06/15/2013 10:25 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Belgium's Bizarre and Beloved Festivals

"The Venice of the North" and one of Europe's most visited historical cities, Bruges is where our 8-day self guided cycling tour of Belgium begins. Quiet, paved country roads, and a combination of former tow/dike paths and train beds allow you to enjoy varied landscapes in a safe way. Signposts make maps unnecessary; however we provide you with clear road descriptions and maps. To help you turn your self-guiding cycling vacation into a Pure Adventure, we found four of Belgium's most beloved - and offbeat - festivals.

Carnival of Binche

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="392"] Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]

"There is no place like Binche in the world", so goes the famous quote and you are apt to agree if taking part in the Carnival of Binche in Belgium. While the origins of the carnival are mysterious, the legend of a Gille descendant from the Incas dressing in an elaborate costume in the days leading up to Lent has survived centuries. As one of Europe's oldest street festivals, Carnival of Binche is a part of UNESCO's List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the parades, musicians costumes and most inportantly the folklore of this event will astound you. The next Carnival of Binche begins March 2, 2014.

International Regatta of Bathtubs

Aspiring bathtub captains rejoice! The International Regatta of Bathtubs now heading into its 29th year, pits creative sailers against each other to see who can build the beat boat out of - you guessed it - a bathtub. Originally dreamed up as a gimmick to drive tourists to the sleepy town of Dinant, an hour away from Brussels, the International Regatta of Bathtubs is a race known more for elaborate bathtubs boats and costumes than speed since no motors are permitted. Grab a famous Belgium beer or coffee and join  thousands of spectators for the offbeat festival. August 15, 2013.

Christmas Beer Festival

It's a bucket list item for any beer lover - Belgium's Christmas Beer Festival! With over 170 bottled beers and 20 draught beers to sample, the Obejective Beer Tasters Essen Region hosts nearly 3000 visitors each Christmas in Essen, Belgium. Sure, the glasses you drink from are returnable, but we think keeping one or two as a souvenir is a good idea. Named one of the top beer festivals in the world by Pure Travel, the next Christmas Beer Festival Essen takes place December 15 and 16, 2013.

Tour of Flanders

From its humble beginnings in 1913 as a race intended to boost the circulation of the sports-focused newspaper Sportwereld to today's epic bicycling race, the Tour of Flanders celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. Definitively Belgium's most important cycling race and the most important held on a single-day, Tour of Flanders organizers go above and beyond to hold a world class event just as thrilling for spectators as it is for the pro-riders who participate. Held in early April, we think it's worth taking the money you saved by booking a self-guided vacation and splurging on one of of the VIP spectator packages like the lavish 3X Oude Kwaremont VIP-lunch or Breakfast at Belfry Halls. Dates for the 2014 have not yet been set as of writing.