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Summer in Belgium with P&O Ferries


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Royal Greenhouses at Laeken

If you are a botanist, gardener by trade, green fingered or just a big fan of plants then a wonderful annual event is about to happen in Belgium and you can be there if you book with P&O Ferries.

For just 3 weeks each year in spring the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken are open for the public to enjoy. If you miss this opportunity it won’t come around again for another year, so don’t miss out. April 15th – May 6th you have you have your window, the green houses are closed Mondays but for 2.50 euro and free to under 18s you can peruse the greenhouses at your leisure.

To the uninitiated this site is a remarkable feat of engineering, built in the late 19th Century under King Leopold II to compliment his castle at Laeken. Greenhouses are quite commonplace these days but at the time using only glass and metal as your construction tools was as revolutionary as the construction of the first skyscrapers. The architectural style was an inspiration to the art nouveau movement, modernising classical forms such as domes and turrets so that they contrast but fit together with King’s royal seat at Laeken Castle.

Once you are finished marvelling that a building so innovative could be centuries old, you can realise that there are even more treasures within. The reason why Laeken is shut off for roughly 95 percent of the year is that the botanical treasures within are just as amazing as the glass house that nurtures them.

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It’s well worth the trip even if you have a passing interest in plants. The gardeners have strived to keep the thematic presence of the greenhouse as similar to their original intent as possible, it is essential a time capsule back to the days of King Leopold II court. Many of the original plants and their descendants still grow at the original site. The greenhouses at Laeken also boast a wide variety of some of the rarest and endangered species of plants in the world, indeed some no longer live in the wild. So short of mounting an expedition deep in to the wilderness you’re never likely to see such species in life, surely worth 2.50 euro and a bit of wander?

It’s a first come first served basis, you cannot book tickets or tours in advance, for more information click here.

Getting to Belgium

The P&O Ferries crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge is roughly a 12 hour trip departing from the North Sea Terminal in the UK at 1900 hours. You must check in 90 minute prior to departure so be sure to plan ahead for your trip.

Passage over night in the Ferry can be as vibrant or relaxed as you wish. You can opt for a formal meal with table service or convalesce in your cabin or at the bar. There’s also on board entertainment should you choose live shows, cinema or on board music, or even try your luck at the casino.

If you aren’t planning a long holiday a quick trip at sea can be just as much fun as a stay over in Belgium. P&O Ferries offer Mini-Cruise tickets, letting you voyage over night with all the amenities that the ferry has to offer and coming back the very next day after a brief jaunt on shore in Zeebrugge. For more information on P&O Ferries two for one deal just £79! Click Here. These include stop overs in Bruges, Ypres, Ostend, Ghent and more.

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For a bit of history come to Bruges for May 5th to see the Procession of the Holy Blood . Tickets can be booked now if you require a seat other than that be sure to book in advance. The ceremony dates back to the early 1300s and displays the arrival of a phial containing Jesus’ blood to the city. The relic can be seen on this day, history itself come to life with all the pomp and ceremony that 8 centuries of religious tradition will accrue including a re-enactment of the crucifixion and resurrection in the centre of Bruges. Tens of thousands come to attend indeed it is considered a pilgrimage by the religious. A vast parade of thousands make their way through the city on one of the holiest days of the calendar in Bruges.

For completely different type of holiday to Belgium this Summer you might want to live it large at the Ostende Beach Dance Festival. Running for two rampant nights July 9-10 the beaches of northern Belgium will become the thumping heart of Europe. Don’t forget the Sunday will also have all the fallout from the Euro 2016 football Final so bear in mind the P&O Ferries crossing from Hull to Zeebrugge and Amsterdam will be lively indeed. Ostende’s Beach Dance Festival will have a large screen up for all the footie fans to gather around. Once the match is over commiserations and celebrations abound will surely make it a night too remember.

To book tickets for what’s surely going to be one of the best nights of the year book your trip now with P&O Ferries

Image Credit: OliBac , Martin Lindstrom , Brian Ledgard

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