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What’s on this week: 18-24 May

16:06 18/05/2023
Jumping jazz, Afro beats, classical singers and contemporary art from home and abroad… discover our pick of upcoming activities and events

It’s not on everyone’s radar, but Jam’in Jette Outdoor is a fantastic kick-off to Brussels’ summer festival season. The daytime’s family-friendly mix of villages dedicated to kids, crafts and solidarity turns into a music festival come nightfall featuring world, soul and jazz concerts. The atmosphere at Park de la Jeanesse is made complete with wandering performers and fairy lighting. And the whole thing is free. 19-20 May, Avenue du Comté de JetteAfropolitan

The 6th edition of the Afropolitan Festival delivers a weekend packed with music, cinema, exhibitions (including The Harlem Fantasy), talks and activities for teens and kids. Inspired by the world of the Afrofuturism movement that was born in the 1950s, the festival brings together contemporary artists from the Belgian and African diaspora as well as musicians, including renowned Nigerian Femi Kuti, it's an immersive experience into the world of this vibrant artistic movement. 19-21 May, Rue Ravenstein 23

Harlem Fantasy (c)Nick Kuskin, The Royal House of Labeija

A fascinating look into minority LGBTQ+ culture is offered by The Harlem Fantasy at Bozar. Nearly 40 never-before-seen photographs (the lost negatives were recently discovered) document the Harlem Fantasy Ball II, one of the Ballroom events organised by the black and Latino queer community in New York in response to racist drag queen pageant culture. Queens strut their stuff in fabulous costumes, judged by a jury of their peers. The exhibition is part of the Afropolitan Festival, which brings together contemporary artists for a long weekend of cinema, photography, music, debate, workshops and a lifestyle market. Afropolitan 19-21 May, Harlem Fantasy 20 May to 17 September, Rue Ravenstein 23


The Beyond Jazz Festival at Sounds Jazz club presents two nights of live electro jazz. First up is Antoine Pierre (Vaague) and Dorian Dumont (Aphexions), followed on the second evening by Riahrty and Hyppercontent (pictured). These musicians are some of the most exciting jazz players on the scene today and offer two nights of live music at one of the most country’s most important jazz venues. 19-20 May, Rue de la Tulipe 28 (Ixelles)

Courtesty TEDx Brussels

Say you came upon a big red button in Brussels that said “Press to restart”. Would you push it? What are the risks? What would restart? That’s the theme of the talks at Reset, the latest edition of TEDxBrussels, where experts share their visions on resetting the capital of Europe. Workshops apply the principles to your own life. There are also performances and food. (Talks in English or French) 20 May 15.30-22.00, Théâtre National, Blvd Emile Jacqmain 111


The prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition is dedicated to the voice this year with 64 candidates selected for the first round on 21 and 22 May at Flagey. In one of the most gruelling music contests in the world, 12 of them will then be chosen for the semi-final rounds on 24 and 25 May, also at Flagey. The finalists then head to Bozar from 1 to 3 June, performing with the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alain Altinoglu. The 2023 competition will conclude with the six laureates appearing in the closing concert with the Symphony Orchestra of Opera Ballet Vlaanderen, conducted by Alejo Pérez on 13 June. The competition can be followed on national TV and radio stations. 21 May to 3 June, Flagey (Place Sainte-Croix) & Bozar (Rue Ravenstein 23)

Margo Jefferson (c)Claire Holt

American professor and author Margo Jefferson comes to Passa Porta to talk about her latest book Constructing a Nervous System. It is part criticism, part memoir about growing up black and middle-class in Chicago in the midst of civil rights and feminist movements. The book serves as an in-depth examination of black female identity, examining the materials that make up her life: “chosen, imposed, inherited, made up”. 25 May 20.00-21.30, Rue Antoine Dansaert 46

Pint of Science

It’s no secret that alcohol is considered a good stimulant for a great conversation. Well with the international festival Pint of Science, researchers are dropping by several bars and cafes around Belgium to impart their scientific know-how over a good pint of beer. Some 18 topics spread across bars in Antwerp, Leuven, Brussels and Ostend, will shed more light on ongoing scientific studies and new discoveries. In Brussels, these include Weird and Wonderful Microbes, A deep dive into the future and Uncovering the secrets of WW2 in Belgium. A minimum of two talks per evening each last 20 to 30 minutes, with an interval devoted to fun activities and the chance to win Pint of Science and partners’ goodies. 22-24 May, various bars around Belgium

Russel Hicks

English Comedy Brussels returns with Russel Hicks – Next Level and special guests Nigel Williams and Sadman Ric gracing the comedy stage at The Black Sheep. Incredible at improv and taking hecklers down a peg or two, Hicks (pictured) has established himself as a Canadian sensation on the comedy circuit. His rebellious and unapologetic humour make him reliably unpredictable. Accompanying him is a regular on the Belgian comedy circuit, Nigel Williams. His observational and aggressive comedy have earned him the spot as one of the founding fathers of the new wave of Belgian stand-up comedy and a favourite of audiences around Europe. Finally, Sadman Ric, a specialist of one liners and deadpan comedy is one to watch. 23 May 20.00, Chaussée de Boondael 8 (Ixelles)


With Brussels celebrating the Year of Art Nouveau in 2023, the International Study Group has invited programme coordinator Alice Graas to present its latest talk. Since 2017, Graas coordinates the association Maison Cauchie, which is dedicated to the valorisation of the Art Nouveau house and the work of the decorator couple Paul and Lina Cauchie. She also creates guided tours in districts where Art Nouveau is strongly represented. The event is free for members, guests welcome  €10 to be paid on arrival. 22 May 10.30 (10.00 welcome), Château Sainte-Anne, Rue Du Vieux Moulin 103 (Auderghem)


After huge success in cities in US and Brazil with over 22,000 visitors, Authentic Flamenco Presents Yolanda Osuna* is now entertaining crowds in Brussels. The renowned flamenco artist performs in a passionate flamenco show brought by the Royal Opera of Madrid and Fever. Witness the raw power of the captivating Spanish art form in the majestic setting of this concert and ballroom venue. Until 28 May, Concert Noble, Rue d’Arlon 82


Bubble World is an immersive experience full of bubbles of all kinds due to open this summer. Step into a planet beyond your imagination with themed rooms, fantastical landscapes and more, all using VR technology. Move from one enveloping space to the next and explore them all with your senses. This is a very family-friendly activity which offers discounts* for accompanied children from four years old and pensioners as well as groups of more than nine people. Open from Summer 2023, Avenue du Port 86C, Tours and Taxis


Several Reenactments, photo (c)Dirk-Pauwels

Although Haegue Yang is considered one of the finest artists of her generation, Several Reenactments is her first solo exhibition in Belgium. The South Korean conceptual artist incorporates the architectural space – and often locally sourced materials – into her installations. The sculptures here are an interesting juxtaposition of organic and mechanical and are accompanied by a soundscape featuring The Rite of Spring. Until 10 September, Smak, Jan Hoetplein 1, Ghent

Unreadiness (c)Jan Vercruysse, courtesy Roger Raveel Museum

A temporary exhibition at the Roger Raveel Museum points to a 16-page text by James Joyce as its inspiration. Joyce’s Giacomo Joyce, published posthumously, is a kind of love letter to a student – part poem, part prose, fully a mix of the personal and the universal. Unreadiness features the work of the late Belgian artist Jan Vercruysse, contemporary Belgian artist Nel Aerts and contemporary British artist John Murphy. All three have developed their own universe that draws on personal emotions and experiences. Until 10 September, Gildestraat 2, Zulte (East Flanders)

Namur in May

Convivial street theatre festival Namur in May returns to the Walloon capital, a fairground arts fiesta that’s welcomed as a long-awaited ray of sunshine by residents and visitors alike. Setting up camp in the narrow streets and squares of the historic cobbled centre, fairytale lamps suspended above the streets are decorative and colourful by day, festive and magical at night. Carousels, mime artists, jesters, clowns, buskers and performers fill theatres, streets and impromptu spaces in more than 100 shows (both free and paying). The newly-renovated Place Maurice Servais hosts old-fashioned wooden games and retro funfair rides, puppet shows and other entertainment. Until 20 May, Namur city centre


Discover the fascinating artwork of Belgian Adrien Lucca and Italian Pietro Fortuna at the Hainaut art museum BPS22. The dual solo shows fill the main spaces of the former industrial exhibition hall. Fortuna, resident in Brussels since 2015,  presents the sixth of his Glory series, a resumé of his previous shows that have toured Europe, plus new sculpture and murals that deconstruct figurative motifs from various media, combined with raw industrial materials. Lucca is a master of colour and light and explores basic visual effects that dance hypnotically on the border of art and science. His show (pictured above) includes an immersive and in-situ installation. Until 27 August, Boulevard Solvay 22, Charleroi

Photos: Jamin Jette, courtesy KWA; Harlem Fantasy ©Nick Kuskin, The Royal House of Labeija; Courtesty TEDx Brussels; 2018 Laureates concert, Bozar ©Bruno Vessiez; Margo Jefferson ©Claire Holt; Art_Nouveau Facade on a House in Brussels panoramio; Several Reenactments, photo ©Dirk-Pauwels; Unreadiness ©Jan Vercruysse, courtesy Roger Raveel Museum; BPS22 Le secret des couleurs ©Adrien Lucca ©Leslie Artamonow

Sometimes The Bulletin earns a small commission when a reader buys a ticket to an event we have featured. These affiliate links are clearly labelled with an asterisk (*). Our choice of events is unbiased, made independently by our journalists and never influenced by advertisers.


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