February is the middle of winter in Belgium and one of the coldest months of the year, although it's ever-so-slightly warmer than January. Although Belgium is quite a small country, its climate varies between coastal, inland, and highland areas.
Coastal Flanders (the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium) tends to be the warmest/mildest region, with a maritime climate that tempers extremes of cold or heat. On the other hand, the southern, inland Ardennes hill and forest region are the coldest, with more snow and fog in winter. Capital city Brussels is inland, so it has more of a continental climate than coastal cities like Bruges or Antwerp, but it still doesn't experience frigid temperatures in February. Brussels sees an average high temperature of 44°F (7°C) in February and a low of 34°F (1°C).
Crowds & Costs
February is the low season for travel to Belgium. It's a great time to come if you're on a budget because accommodation prices will be relatively low. You may find a good deal on hotels in popular destinations (such as Ghent, Bruges, or Antwerp) that would be expensive in the summer or booked out months in advance. And although it's the off season, you can still expect most cultural facilities in the cities to be operating.
The brief exception to the low-season quietness is during the Binche Carnival near the southern city of Charleroi. This is one of the oldest street carnivals in Europe and draws thousands of visitors. It's held during the three days preceding Lent, so the date can be in February or March, depending on the timing of Easter. If you want to see this festival, book accommodation in advance.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Where to Go
Whether you're a history buff or enjoy a giant street party, there are various reasons to head to Binche in February (or March, depending on the timing of Lent and Easter). The town in southern Belgium, near the city of Charleroi, hosts one of the oldest street carnivals in Europe, dating back to the Middle Ages. The boisterous parades, wacky costumes, and local Belgian beer guarantee a good time, whatever the weather.
Brussels is a great destination in February for culture and food enthusiasts alike. Shelter from cold, gray winter weather in the six museums of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium: the Oldmasters Museum, the Magritte Museum, the Fin-de-Siècle Museum, the Modern Museum, the Antoine Wiertz Museum, and the Constantin Meunier Museum.
When you've had your fill of fine art, head to the Salon du Chocolat, as long as you time your visit to Brussels right. This three-day festival is a dream come true for chocoholics as it features hundreds of chefs, chocolatiers, confectioners, and lots of demos, workshops, lectures, and tastings.
What to Do
Ice skating is a popular local pastime in Belgium, a carry-over from when the winters were colder and natural water bodies were more likely to freeze. Nowadays, you can still enjoy a spin on a constructed rink (such as that at Brussels' Plaisirs d'Hiver) or a frozen section of a canal. Still, if you visit smaller towns or villages this month, you may be able to skate on a frozen lake. Skating rinks typically rent out skates.
For more outdoor winter activities, have a go at cross-country skiing in the Ardennes. Ski through forests and marshlands in the hilly area on a guided tour that will teach you the fundamentals of the sport, or head to the Nordic Ski Centre in Samrée, close to the border with Luxembourg.
Events in February
BRAFA Art Fair, Brussels. Explore the art scene in January and February, celebrating fine arts, antiques, and design during this eight-day festival.
Bright Brussels, Brussels. A light festival in February with playful light installations brightens the gray days.
Carnival of Binche, Binche. This three-day carnival before the start of Lent features street performers, dances, and costumed processions.
Salon du Chocolat, Brussels. Three days of all things chocolate in mid-February, including demos, tastings, and talks.