There will be many Belgian flags on July 21, for Belgium’s National Day. On the photo, a big Belgian flag hanging from a window in Nivelles. (U.S. Army photo by Christophe Morel)

Celebrating Belgium’s National Day

By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public Affairs

CHIEVRES, Belgium – On July 21, Belgium celebrates an important day in its history.

Belgian National Day commemorates an event that occurred July 21, 1831. On that day, Leopold of Saxe-Cobourg swore allegiance to the new Belgian Constitution and became the first King of the Belgians.

The king's vow marked the start of the independent state of Belgium under a constitutional monarchy and parliament.

In 1830, drawing inspiration from the recent July Revolution in France, the southern provinces of the United Netherlands rebelled against Dutch rule after a period of growing economic and religious disparity. The Dutch were forced out of the area, Belgium gained independence and a National Congress was created to write a Constitution for the new state. The Constitution was finalized in 1831, which explains why the king was sworn in that year.

July 21 is a day of national pride for Belgians, who celebrate this public holiday with concerts, parties, fireworks and other festive events.

Many places will be closed July 21, including post offices, banks, pharmacies, administrative services and stores. Some supermarkets will be open, but only in the morning. Some places will also be closed July 22, such as government services for the City of Brussels. Be sure to check the website of your city on July 20, 21 and 22 for information on other possible changes.

Belgian National Day events will also attract large crowds. Remain vigilant and do not forget to maintain situational awareness at all times.

Important Events

Many cities organize special events for July 21. Here are some examples:

July 20 - Activities, parade and fireworks in Bastogne: There will be activities for children, a walk, music, a light parade with more than 20 groups (9:30 p.m.), fireworks (11 p.m.) and a big popular ball at 11:30 p.m.

July 20 - National Ball in Brussels: On the eve of National Day, the National Ball is a must-see event in Brussels. The public can listen to music and dance the night away. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. with live music. Festivities will be held on Place du Jeu de Balle, a well-known square in the district of the Marolles. There is no entrance fee.

July 20 - Electro Night (Ball) and fireworks in Mons: The first DJ set (Funk/House/RnB) will start at 8 p.m. on the Grand Place. The last one will start at midnight (until 2:30 a.m.). There will be fireworks at midnight. No entrance fee.

July 21 - Te Deum in Mons: There will be a Te Deum at 11 a.m., at Saint Waudru Collegiate Church. Te Deum is a Christian hymn of praise to God that Belgium uses on every Independence Day to mark the importance of the nation. People sing the national anthem in every major Belgian city on July 21.

July 21 - Parades, Concerts and Fireworks in Brussels: numerous activities and free parades will take place between the Parc de Bruxelles (Warandepark) and the Place Poelaert:

  • 10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. National Day in the Park: entertainment and children's activities, concerts, Belgian Sports Day, folklore parades, security village, police village
  • 4 p.m. Military and civil parade
  • 9 p.m. Concert (at the Cinquantenaire)
  • 11 p.m. Fireworks (at the Cinquantenaire) Several metrotram and bus lines will have additional vehicles after the fireworks until 1 am.
  • Learn more about the festivities in Brussels scheduled for July 21.

July 21: Belgium’s National Day in Jurbise: Celebratory events will be held from 10 a.m. (Saturday) to 2 a.m. (Sunday). There will be activities for children and adults, concerts, fireworks (held at midnight) and more.