Street theatre, food trucks and a rodeo bull during Halle’s famous braderie
The people of Halle look forward to the braderie every year – and with good reason. This sidewalk sale across the city centre not only offers discounts on fashion and other goods, it’s a whole festival. The braderie was cancelled last year at the last minute, so this year – with corona measures relaxed – should prove even more upbeat than usual.
While most cities have a braderie every year, Halle’s is a whole festival. Kicking off on 24 June and lasting throughout the weekend, the event features street theatre, carnival rides, food trucks, a mobility salon and marching bands.
While kids are not quite as enthusiastic about sales as their parents, there is much at the braderie that will appeal to them. They can follow a workshop in graffiti or building a sand sculpture. Then of course there’s the fun fair, complete with bouncy castle, but possibly the most fun is the ‘crazy cycle course’, which puts kids on various bicycles, all of which have something terribly wrong with them. Kids are challenged to figure out how to ride them, despite their faults.
At the mobility salon, just across from city hall, adults can take to a ride of their own: on a mechanical rodeo bull. Anyone who can go the distance is entered into a contest, with the winner given a sports car to drive for a weekend.
But the concept of the braderie is about shopping, of course, with discounts offered before the official sales period starts on 1 July. Halle’s biggest shopping street is much more charming than in many other cities, with a lovely pattern of cobblestones guiding you through a mix of independent and chain stores.
There are also a few shops and restaurants scattered around the city’s famous basilica, in the streets known as the ‘Montmartre of Halle’. The nearby Ninoofsesteenweg is also a shopping hub in Halle.
And about a 10-minute walk from the basilica on Poststraat is the Streekproducten Centrum, your one-stop shop for regional products from Flemish Brabant. It’s a treasure trove of goodies, from beer to chocolate to biscuits to mustards and beyond. It’s impossible not to buy things here once you step in.
Halle is also offering free street parking during all four days of the braderie. Also good to know: Parking in Halle is free every Sunday and also on specific Shopping Saturdays. This year, those are on 3 July, 2 and 30 October, 6 November and 11, 18 and 24 December. Make sure to check if the spot where you are parking is normally paid with a metre or if you have to use the blue parking card. Metred spots are free, but cards must still be placed where required.
Of course, with the sales coming up in July, all the cities in the green belt around Brussels will be full of shoppers looking for great deals. An urban development project in Vilvoorde has made its shopping street, Leuvensestraat, and surrounding streets much nicer to stroll around, while the Markt in Wemmel is surrounded by shops, tucked behind beautiful arcades.
Halle Braderie: 24-27 June, across central Halle
Photo top, from left: Anke Van Rossem and Philip Demanet of Halle’s Retail Association, economy city councillor Johan Servé (Vooruit)