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Knokke-Heist: The perfect place for a stylish and arty get away
Not only is Knokke-Heist the Belgian coast’s top art location, its diverse attractions – from outdoor fun and shopping to excellent food and drink – make it an ideal weekend and overnight destination. The upmarket resort prides itself on a seaside landscape that combines art, fashion and good taste.
With staycationing continuing to be the norm, the resort also enjoys many traditional charms. The wide and airy seafront is perfect for long promenades. Along with the endless stretches of sandy beaches, they offer the best views of the North Sea and its vast expanse of sky.
One constant distraction when strolling in Knokke-Heist is the eye-catching shop windows and flagship brands open daily, even on public holidays, in the golden shopping triangle of Lippenslaan, Dumortierlaan and Kustlaan. Until mid-November you can jump on a shopping shuttle bus to visit your favorite addresses. It’s free and runs every day from 11.00 to 20.00. Pick up a shopping plan at the Tourist Office (Zeedijk 660 Knokke, or Pannenstraat 138 Heist).
Although restaurants and cafés are closed for the moment following the latest round of safety measures, many offer tempting and practical take-away options; ideal if you are renting accommodation. From simple and authentic fare to gastronomic dining, don’t miss out on an opportunity to taste the sea and other examples of excellent local produce.
An all-year-round attraction is the Zwin Nature Park, lying near the Dutch border. Accessible by bike, foot or by car, the reserve is a paradise for many species of birds. Boasting fresh water and sea water areas, it’s an opportunity to learn about wildlife and plant life, with feeding and observation huts and activities for youngsters. Book your tickets in advance.
Meanwhile, Knokke-Heist is staging a packed programme of cultural events to brighten up the season, including the annual Open Gallery Art Weekend on 31 October and 1 November. The eagerly-anticipated 29th edition sees 50 of the city’s galleries open their doors with special shows, and it’s aimed at making art accessible to a wide audience, from curious onlookers to serious collectors.
Continuing the art theme, the big draw of the season is the annual photo event MOØDe at Knokke-Heist’s cultural centre, showing until 10 January (check the website for opening hours). The exhibition of 200 works by world-renowned Dutch photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn is a world premiere. Many of the iconic images from his rich portfolio are on display, some for the first time ever. A crossover of photography and the fashion world, they include portraits of Kate Moss, Alexander McQueen and Naomi Campbell. Corbijn’s influence stretched beyond the fashion borders. As the visual director behind UK electronic band Depeche Mode and through decades of collaborating with rock giants U2, he is an important commentator on contemporary culture, as this unique exhibition reveals.
Later on in the season, one of Knokke-Heist’s festive favourites returns for the third year in a row to light up the winter skies during the holiday season. Light ART from 5 December to 3 January is an illuminated promenade tour through the city’s main shopping streets. The light artworks are inspired by artistic masters, such as Keith Haring and Vincent Van Gogh, and include a fun quest for kids. The temporary light art trail is switched on during the first two weekends of December, from 19 to 23 and 25 to 30 December, plus 1 to 3 January.
If you’ve booked tickets for MOØDe or other Knokke-Heist events and attractions, consider spending the night or longer in the resort. The Visit Knokke-Heist website offers the largest selection of hotel accommodation and you can book your stay directly with hoteliers. On booking you will receive a VIP booklet offering discounts and benefits, which can be used in stores, restaurants and other places of leisure.
In collaboration with Knokke-Heist
Photo: Art Weeekend preview © Frankie+and+Fish+&+Manon+Nievelstein