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What’s on this week: 1 to 7 September

10:30 31/08/2023
End-of-summer festival fever - from tasty beers and Latino sounds to kid-friendly entertainment - plus the launch of the contemporary art season

With more than 500 beers on offer from 50 breweries, visitors will be spoilt for choice at the Belgian Beer Weekend. From small-scale family operations to big name brands, it’s a rare opportunity to sample different tipples, although it’s best you pace yourself! Naturally, the atmosphere leans toward the convivial. Saturday and Sunday lunchtime crowds will be treated to traditional parades by brewers. 1-3 September, Friday 18.00-22.30; Saturday 12.00-22.30; Sunday 12.00-20.00, Grand Place

Fiesta Latina

The biggest and the hottest Latin American festival in town takes over Bois de Cambre for its 20th edition. Three stages host three different musical worlds at Fiesta Latina, from energetic salsa and festive merengue to reggaeton, Brazilian funk and afrobeat. As well as Latino rhythms, enjoy the colour, traditions and tastes of South America with dance classes, thrilling Mexican wrestling and catch sessions, parades, percussion artists, fire throwers and capoeira and carnival shows. Warning: tickets are selling fast! 1-3 September, Bois de la Cambre (Carrefour des Attelages)

(c)Courtesy Forest Sounds Festival 2

Taking place this year on the lovely grounds of the Forest Abbey, the Forest Sounds Festival is a super event for families by day and for party-goers by night. There are kid-friendly entertainments in the afternoons, but the focus is really on the four stages of music, from world rhythms to electro beats. Food trucks and bars ensure you’re taken care of all day and night. 1-2 September, Abbaye de Forest, Place Saint Denis


Three new exhibitions open at Botanique. Every Minute Is Lettered by Boris Thiébaut is a series of large-format drawings on paper that fuse poetically art brut, graphic art and comic strip. Paranoptique by Aymeraude du Couëdic sees the Brussels-based French artist employ charcoal in her installations (pictured) and convey a sense of paranoia as viewers enter inside the installations to assess their own role in society. Diffraction by Alexandra Mein is a series of sculptures combining organic forms and pure structures with an unfinished aspect that is open to interpretation. 2 September to 29 October, Botanique, Rue Royale 236 (Saint-Josse)

Cancel Comedy Culture

Romanian-born comedian Victor Patrascan bills himself as a pretentious stand up and outrageous social commentator who is travelling through Europe telling jokes. The London-based funny man stops off in Brussels to deliver his Cancel Culture Comedy show, which tackles controversial topics such as race, gender, religion and identity politics. He’s joined onstage by Dutch comedian Diederik Zuurmond. 3 September 19.00, La Plume Persée, Rue Sans Souci 51 (Ixelles)

Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and Oksana Lyniv (c)Andrea Ranzi

The Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine presents Lost Childhood, a concert dedicated to children living in war zones. Joined by a children’s choir and soloists, the symphony will perform the world premiere of Daddy’s Book, an oratorio by Evgeni Orkin based on the diary and poems of Ukrainian activist and children’s book author Volodymyr Vakulenko. Famed Ukrainian conductor Oksana Lyniv will lead the concert, and proceeds go to organisations that support young musicians. 5 September 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

(c)Courtesy Korean Cultural Center

What was previously a comparison between Belgian and Korean comics has now expanded to become the EU-Korean Comic Strips Exhibition, putting graphics novelists from here and there next to each other. As the title Pop the Bubbles, Blur the Boundaries suggests, there are more similarities in style, content and sensibilities than there are differences. 6 September to 29 December, Korean Cultural Center, Rue de la Regence 4

Helen Thompson (c)Courtesy Bozar

“If you’re writing something that doesn’t offend anyone then you’re probably writing bad work.” From American author Lionel Shriver to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, you can say this about Bozar’s Writers & Thinkers programme: It offers up some of the most interesting personalities in the modern world. The new season kicks off this week with an interview with Cambridge University political economy professor Helen Thompson (pictured), who will talk about the transition to renewable energy and its impact on global geopolitics. 7 September 19.30, Rue Ravenstein 23

C L E A R I N G _Julia Yerger_Untitled_2023_Watercolor and oil on canvas_© Paul Salveson_3

