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What’s on this week: 21-27 July

Belgian national holiday celebrations in Brussels
15:35 19/07/2023
Belgium’s national holiday kicks off a welcome long weekend, ideal for taking advantage of summer activities around the country

National holiday celebrations start at 10.00 in Brussels’ royal park with entertainment for all the family, including concerts, folklore parades and a Belgian police ‘village’. At 16.00, the traditional military and civil parade begins its march through Place du Palais with national forces and services showing off their gleaming uniforms and well-rehearsed striding skills. The festivities move to Cinquantenaire Park with a “Happy Belgium” concert at 21.00. Ozark Henry, Mentissa, Gustaph, Colt, Paul Michiels, RORI, Axelle Red, Daan and Loïc Nottet are among the performers. At midnight, a laser light show and fireworks display from the site’s esplanade and arcades bring the festivities to a close. 21 July, multiple locations in the city centre

Bubble Experience

Dive into the fantasy world of Bubble Planet Experience, a new immersive happening in the capital. From a swimming pool full of bubbles and an infinity room to a hot air balloon simulator, this is an invitation to literally float away… The colourful, calming and fun family experience consists of 11 thematic rooms all designed to awaken the senses. From 20 July, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86C

(c)Courtesy Brussels by Water 2

Brussels by Water – operator of the Waterbus that traverses the Brussels Canal between Vilvoorde and Avenue du Port – is adding three new excursions. Cyclists can bring their bikes aboard for a trip from Anderlecht to Quai Béco, where a newly renovated pier welcomes you to the part of the new Béco Park that is already open. Another cruise takes visitors from Anderlecht south through Brussels’ green belt to Ronquières. Or go all the way to Antwerp via the canal and the Scheldt river, passing through two locks along the way. Check the website for schedules and prices. Until 14 October

(c)Courtesy Park Poetik

A whole bunch of activities for all ages are offered during Park Poétik, dedicated to creating art, prose and connections with others in your community. Spanning Forest and Saint-Gilles, the summer-long event is all about co-creation with, for instance, Radio Poétik, where anyone can join in on various workshops and tell their stories to create the radio show emanating from a caravan. There’s also TWOooooTER, a show based on urban stories and mythological creatures, and Objets à la Dérive, which finds you building an aquatic sound sculpture. In the midst of all this are two big street parties. Until 26 August

Vaux Hall Brussels Park

The seasonal programme of dance, music, cabaret, cinema, poetry, yoga and games continues to roll on at Vaux Hall Summer. Located in a magnificent historic building  behind Théâtre du Parc, it hosts the evening events weekly from Thursday to Sunday. Coming up this weekend is the chamber music ensemble Quintette Etcaetera on 22 July at 17.00 and a performance of Congolese dance music at 18.30. Check out the varied and lively programme. Until 13 August, Rue de la Loi 3, Brussels royal park

Four Sisters (c)Galerie Loeve&Co

The 2017 French documentary Shoah: Four Sisters told the story of Holocaust survivors. They were not family; the title referred to the women’s shared experiences. An exhibition of the same name brings together four Jewish Belgian artists who were all deeply affected by Nazi Germany. Painter Sarah Kaliski’s father was deported to Auschwitz and never returned. Photographer Julia Pirotte fled Poland and spent her career documenting the resistance. Sculptor Marianne Berenhaut lost both parents to the camps, and filmmaker Chantal Akerman was born to a survivor. Four Sisters tells their stories through photos, documentation and their own work. Until 27 August, Jewish Museum of Belgium, Rue des Minimes 21

The Artwork (c)Tobias Wootton, ZKM

Step into an installation and make it your own at The Artwork as a Living System, a retrospective of work by Christa Sommerer and Laurent Migonneau. These internationally acclaimed pioneers of interactive art connected traditional subjects – art and nature – with the most innovation techniques in virtual, sentient projects. Touching on subjects like quantum physics, genetics and artificial life, the installations are also a whole lot of fun. Until 24 September, iMAL, Quai des Charbonnages (Molenbeek)


Book now: Summer Party at Villa Empain One of the hottest tickets of any Brussels summer is the bash at the Art Deco masterpiece Villa Empain. Check out the current exhibition House of Dreamers, move to DJ sets around the swimming pool, sip cocktails from the bar and pay a visit to the food truck. It’s a hip party in a beautiful spot. 27 August 12.00-21.00, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67


M-IDZOMER 2 ╕Diederik Craps

Belgian musician Daan, folk-pop superstar Suzanne Vega and Swedish indie folk guitarist José González are just a few of the names on the bill at the four-day music and arts festival M-idzomer. The summer event at Museum M brings together music, performance and arts both inside and outside of this distinctive site. 27-30 July, Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28, Leuven

Something Sacred

Closed for renovation until 2024, Mons’ fine arts museum BAM moves into the city’s public space to present Something Sacred, a trail through the city of Mons of almost 20 colossal works by Jaume Plensa. The internationally renowned Catalan sculptor and engraver is renowned for the engaging way his iconic artworks interact with the public space. Two key city locations were selected: the Grand-Place and the Collegiate Church of Sainte-Waudru, reflecting the city’s coexisting civil and religious powers. The public is invited to discover the narrative trail between these two sites.  Until 8 October, Mons city centre

If your favourite part of summer festivals is the food trucks, we have good news for you. Chefs on Wheels is a dedicated food truck festival! Well, there’s music, too, but its secondary compared to the grazing that is at the heart of this nomadic event. You’ll find everything here, from Asian to Mexican to Belgian frites. Until 23 September, across Flanders


The Walloon favourite Les Francofolies de Spa may be dedicated to French language and culture but you will also hear English language artists performing on the festival stages in the picturesque Ardennes town of Spa. Anglophone acts this year include Mika, famous for his international song Elle me dit, Grace Kelly and JustTwo who cover well known hits by Bill Withers, Amy Winehouse and others. Full camping facilities are on hand as are dedicated bus and trains; car parking is also available. Until 23 July, across Spa (Liege)

Photos: Bubble Planet Experience @Exhibitionhub; (c)Courtesy Brussels by Water 2; @Courtesy Park Poetik; @Vaux Hall-Eric Danhier; The Artwork @Tobias Wootton, ZKM

Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw