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What’s on this week: 15 to 21 December

Belgian Comic Strip Center
12:09 14/12/2023
With holidays around the corner, festive entertainment abounds, from concerts and family shows to Christmas markets. We’ve unearthed a couple of alternative events if you need a break from all the seasonal cheer.

Are you familiar with The Wolf in Underpants? The series of graphic novels created by Wilfried Lupano, Mayan Itoiz and Paul Cauuet as Le Loup en slip are smart, funny and have lessons to teach to young readers. The original story had all the forest creatures terrified of the scary wolf – earning money selling wolf traps and anti-wolf fences. But when he shows up nice as you please in striped underpants, they must admit they let their assumptions get the best of them. The exhibition The Wolf in Underpants Exposed plunges the whole family into the forest and its colourful characters. 19 December to 31 March, Belgian Comic Strip Center, Rue des Sables 20

2023 Brussels Carol Concert

An orchestra of international musicians and a choir of multi-lingual schoolchildren come together for Brussels Carol Concert, a holiday season highlight in the capital. With the Winter Dreams Orchestra conducted by David Navarro Turres, Mary Gow on piano and Catriona Hatton as master of ceremonies, the concert brings together well-loved holiday carols (not excluding a bit of sing-along) with this year’s guest soloist Amalia Avilan. Proceeds go to the Foetal Medicine Centre at Brugmann children’s hospital. 17 December, Royal Conservatory, Rue de la Régence 30


A free and eco-friendly ice skating rink enjoys pride of place at Watermael-Boitsfort’s Christmas Village this year. The innovative skating facility is made of slippery panels and employs no ice, water or electricity. Meanwhile, chalets offer gifts and things to eat and drink, Father Christmas makes an appearance and a circus show awaits. Until 17 December, Place A Payfa-Fosseprez


Eco-friendly village Be-Here and Greenbizz stage a Christmas Market with locally produced gifts, food and drink. Hosted at the former’s glass-covered sustainable village behind Tour & Taxis, this is a family-friendly gathering with all the trimmings – ethical stocking fillers, live music, kids’ activities, festive decor, warm drinks and seasonal bites. In collaboration with Lumières & Paillettes. 15-16 December 11.00-19.00, Be-Here Rue Dieudonné Lefèvre 4 (Molenbeek)


Winter Pop draws to a close with a final weekend of seasonal fun warming up Place Willems in Laeken. Festive caravans stage concerts, choirs, film screenings, performances, fire shows, festive walks and face painting. Glowing braziers, bright lights, appetising edibles and warming drinks all add to the atmosphere. 15 to 17 December, Place Willems (Laeken)


The ancient abbey farm of Rouge-Cloître hosts a Christmas Village filled with artworks and artisan goodies. Don’t miss the craft skills on display, among a busy entertainment programme designed for all ages. Father Christmas arrives on his sled carriage each day at 17.00. 16-17 December 11.00-18.00, Rouge-Cloître art centre and farm (Auderghem)


Here's one for seasonal grinches! The Anti-Christmas Radical Feminist Cabaret Club & Alternative Peepshow Party is an invitation by Beursschouwburg to sing a song, scream, yawn, slam, pet or spit… If that sounds like the perfect antidote to the festive glitter and tinsel, send a message to rosie.sommers1@gmail.com15 December, 19.00, Beurscafé, Rue Auguste Orts 20

(Installation View) Helen Anna Flanagan, The Gap (2023), 4K video, stereo sound, 16_9 ratio, 13mins30sec, edition of 5 + 1 AP. Courtesy the artist and Ballon Rouge.Photo by Silvia Cappellari 5

Ballon Rouge gallery’s new exhibition A Room with a View by British artist Helen Anna Flanagan invites visitors to immerse themselves in her imaginative and colour drenched world.  Via videos, performances, photo series and installations, Flanagan’s works evoke holiday escapes with motifs such as water, sun and saturated hues, including her new video The Gap (pictured), which is premiered at the show. Until 22 February, Place du Jardin aux Fleurs 2


Combine two hobbies in these special Yoga Beer sessions that promise the “the ultimate combination of relaxation and happiness”. Run by Tipsy Tribe Brewery & Distillery, participants are invited to perform yoga poses while sipping on refreshing craft beers (classes in English). 16, 23 & 30 December 11.00, Chaussée de Jette 374 (Koekelberg) 


A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is held at the Cathedral of St Michael & St Gudula, followed by a similar traditional service at the Anglican Holy Trinity Brussels16 December 15.00 (St Michael & St Gudula Cathedral) Parvis Sainte-Gudule); 17 December 19.00; (Holy Trinity Church) Rue Capitaine Crespel 29 (Ixelles)

Estelle Deschamp et Mathieu Simon, Einstürzende neubauten (détail), 2012, terre crue, plante verte, divers.