Kicking off the contemporary art season, Brussels Gallery Weekend (BGW) is a showcase of the capital’s lively art scene. With 45 galleries participating in the event’s 16th edition, plus 14 institutions in an off programme and a busy schedule of talks, performances and tours, it’s a perfect opportunity to explore art in the capital. Generation Brussels is an exhibition by emerging artists who don’t yet have gallery representation. To navigate your way around the venues, divided into different neighbourhoods, download BGW’s 2023 map or pick up a copy at the Meeting Point. It’s also possible to book a guide. 7-10 September, multiple locations around the city; Meeting Point Rue du Prévôt 82 (Ixelles)


Following dates at the Belgian coast, Cirque du Soleil opens its big top show Kurios in Brussels. The Canadian contemporary circus/theatre phenomenon presents awe-inspiring acts that are all part of a steampunk world of retro-futuristic inventions. The cabinet of curiosities thematic offers all kinds of characters, funny antics and slick acrobatics. Choreography is by Belgian contemporary dance-maker Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and European folk and jazz are the inspiration for the set designs and music. Until 5 November, next to Palais 12 (Laeken)

Outside Brussels

(c)Courtesy Vistival

If you like fish, you’ll like Vistival, a weekend event in Ostend dedicated to what comes out of the North Sea. Along with all the food stands are kids’ entertainment and concerts, with the chance to dance along with the locals to some easy listening, cover bands and, interestingly, drag queens. 2-3 September, Cardijnplein, Ostend

(c)Courtesy Highlight Festival 2

Popular Flemish musicians are on stage during the Highlight Festival Live in Ypres. Pop star Niels Destadsbader, 1990s fave Mama’s Jasje (complete with new work), Eurodance chart-topper Gene Thomas and DJ Drummer Michael Shack. Day two turns into Highlight Festival: The Magical Forest of Lepidoptera, where the stages turn to electro, techno and dance music – Ypres’ own little Tomorrowland. 1-2 September, Zuiderring 401, Ypres


Belgium’s biggest organic fair Valériane is at Namur Expo this weekend, filled with stands presenting their wares in various sectors: food, garden, health, crafts, eco-building etc. Each one is carefully selected by organiser Nature & Progrès. The fair also runs a packed programme of talks and workshops. 1-3 September 10.00-19.00, Avenue Sergent Vrithoff 2, Salzinnes (Namur)

Celtic days-85

Belgium is staging its own version of the world-famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo this weekend, albeit on a slightly smaller scale. Sound and light extravaganza, the P'Thy Tattoo Show, is part of this year’s Celtic Days. The second edition of the musical jamboree invites guest of honour the Principality of Asturia, as region in northwest Spain. Expect parades and performances by pipe bands from Belgium, Scotland and Brittany, harp concerts, Celtic concerts and initiation sessions and shows by Asturian, Breton, Scottish and Irish tap dancers. Meanwhile, customs, gastronomy and exceptional beverages feature fromy each region. And discover the ‘clandestine’ weddings or ceremonies of Gretna Green in Scotland. 2-3 September, Thy-le-Château historic centre, Walcourt (Namur province)


The inaugural edition of NAOW Festival  is the first floating festival in Belgium dedicated to theatre, poetry and music. Hosted by summer pop-up The Flow on the banks of the River Meuse in the Walloon capital of Namur, the Nature Arts On Water event promises an intimate and offbeat experience. Sound and light shows, a range of music (via individual headsets) and artistic events are all presented from the watery stage. You can also book dinner to enjoy during the entertainment. Until 3 September, Boulevard de Meuse 160, Jambes (Namur)

Photos: ©Courtesy Brussels Beer Festival; ©Courtesy Forest Sounds Festival; Paranoptique ©Aymeraude du Couëdic; Youth Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and Oksana Lyniv ©Andrea Ranzi; ©Courtesy Korean Cultural Center; Helen Thompson ©Courtesy Bozar; C L E A R I N G Julia Yerger Untitled 2023 W ©Paul Salveson; Kurios ©Mmathew Tsang; ©Courtesy Vistival; ©Courtesy Highlight Festival; ©NAOW Festival


Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw