May is spring in Belgium, and the weather is generally warm and sunny. Despite being a small country, Belgium's climate varies between the coastal, inland, and highland areas. Coastal Flanders (the Flemish-speaking northern region of Belgium) tends to be the mildest region, with a maritime climate that tempers extremes of cold or heat. On the other hand, the southern, inland Ardennes is cooler.
Brussels is inland, so has more of a continental climate than coastal cities like Bruges or Antwerp, meaning warmer summers and colder winters. Brussels sees an average high temperature of 64°F (18°C) in May and a low of 48°F (9°C).
Crowds & Costs
May is shoulder season for travel to Belgium. You may be able to get a good deal on accommodation in the slower period between Easter and summer. While costs are still generally low, the cities of Brussels and Ghent, in particular, are quite popular weekend destinations throughout spring, both with locals and other European travelers. If you're wanting a lower-cost city break in a Belgian city, aim for midweek to keep costs lower.
Bruges' Procession of the Holy Blood festival (see more below) draws around 40,000 visitors to the coastal city every May, so book accommodation and transport in advance if you want to see this spectacle.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Where to Go
There are good reasons to visit attractive Bruges in any month, but May is an especially good time as you can see the UNESCO-listed Procession of the Holy Blood. This parade dates back to the 13th century and is held 40 days after Easter. It commemorates the time when a citizen of Bruges is said to have brought the Relic of the Holy Blood of Christ back from the Second Crusade.
If you travel to Bruges for this event, extend your stay to check out the historic coastal city's many other attractions. Take a boat tour on the canals, check out the beautiful architecture on a walking or bicycle tour (the 13th-century Church of Our Lady is a highlight), and learn about Flemish art at the Groeningemuseum.
What to Do
May is a delightful time in Belgium for flower and nature lovers. While many flowers start blooming in March and April, by May, a wide range of colorful varieties can be seen. There are many ways to experience the flowers, so wherever you are in Belgium, you won't be far from something pretty. See rhododendrons at Borrekens Castle near Antwerp, thousands of yellow buttercups at Zevenbergenbos in Ranst, pale purple wisteria hanging at the Kruidtuin Leuven botanical gardens, poppies and wildflowers at the Chateau de Leignon in Wallonia, and more.
Belgium has adopted the tradition of guinguettes—wooden drinks stalls in city parks—from neighboring France, and these open for business in May, in anticipation of the long, light summer evenings. Head to a park to find your new favorite Belgian beer—even better if it's a park blooming with spring flowers.
Events in May
Procession of the Holy Blood, Bruges. A historic Crusades-era procession that's included on UNESCO's intangible culture list, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Iris Festival, Brussels. With DJs pumping electronic music, street art, circus performance, dance, art, and magic, the city comes alive for the whole family in May.
Floralia, Groot-Bijgaarden. This flower show at the castle of Groot-Bijgaarden has 400 varieties of tulips blooming in May, in addition to other spring blossoms.