Carolus Festival: The pleasures of the past, today!

On the 20th March, Brussels travels back in time and brings the Renaissance city to the modern day. the Carolus Festival, An experience that promises to immerses young and old in the pivotal period of the past with a whole bunch of activities organised at several key sites around the capital, including the must-see Coudenberg Palace, the Brussels palace of Charles V.

Whether you want to try clothes worn by a crossbowman or dress as a lady of the Court or a knight, feast on a period buffet, take a guided tour of the historic parts of the city or get an introduction to medieval dance, this festival offers a great chance to go back in time with family or friends and get a taste of life for the Belgians of the years gone by. With so much on offer, here is a little glimpse of the festival’s events set to take place throughout May to September:

Cooking and tasting

Medieval Food

Being a festival of eras gone by, and being such an era characterised by the grand feasts and delightful delicacies, it is fitting that this festival offer all the culinary wonders of the Renaissance. On offer there is a

Cooking workshop: where visitors will be invited to get their hands doughy and make delicious recipes come from the past and straight into the future on your plate.

Period buffet: because a trip to the Renaissance can’t be complete without slinging some mead, feasting on pork and siting toasting a toast so hard that you lose half your drink. There will be a team of chefs cooking a selection of savory and sweet dishes to treat you and give you a needed boost should you continue your historic quest through town.

Zythology workshop: Fancy word, but just means someone who is a student and connoisseur of beer…A student of beer? you won’t find many university courses on this subject, but what better way to learn that have a pint in hand whilst sampling the different compositions, types and tastes of those savory suds.

Learning and discovery

Crossbow shooting Bernt Rostad

Of course, a historic occasion like this isn’t just about feasting, there are activities to be done, activities that highlight other aspects of Renaissance life. It’s learning, but without having to sit down and read a giant text book…

Crossbow shooting: if you’re bold (and old enough), members of The Grand Serment Royal et de Saint Georges des Arbalétriers de Bruxelles will direct you in the use of one of the Renaissance’s most dangerous weapons: the crossbow. There is also a harmless version for younger visitors.

Interactive musical discovery:  basements of Brussels comes back to life through the melodies, sounds, instruments and dances of the time of Charles V!

Meet the characters of the Ommegang procession | photoshoot: Crossbowmen, halberdiers, ladies and gentlemen of the Court will welcome the whole family, and this encounter with another time will be immortalised. Replicas of period costumes and accessories will be provided.

Guided tours of the “Giants!” exhibition: This exhibition displays all the facets of these characters, biblical and legendary heroes, who are so much more imposing than mere mortals. Tours start on the hour in French and on the half-hour in Dutch.

WAOUW treasure chests: each of these chests leads you to uncover the history of Charles V’s palace, if you can solve the challenge.

Underground treasure hunt: The search for the treasure of the Golden Fleece

Treasure Hunt

Now, all this history may be fun, but allow us to blur the lines a bit with fact and fiction as you are taken down this mysterious treasure hunt!

Little Charles V needs your help! He has forgotten the password to his treasure chest, which contains his Order of the Golden Fleece collar. Charles is looking for brave princesses and knights to help him decode the password. Are you daring enough to follow him on a quest among the ruins of the Coudenberg Palace? There’s a nice reward, too. Each child will receive a backpack containing supplies for the tasks (a treasure map, a disguise, a puzzle, a torch, etc.). Each task provides a clue to the password that will lead them to the treasure (the famous Golden Fleece collar). The children will receive a small gift at the end of the game.

The Eramus House and the Anderlecht béguinage


Erasmus, the man who’s pursuit for knowledge is legendary and is still honoured by international students undertaking Erasmus projects to study abroad. Maybe you don’t know, but the man had his house in Brussels, Anderlecht in fact, and the house is due to see plenty of activities during the festival

Guided tours and organised activities: On the Heritage Days, visit the Erasmus House and the AnderlechtBéguinage in the company of seasoned guides! Kids will receive an introduction to medicinal plants and build an insect hotel. After the visit, their parents will get the chance to taste herbal infusions from the garden and try their hand at cooking vegetable pâtésor drawing bees.

A Renaissance weekend at the Erasmus House: Immerse yourself in the Renaissance on a colourful weekend,with activities for all the family: dances and music, period costumes, demonstrations and an introduction to the tradesof olden times, craft market, stories and games for young and old, enthusiastic guides, food tastings and drinks with flavours from a lost time…

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