Ghent is determined to show its best side. Because we want to bring a bit of magic to Ghent in the Christmas and winter period, it’s our ambition to create an atmosphere of warmth and cheerfulness in the city. When evening falls, fiery dragons come to life in Ghent. They are but a few of the many eye-catching features of the city’s new Christmas lighting. Put on your winter coat and enjoy a walk in a magical winter atmosphere.
Every winter, the Castle of the Counts is immersed in a Christmas and winter atmosphere and transformed into a Winter Wonder Castle. Enjoy the magical atmosphere with enchanting lighting, festive decoration and merry music in the gatehouse.
During this period, many businesses in Ghent give free rein to their creativity and turn their shop windows into genuine light art installations. This makes Christmas shopping a delightful experience for the eye (but perhaps not so much for your bank account).