Ten young contemporary artists are on show at Botanique after their selection for ArtContest 2023, a national competition that serves as a springboard for emerging talent. It also provides them with long-term support amid a philosophy focused on aiding their artistic evolution and encouraging an art practice that reflects today’s society. Four prize winners will be chosen by the jury that represents some of the country’s major art institutions. 16 December to 4 February, Botanique, Rue Royale 236

200 Singers (c)Courtesy Bozar

Following the great success of the first concert two years ago, the Les petits chanteurs de Bruxelles boys’ choir has again invited the girls’ choir Mélopée and the adult choir Vox Anima to join them for a Christmas concert at Bozar. The choirs will be accompanied by the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles for the show 200 Singers – but get tickets now because they are flying out the door. 18 December 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23

Lindsey Sterling 2

American musician Lindsey Stirling is a performing powerhouse. She plays the violin, dances and puts on a show with acrobatics and trapeze. Her Snow Waltz Christmas album topped the charts, and the tour is quite a spectacle. While her violin – in numerous styles from folk to pop to classical – takes centre stage, she also sings. Expect it all in the Snow Waltz show at ING Arena. 20 December 20.00, Avenue de Miramar

Dinosaurs (c)Julius Csotonyi, University of Toronto

Head to VUB for Dinosaurs on Campus, a family-friendly evening devoted to the ever-fascinating beasts that once roamed the earth. There are book signings, live music and talks with international palaeontologists – who know how to tell a good story about fossils and the wondrous animals from the geological past. Most of the event is in English. Bring cash if you want to buy books, otherwise the event is free. 19 December 19.30 to 23.00, Auditorium Q, Etterbeek campus, Blvd de la Plaine 2 (Ixelles)


Mosa Ballet School is staging its first Winter Performance to the delight of fans of classical dance. Celebrating the school’s budding dancers, aged nine to 20, a festive programme shows off their skills, from floor and barre exercises to virtuoso sequences of ‘character dances’ and contemporary solos. The second part of the show opens with a message of peace and solidarity with the victims of war in an adaptation of a Ukrainian Christmas carol. It closes with a performance of seasonal favourite Enchantments of the Nutcracker. 20 December 20.00-23.00, Auditorium Jacques Brel, Avenue Émile Gryson 1/Bâtiment 6 (Anderlecht)


Book now New Year Concert The Belgian National Orchestra rings in 2024 with a gala concert conducted by chief conductor Anthony Hermus at Bozar. The festive programme – including Strauss junior’s Die Fledermaus and Rosen aus dem Süden, Tchaikovsky’s Flower Waltz and excerpt from The Nutcracker ballet, concludes with Strauss senior’s famous Radetzky March. Final tickets. 7 January 15.00, Rue Ravenstein 23


James Ensor (c)Museo Carmen Thyssen, Málaga

In 2024, it will have been 75 years since the passing of James Ensor, one of Belgium’s most famous artists. His hometown of Ostend has put together an extensive programme of events, which kicks off this week with Rose, Rose, Rose à mes yeux!, a major exhibition devoted entirely to Ensor’s still lifes. Great Art for Great Kids, meanwhile, is an interactive exhibition for the whole family at Fort Napoleon. And concerts at the coastal city’s famous Kursaal celebrate the surrealist master. Events continue throughout 2024, including in Antwerp. From 16 December, across Ostend and Antwerp

Les pecheurs de perles (c)Annemie Augustijns

FC Bergman theatre company was met with great praise when it premiered a new version of Georges Bizet’s opera Les Pêcheurs de perles in 2018. Moving it from the exotic beaches of Ceylon to the grey tones of a retirement home and transforming the pearl fishermen into a community of elderly people, it is the story of two old friends who once fell in love with the same woman. Now history is repeating itself – or is it? How much later is it exactly? Past and present flow together in a story that reminds us that only people’s bodies grow old. Don’t miss this return to the stage. 15 December to 21 January, Antwerp & Ghent opera

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The annual Nuts City weekend in Bastogne commemorates the 79th anniversary of one of WW2’s deadliest conflicts, the Battle of the Bulge. Among the free activities staged by Bastogne War Museum (pictured), visitors can hear live testimonies of American and Belgian veterans and a concentration camp survivor. An outdoor US-style military camp with 150 reenactors and some 20 vehicles from the war era provides insights into soldiers’ and civilians’ lives during the bitter winter conflict. Newly-renovated Bastogne Barracks also opens its doors to show off restored old military vehicles. 16-17 December, Colline du Mardasson (museum); Rue de la Roche 40 (barracks), Bastogne (Luxembourg province)


The amusement park Walibi Winter opens for the first time over the Christmas holiday season with four themed zones at the Wavre site. All the usual attractions will be open, except those involving water (Radja River and Flash Back) and the Vampire ride. Otherwise, an alpine village, Frozen Land, Christmas market and Polar Playground await for the amusement of all ages. A traditional tree, decorations, illuminations and shows add to the sparkle. 16 December to 7 January, Boulevard de l’Europe 100, Wavre


Pop in to Knokke’s tourist office to pick up a map of A Christmas Full of Love, a walking trail along majestic light installations with a Scandi touch. The whole family will enjoy the larger-than-life moose, Wolves bears a fairytale deer gate and metres-high balloons. The tourist office can also supply you with an activity book for kids. Knokke also has a covered ice skating rink and winter walks in the Zwin nature reserve. There’s even one that serves mulled wine. Until 7 January, tourist office at Zeedijk-Knokke 660


The Concertgebouw in Bruges celebrates the longest day of the year with the music festival Winter Solstice: The Birth of Light. Through poetry and music from ancient Persian and Scandinavian traditions to Bach and medieval Christmas music, it is a reminder that this day has always been celebrated as a giver of life, the transition to longer, brighter days. 17-23 December, ’t Zand 34, Bruges


See a Christmas story acted out as you slip from one room to another in one of Belgium’s many castles. The castle halls are abundantly decorated, and elves flit about getting ready for Christmas. Kids can visit with Santa when they finally happen upon him. Kerstmagie is a burst of sights, sounds and lights, fun for children and adults alike. Until 26 December, across Belgium


The popular Ardennes tourist destination is a perfect backdrop for winter festivities with Durbuy Christmas Market specialising in artisan goodies and decorative crib scenes. Among its popular gourmet treats, and not for the faint-hearted, are hot potatoes served with melting foie gras. For the holiday season, a covered ice skating rink is set up in Roi Baudouin park. The narrow cobbled streets of Belgium’s smallest town are also peppered with tempting restaurants offering plenty of Ardennes specialities. Until 17 December, Friday-Sunday; 22 December to 7 January, daily, Place aux Foires & Parc Roi Baudouin, across Durbuy 


Les Féeries du Parc is a magical event that draws crowds to the castle domain of Parc Saint-Roch, near the market town of Ciney. The idyllic park comes alive at night with glowing trees, illuminated chalets and fairy lights lining winding paths and grand facades. For the 6th edition, 80% of the 270 stalls are devoted to artisan gifts, from jewellery and candles to Christmas decorations, textiles, and gourmet specialities. One speciality is mulled wine pimped with flambéed apple brandy!  14-18 December, near Ciney 

Discover more upcoming events at The Bulletin's events page, our full guide to Christmas markets here, plus other seasonal shows and events here.

Photos: Helen Anna Flanagan, The Gap (2023), Courtesy the artist and Ballon Rouge. Photo by Silvia Cappellari; Estelle Deschamp et Mathieu Simon, Einstürzende neubauten (détail); 200 Singers ©Courtesy Bozar; Dinosaurs ©Julius Csotonyi, University of Toronto; Mosa Ballet, photo Marc Haegeman; Antony Hermus c©gr_dr; James Ensor ©Museo Carmen Thyssen, Málaga; Les pecheurs de perles ©Annemie Augustijns; Nuts weekend 2022 ©Tempora; winter solstice ©Barry Underwood

Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw