If you have some time off over the All Saints holiday week, consider a drive to the Ardennes for the Saint Hubert Festival. Held annually on November 3, the event commemorates the canonization of Hubert, patron saint of hunters.It was on one of his frequent hunts back in the 700s that Hubert is said to have had a religious experience that changed his life.Just at the point of bagging an impressive stag, Hubert had a vision of a crucifix and heard a voice imploring him to seek the counsel of his friend Lambert, who was Bishop of Tongres-Maastricht.From that point forward, Hubert dedicated himself to good works and became the first bishop of Liège and, eventually, that city’s patron saint.Though Hubert was initially buried in Saint Peter’s Church in Liège, his remains were transferred in 925 to Andage en Ardenne, later Saint-Hubert.
The day’s festivities kick off there at 9:00 with an artisanal market set up outside of the town’s basilica.To contribute to the atmosphere, hunt masters outfitted in traditional red coats, black hats and boots will wander through the crowds, horns at the ready.Mass is celebrated beginning at 11:00, immediately followed by the blessing of the animals. Grab lunch in town – maybe picking up some locally produced items at the festival market – and stick around until 13:00 to watch the start of an equestrian rally.
It is a beautiful time of year to visit the Ardennes, so why not combine a day of leaf-crunching rambling with this intriguing bit of Belgian folklore?(A few other towns, including Aubel, Dinant, Esneux, and Wegnez, will honor Saint Hubert on Sunday, November 6.)