Spectacular lights make Ghent a shining example (also before and after the Light Festival)
Spectacular lights make Ghent a shining example (also before and after the Light Festival)16 jan 2015
One of the first things I did when I came to live in Ghent, was to take a late evening stroll. It was spontaneous but utterly rewarding. I’m still amazed by just how incredible Ghent’s most famous monuments look, brilliantly vibrant and alive with spectacular lighting against a dark sky. The views along the river Leie are breath-taking! The coming Light Festival, which runs from the 29 Jan 2015 – 01 Feb 2015, will be amazing and deLIGHTful, but also before and after this monumental, mind-blowing and definitely not to be missed event Ghent by evening/night is so worth walking through.
I was asked to do a Light Walk for the Tourist Office and I’m so glad they did. The Light Walk (the Ghent Light Plan) is fantastic. Theatrical and spectacular, but also a completely unique experience which is made better thanks to the online resources at visitgent.be. For me the best way to experience it, is to walk through the city around 7pm in the evening. I decided not to try to do it all at once, so planned it in stages and made an evening of each excursion by dining out afterwards. There are a wide variety of fantastic restaurants in the city, to suit the occasion whether it be a fun night out with friends or an evening meal for two. It’s been one of the best ways I’ve found for exploring the city I live in. I did discover something new every time I go out, and what’s more, it is absolutely free.
Gothic horror film
I decided to start from the Zuid via Korenmarkt and as I progressed from the familiar streets into the historic square, I felt a real sense of awe welling up inside. The cobbled walkways I have frequented by day, took on for me a magical old world vibe thanks to the clever use of brilliant lighting that casts shadows on the enormous surrounding stone structures.
Walking up to St Nicholas’ Church, the imposing building which impresses by day, is transformed into a theatrical spectacle, it looked to me like the perfect set for a gothic horror film. I couldn’t help wondering about the people who built it all those centuries ago.
I also took a stroll along the Leie in front of Graslei which is world famous, to see just what makes it such a tourist favourite. I have to admit nothing quite prepared me for the impact of the atmosphere. I stood on one spot for ages, for me it is just so exceptional. Everywhere around tourists were happily taking photos, and exchanging gasps of pleasure and surprise. I found it stunning and incredibly romantic. I am actually amazed by how new everything felt just by taking in the sights, at night.
The entire route spans several kilometres and I am yet to do it all, but it’s incredibly easy to plan and there is a free OJOO app via the play store, which is accessible to download via lichtfestivalgent.be. Using the app, you can access information about the exhibitions and how and where to get there from wherever you’re located, all at your fingertips!
I’d highly recommend the Light Walk as a feature of your visit to Ghent, ideal for a small group of friends, but I think it’s also perfect for a sophisticated grown up trip, or - my personal favourite - as a romantic outing for a couple.