The Magic of Orchids – Basilica of Koekelberg, Brussels

By alison - February 6, 2012 (Updated: November 20, 2014)

Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

Orchids in the Basilica

With the cold and snow of the past few weeks, Brussels has been pretty monochromatic. If you’d like to spice up your winter with some colour, head over to the Basilica of Koekelberg before March 18th and check out the orchid show.

The interior of a church may not be the first place that comes to mind for staging a flower exhibition; and the Magie des Orchidées (Magic of Orchids) is more than just a few tables filled with plants. But somehow, the dramatically high ceilings and brilliant natural light of the Basilica of Koekelberg make this the perfect setting.

Last week, I made my way to the Basilica, with my friend Janice, from Colors of Brussels. We weren’t sure what to expect from the orchid show, but it certainly wasn’t what we found when we got there.

We arrived early on a weekday and basically had the exhibition to ourselves.

As we walked into the first section, we found ourselves in a museum of orchids. The flowers were displayed in individual niches with low lighting to emphasise the colour of each bloom. The setting was formal and dramatic.

Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

An Orchid museum in the Basilica
Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

Orchid on display

Stepping into the next section was a completely different experience. We found ourselves in front of a waterfall, erected inside the church, with more orchids surrounding the water garden.

Waterfall in the Basilica

A waterfall in the basilica… why not?

The next room consisted of elaborate, modern displays of orchids, many of which were suspended from the ceiling.

Contemporary Orchids

Contemporary Orchids

From there, we headed to a display of table settings. These were incredibly over-the-top; some in a good way, some, not so good, but fun nonetheless. We both remarked on the use of feathers and sparkles everywhere. We may not dress our own tables this way, but we both agreed, we’d love to be invited to a party that did.

Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

One of the less sparkly displays… We’d love to be invited to this party!

The grand finale of the orchid show was a café, set up to look like it was outside at a Kasbah. It came complete with a sailboat covered in orchids (we’re not sure why the boat was in the dessert, but never mind), a turtle pond, sand, and a Kasbah-like wall with giraffes peeking over. Yes, it was all a bit silly but fun just the same.

Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

A kasbah in Koekelberg
Magic of Orchids show at Koekelberg Basilica, Brussels

A beauty of a boat

Admission to the orchid show, also grants you access to the rooftop panorama of the Basilica. (Normally it cost 4€ to visit the rooftop). The Basilica of Koekelberg is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world, so it offers a great view.

It had been at least three years since I’ve visited the church, and I was happy to see they’ve installed a brand new glass elevator.

In my opinion, the view from the basilica is still one of the best in Brussels. On a clear day, you can see Grand Place, the Atomium, and many of the city’s other churches and landmarks.

View from the Basilica of Koekelberg

The best view of Brussels for my money

It was a lovely morning out, to brighten up our cold winter days. Don’t miss this little splash of colour and enjoy the beautiful orchids.

It’s easy to reach the Basilica of Koekelberg via metro. Take the metro to the end of the line at Simonis and then just walk straight up the park to the front of the Basilica.

Admission (Includes Panorama)
Adults € 8.50, senior citizens € 7.50, children € 2,50

Opening Times
Monday-Saturday from 10 am – 7 pm
Sundays from 1 – 7 pm (last ticket at 6 pm)

For even more photos from the orchid show, be sure to check out our Facebook Page and like us for updates.

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Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by Tez

    Tez February 7, 2012 at 09:29

    Gorgeous! I love orchids – they’re one of my most favourite flowers. 🙂

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison February 7, 2012 at 09:36

      Thanks Tez! I love them too and they are definitely popular here. I bet you have some incredible flower shows in your part of the world!

  2. Comment by Johanna Bradley

    Johanna Bradley February 8, 2012 at 20:40

    Deserved an RT. What a stunning venue. So nice to find something different like this. Will look out for the Basilica if I’m ever in Brussels.

    • Comment by Alison


      Alison February 9, 2012 at 09:56

      Thanks Johanna. I really love this basilica. It’s not to everyone’s taste but I love the clean lines and open spaces. I think it’s wonderful they use it for events and exhibitions like this as well.

  3. Pingback: 10 Free Things to do in Brussels | Expat Life in Belgium, Travel and Photography | CheeseWeb

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