Thursday, 15 August, is a public holiday in Belgium, the feast day of the Assumption, when according to Catholic doctrine Mary, the mother of Christ, was taken up into Heaven without having died first – a sign of her special place in the eyes of God.
Many people will have the day off work, and some will even be allowed to bridge the four-day weekend. Assuming you have some extra time on your hands, what is there to do?
Public service workers at all levels of government will have the day off, so there will be nobody manning the municipal administration on Thursday, while local authorities make their own decision as to working on Friday. Your local commune’s website should give that information.
Public libraries will be closed on Thursday but open again on Friday and Saturday. Container parks are closed on Thursday but open on Friday, as are banks. Rubbish collection will go ahead as normal on Friday and Saturday where applicable.
Post offices will be closed on Thursday and Friday, and open where applicable on Saturday. Letter delivery will not take place on Thursday or Friday, but parcels, newspapers and magazines will be delivered as usual on Friday.
Public transport will operate a special public holiday timetable, similar to a normal Sunday schedule, on Thursday, and return to the current school holiday timetable on Friday. That applies to the Stib in Brussels, TEC in Wallonia and De Lijn in Flanders. The rail authority SNCB will run a Sunday timetable on Thursday and reduce peak-hour trains on Friday. A strike is due to take place by members of the independent union SIC on Saturday, so whatever timetable is in operation then is likely to be disrupted.
On Thursday, doctors and hospitals operate a Sunday schedule, with hospitals performing only emergency operations. If you need a doctor, contact the duty service, which can be done by calling your own doctor’s office after which your call will be redirected to the locum service. Friday will be a normal working day.
In the private sector, supermarkets will be closed on Thursday, though local shops like Carrefour Express and Delhaize Proxy will open as usual, as will independent shops. Shops will also be open in the permitted zones in the centre of cities like Brussels and Antwerp.
Most museums will be open as usual, though it’s worth checking to be sure. Theme parks like Walibi and Plopsaland, as well as animal parks Planckendael and Pairi Daiza and the Antwerp Zoo, will all be open on Thursday and Friday as usual.