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What’s on this week: 15-21 October

Europalia Train & Tracks exhibition at Train World
07:54 14/10/2021
Our top picks of events and activities in Brussels and beyond

Heritage and art collide and collaborate in the cross-border Europalia biennial. Staged in Belgium and neighbouring countries according to a guest country or theme, Europalia this year is focused on railways in its new edition Trains & Tracks. It might sound odd, but the invention of the train democratised travel and brought people from different cultures together on a scale not previously seen. Expect new performance and visual art (including an exhibition on the Orient Express at Train World, pictured above) based on this concept, as well as public artworks installed along railway lines and, naturally, discussions on the train’s promise of a more sustainable future for transport. Until 15 May, across Belgium

Humanity on Trial film at Festival des Libertés

For its 20th edition, the 10-day multidisciplinary Festival des Libertés invites participants to cast a critical eye over today’s rights and freedoms via the theme of confidence, defiance and surveillance. An extensive programme at the Théâtre National includes concerts by Caravan Palace, Romeo Elvis and Selah Sue, among others, plus theatre, talks and exhibitions. An international film competition screens the documentary Humanity on Trial by Jonas Bruun (pictured above) about a former refugee who finds himself on trial for human trafficking after helping migrants in Greece, as well as the European preview of Belgian director Thierry Michel’s latest documentary, L’Empire du Silence, filmed in the DRC. 21-30 October, Boulevard Emile Jacqmain 111-115

Following an online edition last autumn, interactive talk series Brussels Explained returns for a live event at Beursschouwburg with three speakers tackling fascinating local stories. Karen McHugh (The Bulletin) presents The Burying of the Senne River, Laurent d’Ursel (Doucheflux) discusses Is Brussels a Poor City and Mia Melvaer explores The Disappearance of Brussels Lesbian Bars. All three talks are in English. Brussels Explained is a collaboration between journalist Selma Franssen, non-profit Curieus vzw, Flemish-Dutch culture house DeBuren and The Bulletin. 16 October, 13.30-15.00, Beurscafé, Rue Auguste Orts 20-28

Fabrice Samyn

Brussels artist Fabrice Samyn works in a variety of media, whatever works best to communicate a concept, be it shaking up accepted values or questioning our relationship to time. He has strategically placed some 70 works among the old masters and Magrittes to create his own show but also a curious dialogue between the old and the new. The latter includes paintings from his series Twilight's Gaze (pictured above). 15 October to 13 February, Fine Arts Museum, Rue de la Régence 3

Did you know that there are more than 800km of ‘slow ways’ in Brussels? That’s the way Walk, the organisation that promotes walking and defends pedestrian interests, describes passageways, alleys, park paths and other car-free – or at least low traffic – spaces in the capital. The Slow Ways Weekend puts them in the spotlight with loads of activities for the whole family. 16-17 October, across Brussels

I Love Science Festival 2019

The I love Science Festival is a fantastic opportunity to explore the world of science and technology with hands-on activities, workshops, talks and exhibitions. Drones, robots, AR, space and environmental experiments are all on the packed programme at the three-day fair destined for all ages. Free entrance. 15-17 October, Brussels Expo Hall 11, Place de Belgique 1 (Heysel)

The Bridge, Brussels’ new theatre dedicated to English-language productions, is premiering its first production, Vincent River. The story of a woman who has lost her son to a homophobic hate crime, it is an intimate, blisteringly honest portrayal of the suffering that follows senseless violence. Some performances include a talk by the director. 20 October to 13 November, Full Circle House, Chaussée de Vleurgat 89 (Ixelles)

 Le Lion 

The Belgian Film Archive is featuring work by two Belgian filmmakers who reflect on the African Diaspora and decolonisation. In Le Lion belge (pictured above), Nimetulla Parlaku takes us through the history of colonial Belgium and how it continues to affect the economics of today. Rosine Mbakam, meanwhile, has already won awards for her new film Les Prières de Delphine, a candid interview with her friend, who was forced into prostitution at 14 and escaped by marrying a Belgian man nearly thrice her age. Both films are in French with Dutch subtitles. Until 6 November, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles)

The short film Here We Are, a documentary about the effect of Brexit on British citizens living in Brussels, will screen at the Full Circle House. Produced by the support group Brexit and the Belgian Brits (affectionately known as Babbs), it is followed by a panel discussion. 16 October 18.00, Chaussée de Vleurgat (Ixelles)


Jenever Feesten

Celebrate Hasselt’s favourite libation at Jenever Feesten, with music, dance, street theatre, a food village and a city fountain that spurts free jenever. One of Belgium’s best drinking parties, Jenever Feesten is worth the trip. 16-17 October, across Hasselt

Fernando Botero Abu Ghraib Triptych

The first Belgian retrospective of the prominent Colombian painter and sculptor, Fernando Botero. Beyond Forms, explores the major tenets of the artist’s work, from political activism (Abu Ghraib triptych, pictured above), to history, social commentary and humour. His distinctive style – voluptuous figures and objects – is known as Boterismo, and is accompanied by a sometimes explosive colour palette. The exhibition opens Mons’ second Biennial of Art and Culture, dedicated to the theme of Revelation. Until 30 January, BAM, Rue Neuve, 7000 Mons

The next Guided Tours for Internationals is a stroll through a vineyard in the lovely Hageland region. The vineyard happens to be at a castle. And did we mention there would be a tasting? Learn about Belgian wine production in this area where a favourable micro-climate and soil are producing some wonderful vintages. (In English). 17 October, 10.00


Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Sarah Crew