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Leuven goes summer in the city with Groot Verlof

18:50 12/07/2018

The citywide festival Het Groot Verlof returns to Leuven this month. In its fourth season, the month-long programme of activities is sticking to its tried-and-true recipe, says Kris Peeters, who heads Leuvenement, the non-profit organisation that organizes the city’s biggest cultural events. “We’re offering six weeks of activities across the city, with a lot of music and food events, and with something on offer for everyone,” he says.

The guiding premise behind the programme, which runs from 13 July until 12 August, is that you don’t need to get out of the city to have a good time during the summer months. “You don’t need to travel to some remote destination; you can have your holiday here in the city,” Peeters says. Not coincidentally, Het Groot Verlof means The Long Leave in Dutch.  

Het Groot Verlof kicks off with a Beleuvenissen music night and closes with the Half Oogst street festival, and offers plenty of music, food, outdoor movie nights, folklore, workshops, art and talks in between.

Blanche and Billy Ocean

The first Beleuvenissen evening on 13 July – three are scheduled in total – will feature performances by pop singer Ozark Henry, a music festival fave, Antwerp rapper Slongs – formerly known as Slongs Dievanongs – and the madcap deejay trio Discobar Galaxie.

The final Beleuvenissen event on 27 July brings a similarly wide sprinkling of genres, with a dab of soul, courtesy of eighties singer Billy Ocean, unpretentious pop by way of former Eurovision contestant Blanche as well a chamber pop performance by Spencer the Rover and the Late Chamber Players, and a one-hour set by veteran dance deejay CJ Bolland.

Plenty of family-friendly activities will also on offer during Het Groot Verlof: at the Familiebar in the main city park, children can keep themselves busy with the Swedish lawn game Kubb (sets can borrowed at the bar), bouncy castles, face paint activities and books from the onsite pop-up library during weekends.

Restaurant crawl

Teens who want to get their fill of music, art and food for thought can head to the Habitat Festival on 4 August. Held in the grass lawns around the Alma III student restaurant, the free festival will feature art installations, lots of urban music performances as well as talks on the feeling of “too muchness” that social media-induced loneliness and the stress of choosing can produce.

One of the biggest Groot Verlof showstoppers continues to be the Hapje-Tapje gourmet festival, says Peeters, which allows visitors to sample the city’s culinary offer by way of a restaurant crawl of sorts along the Muntstraat, Hogeschoolplein, Tiensestraat, Margarethaplein and M de Layensplein. “To be in Leuven on that day gives you a sampling of everything Leuven restaurants and cafes have to offer,” Peeters says.

And no need to worry about racking up a big bill along the popular gastronomic tour; no bite will cost you more than €5.

Written by Linda A Thompson