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What’s on this week: 13-19 January

Brussels Motor Show 2023
10:07 12/01/2023
Mid-winter distractions in Brussels and Belgium include a much-anticipated motor show, a celebration of classical music, a slew of cycling-themed films, colourful local panto and much more…

Cars, small vans and two-wheel vehicles are all under the spotlight at the 100th anniversary of Brussels Motor Show. The 2023 edition boasts a record number of car manufacturers, a display of 15 iconic cars from the past century and a daily laser show beamed onto the stunning architectural façade of Palace 5. For the first time in its history, the salon will announce the prestigious Car of the Year. Its focus this year is on providing information, particularly on electric and hybrid cars: the burning question challenging the automobile sector and the climate. 14-22 January, Brussels Expo, Place de la Belgique 1 (Laeken)

Concerts de midi

On 12 March 2020, the Musical Instruments Museum staged the 2,300th concert in its Concerts de Midi series. We all know what happened after that – everything shut down because of a virus we would soon know all too well. When the lunchtime series returned last autumn, it was time to celebrate its 75th anniversary edition. A day-long celebration takes place on Sunday, featuring pianist Jozef De Beenhouwer playing Schumann, Brahms and Chopin and the MNM Trio (one piano, six hands) at the MIM itself, then an ensemble of musicians offer a Beethoven programme at the Fine Arts Museum. 15 January from 11.00, MIM and Fine Arts Museum

Cycling film fest

The Cyclist Film Festival makes a stop at Vendôme for three hours of short films on all things cycling. Thrill seekers, road-trippers, pros and other assorted cycling enthusiasts fill the programme of this fun event for the whole family. Films are in French or with French subtitles. 18 January 19.30-22.30, Vendôme, Chaussée de Wavre 18 (Ixelles)

Chronicle of Alibis-3

Acclaimed stage play Chronicle of Alibis is the first large-scale show in the Korean language to be performed in Belgium, complete with English surtitles for international audiences. The autobiographical tale by writer and director Kim Jae-yeop is a highly personal story of his war veteran father, his older brother and himself that also offers a sweeping view of the history of South Korea. 18 January 19.30, KVS Bol, Rue de Laeken 146

Fondation-Boghossian-Villa-Empain_3-press-scaledIt feels as if the war started a lifetime ago, yet since the Russians started invading Ukraine in  February 2022, the events that have transpired have shaken a nation and threatened world peace. One year ago the war in Ukraine… is a talk (in French) led by Ukraine specialist Ioulia Shukan that will shed some light on questions surrounding the conflict. It’s organised by Villa Empain (pictured above), a museum under the umbrella of the Boghossian Foundation, which promotes culture and understanding between the West and the Middle East. 19 January, Villa Empain, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67 (Ixelles)

PLINTH N°11_Red Green White Corten Steel, Oil  Auto Paint_145 x 145cm 2022

French-Belgian artist Mathieu Bonardet and British artist Tom Henderson are being paired for Tilt, a new show at the Michèle Schoonjans Gallery. Both work with balance and instability in fun and surprising ways, with artworks that look like they might fall from the wall or come crashing to the floor. 15 January to 25 February, Chaussée de Waterloo 690/25 (Uccle)


Londoner and Brussels resident David Labi (pictured with his father) takes to the stage for a one-man show, Pieces of a Man, to relate the story of his late father Marcello. A Libyan-Italian Jew who survived the Holocaust as a child, Marcello embarked on a rollercoaster of a life, bringing pain, joy and trauma to those around him, says Labi, who performs a gripping and laugh-out-loud tragicomic monologue (reservation not necessary). 20 January19.30, Full Circle House, Chaussée de Vleurgat 89 (Ixelles)

Sinbad the Sailor rehearsal

Baggy trousers and high heels, bad haircuts and hairy baddies, genies and giant birds, shipwrecks and magic carpets, and lots of tea and even more gin. All this and more awaits in the panto, Sinbad the Sailor, staged by the ECC theatre group. This is the definitive version of Sinbad's adventures, an all-singing, all-dancing show full of terrible jokes and with a local Belgian flavour, according to the ECC. Tickets are €18 for adults, €14 for children. 20-22 January, Auderghem Cultural Centre, Boulevard du Souverain 183 (Auderghem)

Writers & Thinkers Kenan Malik ©DR-GR

Book now: Writers & Thinkers  Check the programme and grab tickets now for anyone you have your heart set on seeing at Bozar’s terrific line-up of authors, journalists, artists, philosophers and politicians taking part in the Writers & Thinkers series. First up next week is City Talk: New Brussels, New Belgium featuring author Tom Naegels and artist Laura Nsengiyumva, discussing the realities faced by new Belgians past and present. Other exciting names on the programme are British columnist Kenan Malik (pictured), American political pundit Mark Leibovich and Belgian philosopher Vinciane Despret (in English). 25 January to 17 May, Rue Ravenstein 23

Outside Brussels 

Chinese New Year (c)Petrapanis

Ring in the Year of the Rabbit during Chinese New Year in Antwerp. Nowhere in Belgium does this celebration better, with activities concentrated in and around the Permeke Library. Take a workshop on calligraphy or martial arts, check out the exhibition Legends of the Liondance and attend Hong Kong movie night, just a few of the options on the busy programme. The big day is, of course, 22 January, when the New Year Festival entertains the throngs with a parade, dancing, Kungfu and Tai Chi demonstrations and an Asian food market. 13-29 January, De Coninckplein 25, Antwerp

L'Expo Nationale(c)Manon Soetens

More than 2,500 artistic hopefuls entered L’Expo Nationale, a juried competition where 100 lucky amateur artists were ultimately selected for a special exhibition in Antwerp’s Fine Arts Museum. Give yourself plenty of time to check out the rest of the museum, recently re-opened after a thorough renovation lasting 11 years. Until 22 January, Leopold de Waelplaats 1, Antwerp


This Healing Sounds concert is an opportunity to switch off, relax and meditate. Musician Laure Stehlin invites the audience to consciously listen to the rhythms and vibrations of her voice, flutes and drums to benefit from this moment of harmony that’s accessible to everyone from the age of 12. The concert takes place in the abbey’s mill house. 19 January 20.00, Villers Abbey, Rue de l’Abbaye 55, Villers-la-Ville


The winter magic of pop-up restaurant Les Serres d’Hiver continues with a series of concerts on Wednesday evenings. Descend on this illuminated patch in the wilds of Wallonia for a musical moment accompanying a menu full of Savoyard delicacies, including cheese fondue as well as Sunday brunch. On the musical programme are Olivier Fivet singing Pierre Rapsat on 18 January, Just Lore (25 January), The Trio (1 February), Moon Memories (8 February) and Jacques Weck singing Johnny (15 February) . Until 19 February, Wednesday to Sunday, Domaine de Beronsart, Gesves (Namur province)

Photos: Tilt: Plinth N°11_Red Green White Corten Steel; Writers & Thinkers Kenan Malik ©DR-GR; Chinese New Year (c)Petrapanis; L'Expo Nationale(c)Manon Soetens 


Written by Sarah Crew, Lisa Bradshaw, Louis Kernoa-Pascoe