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Roll on festival season in Belgium! Check out some of the grooviest gatherings this summer

Cirque Magique Bossuit Castle
12:14 28/06/2022
It promises to be a vintage season for festivals of all stripes as after a couple of years of Covid disruption, Belgium is ready to rock. Here’s The Bulletin’s guide to some of the best music, arts and family-friendly events around

Festival Musical de Namur  The theme of this year’s classical music series Festivals of Wallonia is ‘It’s A Mad World’, reflecting how ‘madness’ seems to have contributed to artistic works throughout history. The summer-long programme in Namur offers a range of musical styles, from baroque and jazz, to classical, tango, contemporary and world music. Until 11 September, multiple venues, Namur 

Festival de l’Eěteě Mosan (1)

Festival de l’Été Mosan  This musical journey from the 17th to the 20th century boasts a picturesque backdrop with beautiful old stone churches, priories and fortresses along the Meuse river serving as concert venues. The Summer Festival offers chamber music and symphonic music; each concert is unique and chosen for the quality of its performers. Until 21 August, Meuse valley 

The Bruxellons Festival

The Bruxellons Festival  Proudly presenting 18 different French-language shows, one highlight of this summer theatrical pageant is the musical masterpiece Elisabeth, tracing the fascinating life of a mythical empress who risks everything for freedom. The festival is a city summer favourite, offering a perfect evening out, complete with a pre-show buffet to enjoy in a wonderful water-side setting. Until 27 September, Château du Karreveld, Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, Brussels

Festival de Stavelot (1)

The Festival de Stavelot  Some dozen chamber music concerts are performed in the magnificent ancient setting of a former Benedictine abbey. Part of the Festivals of Wallonia and staged now for over 60 years, these live performances of chamber music are an opportunity to discover the heritage site as well as listen to beautiful chamber music, from ancient and romantic to contemporary works. Until 14 August, Stavelot (Liège province) 

Lokerse Feesten  If you’re looking for a solid line-up on a rather more human scale than the giant festivals, don’t miss this city festival near Ghent. Black Eyed Peas (pictured), Snow Patrol and Judas Priest are a few names at the 10-day event this year, and it’s veritable who’s-who of local talent. Until 14 August, Lokeren

(c)Courtesy Antilliaanse Feesten

Antilliaanse Feesten  Cocktails and Caribbean music both flow in abundance at this fun and upbeat festival. Internationals bands with roots in Cuba, Chile, Curacao and other Caribbean locales take the stage amid foods from many cultures and Cuban cigars. ¡Diviértete! 11-13 August, Hoogstraten (Antwerp province)

Cirque Magique  Buy now if you hope to attend this small-scale electronic music festival on the beautiful grounds of Bossuit Castle on the southern border of West Flanders (pictured, main image). As the name suggests, performers like fire artists and stilt walkers are also on hand. A shuttle bus runs between the site and Kortrijk train station. 12-14 August, Avelgem (West Flanders)

Alcatraz (c)Claus Christa 2

Alcatraz  Bang your head at Alcatraz, the big metal fest in Kortrijk. Bands range from British glam rockers The Darkness to US metalcore flagbearers As I Lay Dying and the critically acclaimed new metal group Vended. That band was founded by offspring of members of Slipknot – which are themselves playing Pukkelpop this year (see below). 12-14 August, Kortrijk

Jazz Middelheim (c)Maarten Mellemans

Jazz Middelheim  Boundaries are fluid at Antwerp’s laid-back festival, where you’ll find jazz infused avant-garde, rock and club sounds. Groove to the jams under the marquee or plop down in a lounge chair on the vast expanse of grass to hear musicians like Iggy Pop, Jef Neve and the Fred Hersch Trio. 12-15 August, Park Van Den Brandt, Antwerp

Théâtres Nomades Four days of street theatre in one of Brussels’ prime green spaces, this eclectic and free festival will entertain all ages. Although it has evolved over the years, the popular event remains committed to its original nomadic character and a programme that’s environmentally and socially engaged. It brings together 35 companies from various artistic disciplines, such as theatre, circus, storytelling, puppetry and dance and showcases in particular emerging Belgian talents as well as international artists. 18-21 August, Bois de la Cambre, Brussels

Pukkelpop  While Rock Werchter is completely sold out, there are still tickets to be had for Flanders’ other giant music festival, which falls later in the summer. The line-up is, as always, endless, with Arctic Monkeys, Slipknot, Selah Sue and Limp Bizkit a few stand-out names. 18-21 August, Kiewit (Hasselt)

Chassepierre

The Festival International des Arts de la Rue Family favourite Chassepierre returns for its 48th edition: two days of entertaining theatre, circus, dance and music. Familiar childhood stories will be told in an engaging way, promising a magical weekend for children and adults in this beautiful village in the Gaume region. 20-21 August, Chassepierre (Luxeumbourg province)

Feeërieën & Botterhammen in de Stad  Ancienne Belgique’s evening concert series returns to the stunning Gare Maritime at Tour & Taxis for its 2022 edition. Promising a musical smorgasbord, with weird synthesizer pop, a dance concert and Ethiopian jazz, we’re all waiting for confirmation of the final line-up. New this year, is a programme of fringe activities and workshops on the AB summer terrace. Sister event Boterhammen in de Stad is also at the Gare Maritime, an opportunity to discover Dutch-language groups every lunchtime. 22-26 August, Tour & Taxis, Brussels

(c)Courtesy Maanrock 2

Maanrock  For its 25th anniversary, this free music festival in Mechelen is opening its main stage a day early. A showcase of Flemish bands, from rock to pop to electronic, this festival takes place on multiple stages across the historic city. It’s crowded – but it’s worth it. 26-28 August, across Mechelen

Les Solidariteės  (1)

Les Solidarités Dedicated to a multicultural mix and creating a fairer and united society, this annual festival boasts one of the best locations atop Namur’s splendid citadel. More than 40 artists will be taking to four stages, including Clara Luciani, Grand Corps Malade, Benjamin Biolay and Gaëtan Roussel. For younger spectators, there’s a ‘cité des enfants’. Shuttle service laid on to the site from the station and city centre. 26-28 August, Esplanade, Namur

Fire is Gold  One of the last hurrahs in Belgium’s festival summer is Fire is Gold, a music festival for sure but one that also celebrates hip-hop and rap culture in all its many forms, be it fashion, sport or diversity. Aside from the day-long line-up of local and international musicians and DJs are a tattoo studio, skatepark and debates. Dress comfortably – but cool. 3 September, Antwerp

Written by Lisa Bradshaw, Sarah Crew, Juliette Rommen