“Things to Do in Gent with Kids” is a series of three articles. Part 1 includes information on sports and recreation, as well as meeting other families. Part 2 discusses museums and the Arts. Part 3 shares ways to explore the city, visit historical sites, and stay informed about current events.
There are many things to do in Gent with kids … if you know where to look for them. When I first moved here I didn’t, so I hope sharing what I have learned since then will help you in your search! Here are my favorite cultural and artistic things to do with kids in Gent.
Visit a Museum
Gent has many wonderful museums, and some are specifically designed for children.
Museums for Children
The Schoolhoeve de Campagne, or, the School Farm, is a great place to get outside of the city center for a bit and enjoy nature, especially if your child loves animals. This is an educational farm and petting zoo where you can spend time with the animals and learn about farming.
De wereld van Kina Natuurmuseum (The World of Kina) is one museum that operates out of two separate locations (het Huis and de Tuin) that contain separate exhibits and collections.
De wereld van Kina: het Huis (the House) has exhibits on nature, biology, and a bit of Gent history. A six-to-eight-meter model of Gent, complete with sound and light, shows what the city was like under the rule of Charles V. Other exhibits explore rocks, minerals, fossils, shells, insects, dinosaurs, birds, mammals, evolution, human anatomy, human relationships, and human sexuality.
The museum is for children and teenagers, so you may want to prepare in advance for the exhibits on human anatomy, relationships, and sexuality. As parents, we all have our own opinions on how we want to educate our children on these topics, and at what age. I found the information to be well-presented, but at varying levels of age-appropriateness.
You can preview descriptions of each museum section here and get information about the museum layout when you enter. The entrance to the exhibits covering the human biology topics (“‘K Zag 2 Beren” and “Goede Minnaars”) is hard to miss, or easy to avoid, depending on your preference.
De wereld van Kina: de Tuin (the Garden), as you might expect by its name, has more outdoor exhibits than het Huis, including botanical gardens and a sensory garden for younger children. There are plenty of indoor exhibits as well, on spiders, honey bees, mushrooms, flowers, vegetables, bread, and other plants.
The Square.Gent has an additional review of The World of Kina museums at this link.
I have found all of Gent’s museums to be child-friendly. I recommend that when you visit, you ask for any brochures, maps, or materials required for special children’s tours and activities if they aren’t given to you automatically. Sometimes these materials are only available in Dutch. Since my son and I primarily speak English, we have experienced museum employees who assumed we wouldn’t want them, but we are trying to learn Dutch, so bring it on!
The Huis Van Alijn is a cultural heritage museum that chronicles everyday life in the 20th century. They offer a variety of tours and activities for children, like treasure hunts, each targeted to different age groups.
STAM is the Gent city museum which tells the history of Gent. STAM has activities available for kids including an activity guide featuring “Cuberdanny,” audio tours, and guided tours. The permanent exhibit has an interactive room with a giant picture of Gent on the glass floor which is fun for kids to explore. Older children may also be intrigued by the exhibit that dramatically tells the mystery surrounding “The Bold Theft” in 1934 of two panels of the Ghent Altarpiece/Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, one of which (“The Just Judges”) remains missing to this day. They also have an awesome Lego play area!
The MSK – Museum Voor Schone Kunsten (Museum of Fine Arts) – has a number of workshops, studios, and activities for kids, some of which require reservations and some of which can be done on the spot. They are listed on their website here.
S.M.A.K., the Museum of Contemporary Art, also has workshops (registration required) and kid-friendly guides for their exhibitions.
The MIAT museum of industry, labor, and textiles has museum games for children when they visit, as well as workshops and camps (registration required). My son has enjoyed a variety of hands-on printing and letterpress workshops here.
Special Days and Events at Museums
Many of the museums in Gent hold events and activities for children on Erfgoeddag (Heritage Day) and Kunstendag voor Kinderen (Arts Day for Children), as well as during all the traditional Belgian school holidays.
I recommend following the museums’ websites and social media pages, and signing up for their email newsletters if they have them (check their websites), to get their latest news and events sent straight to your inbox and newsfeeds.
One final thought on the museums – almost all of them offer options for birthday parties for children, so be sure to keep them in mind for future birthday party planning!
Enjoy the Arts
Beyond the museums, you can enjoy the Arts with your children in other ways.
De Bijloke concert music venue offers a variety of deFilharmonie (Royal Flemish Philharmonic) concerts for kids with optional accompanying musical workshops. Concert tickets and workshop registrations are handled separately through the Bijloke website. You can find a list of children’s concerts here.
The Spekken Kindertheaterfestival offers theater and arts performances for children during Easter and Christmas holidays.
The Gentse Feesten and the Ghent Festival of Flanders also include Gent’s youngest residents in their fun by providing some child-friendly programming. Watch their official sites and programs for more details.
If this series has missed a “thing to do” with kids, please share with me (and our readers) in the comments below!