"The content of this article has been gathered from the book 'LEUVEN,' authored by Eric Mic and published in 2023."
1. Leuven Fair
A classic. The annual September fair on Ladeuzeplein and Herbert Hooverplein offers attractions that have lasted for generations: colliding cars, carousels ducks that you can fish and stalls selling smoutebollen and waffles - not to mention cotton candy or barbapapa. Loud, colorful and animated.
2. Skate parks
Close to the Sportoase swimming pool and the city cemetery, the outdoor skate park along the Geldenaaksebaan has been making several generations of young and not-so-young Leuven residents happy.
Since 2018, the local skate community can also visit the Stelplaats indoor park to show off flips, grabs and grinds. On this former site of De Lijn (Diestsepoort 15) you will also find a bar, a restaurant, a nightclub, a screen printing studio, rehearsal rooms for musicians and much more: it is a 'raw space' for youth culture.
(Check stelplaats.be and minleuven.be, the site of the Leuven Youth Service).
The concrete track of the skate park in the 't Fort district was given a new design, as was the colourful basketball court. Classic skate parks can also be found at two locations in Kessel-Lo: in the Casablanca district (Prins Regentlaan) and along the Diestsesteenweg near the Boudewijn Stadium.
3. SpeelOdroom - (Ravenstraat 69)
A meeting place for children under four years old. where they can play together with their parents or supervisors. SpeelOdroom is a maison verte, based on the model that the French psychoanalyst Françoise Dolto devised in 1979 to allow young parents to share their experiences of growing up and raising children in a relaxed atmosphere. Here, children make a gentle transition from home to daycare and from daycare to school in a multilingual, open environment.
The space is furnished to a child's size with baby toys, balance bikes, books, cars, a slide and a sandbox. The supervisors welcome the visitors with coffee and tea. T
he initiative has existed since 2008 , works with volunteers and is a partner of the network organization Huis van het Kind. SpeelOdroom is open on Tuesday and Friday mornings (and every first Saturday of the month).
4. Circus in Motion
In 1993, Cirkus in Beweging started as the first studio in Flanders with several circus lessons, workshops and performances. Thirty years later, the association has 1,000 members and is one of the largest educational circus houses in Europe.
An international youth circus festival was created called CirkOOH! CirKAAH! and in 2010 a real circus humaniora, in collaboration with the Royal Atheneum Redingenhof. (In 2020, the humanities moved to the Lemmens Institute.) Since 2017, the annual CIRKL festival has taken place in May. Generations of children from Leuven have passed by what is known in the corridors as 'the circus school'. Cirkus in Beweging has lived at Erasme Ruelensvest 127 since 2005, in and around the former chapel of a monastery.
The site was built in 1937 according to a design by Victor Broos in a style between art deco and modernism, and is today being extensively restored with an eye to an acrobatic future.
5 . The fountain on Herbert Hooverplein
Water fun is always great on hot summer days. For this you can go to Herbert Hooverplein, where the street plan of Leuven as drawn by the Dutch cartographer Jacob van Deventer in 1550 is incorporated into the natural stone floor. The fountain has a diameter of 18 meters and is discreetly illuminated.
She sprays mist and water, which you also see rippling through the city. Sensors measure the crowds on the square: the more people, the more dynamically the fountain rises.
The fountain is part of a project that makes the historic city walls visible again. The eleven gates of the first ring wall are gradually marked with illuminated strips of corten steel.
This first defence belt was built around 1160, was almost 3 kilometres long and had 31 towers. Many remains have been preserved, especially in the city park, in the Handbooghof and on the Hertogensite. Because the city was bursting at the seams, a new one was built two centuries later much larger wall was built that would only be completed after the First World War. The current city ring follows his route.
Source: MIN, Eric, LEUVEN ,( Een gids voor thuisblijvers en passanten), Luster, 2023.
Photos by Aslı Tezcan