In 1393, Philip the Bold decided to hold an annual fair in Tielt, which resulted in the city becoming the booming centre of the flax industry until the end of the 16th century. The following decades, however, were hard on Tielt as it went through two major fires and a couple of epidemics, including the plague. Tielt also went through a severe famine at the end of the 17th century. From about 1700 until the Belgian Revolution of 1830, the city prospered again, this time as a regional center for the construction industry.
During World War I, the city became the headquarters for the German army. The bombing of the Second World War was a lot more destructive. Most of the city centre had to be rebuilt. Today Tielt is a typical province town, which offers commercial, medical and educational services to the surrounding region.
Every year, on the first week-end of July, the city celebrates the Europafeesten (feast of Europe). This is the occasion for a braderie (a street clearance sale), street theatre, a blues festival, fireworks, and of course, expanded café terraces for further merriment.