Our friends Tinka, Sven and Sander asked Angelica and me to join them to the NUTS weekend at the Bastogne Barracks. Bastogne is always worth a visit, and I would like to make you discover one big seasonal event of Belgium in Bastogne. From our place in Hillensberg it’s only about a two hour drive. As a child my family went to Bastogne only once to do some shopping, as there’s a huge street market, where you can buy fresh food, fruits, vegetables, but also plants and flowers, biscuits and chocolates. Due to the tourists shopping or having dinner in Bastogne is not cheap ! Traditionally in mid-December Bastogne celebrates the commemoration of the Battle of the Bulge, which is the name of the horrible and frightful battles taking place in and around Bastogne, the Ardennes, northeast France and Luxembourg between December 16th 1944 and January 25th 1945. The second weekend of December is called “Nuts weekend” at the “Bastogne Barracks”. There are some exhibitions to visit, as well as the vehicle exhibition and vehicle restoration centre.
After a two hours drive and a coffee pitstop we arrived in Bastogne where we found a parking lot very quickly. My friends had plans to have a 12 km walk in the fields around Bastogne but it was very, very cold and a bit windy so we changed plans and visited some venues in the village with 15.000 inhabitants. In this particular weekend they even organize convoys through Bastogne and to other sites in the surroundings and many enthusiasts dressed in historical uniforms are present with or without vehicle.
We visited several halls where different vehicles such as tanks and jeeps were renovated. There were also buildings where people had reconstructed daily life during a war. You could see a lot of original stuff from that time. There were even people who walked around in original army clothes, such as a NAZI pastor. We also saw children’s toys from that time such as Playmobil but with specific war puppets. Congrats to all those volunteers to do their very best to perform such a realistic presentation to show what the circumstances have been like.
After visiting the military venue we headed to Bastogne centre to see the parade. In this parade some old soldiers were driven around in wheelchairs. These men must have been between 90-100 years old. The massive public along the road began to clap spontaneously for these war heroes. These men have ensured our liberation. The mental scars have dragged them all their lives. We had all the respect for these heroes. Then we looked for a local restaurant to eat something. In a shop we bought la Chouffe beer which we drank in our cozy AirBnb. We played card games the whole evening and it started snowing outside. What a great day in Bastogne! Absolutely to be recommended and to notice in your agenda for the next years.
Why is the weekend called: NUTS ?
In Bastogne the besieged garrison began to worry seriously about the slow advance of the 3rd army. General Anthony McAuliffe, the garrison commander, had confidently rejected an ultimatum by Heinrich von Lüttwitz on 22 December with a legendary short answer: “Nuts!“. The German general threatened to throw the city into ruins if the 101st Airborne Division did not surrender “honorably” within two hours. The American General McAuliffe found the ultimatum utterly absurd, for he was convinced that his troops were winning this battle against the Germans and he was not worried about the fact that they were surrounded.
Where to stay ?
Check this lovely, cozy Airbnb and get a local bottle of beer for free when you book this place: https://abnb.me/pDdiUJ6kDS