Introduction

Hasselt celebrates its fame as Belgium’s unofficial jenever (gin) capital with a gin festival and the Nationaal Jenevermuseum, housed in a beautifully restored, still-active 19th-century distillery. The highlight of the festival is when the town's little Borrelmanneke (barrel-carrying man) fountain is briefly re-plumbed to flow with jenever. It is on the Brussels–Leuven–Tongeren and Antwerp–Lier–Liège train routes.

Otherwise the region’s main attraction is Bokrijk, a vast series of provincial parks and woodlands (open year-round, admission free) between Hasselt and Genk. These incorporate a splendid arboretum and the 60-hectare Bokrijk Openluchtmuseum, one of Europe’s largest open-air museums, offering a nostalgic look at Flanders’ past with over 100 original old buildings reassembled here in 1958.