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What’s on this week: 26 April to 2 May

19:05 24/04/2024
From circus thrills and contemporary dance to short films and insightful exhibitions, check out what’s going on in Brussels and beyond…

You will not only feel like hopping but also spinning, swirling and flying through the air after witnessing the escapades on show during the Hopla Circus Festival. Free of charge, it brings together all manner of acrobatic artists, whether the focus is on strength, balance, dance or maybe a bit of feminism. All performances are open-air, so just put together your programme and hop from one to the other. 27 April to 3 May, across Brussels-City

Raphaëlle Peria - Les disparus 2

From petrified hands to a pretty pink bench with dancing women, UNIQUE, Beyond photography, explores 21 projects by Belgian artists, half of whom are under 40. Billed as “defying the norms of analogue photography and opposing the reproducibility of digital photography”, this fascinating show emphasises the fragility of our existence. See images of toxic algae, fire-destroyed landscapes, excess jellyfish that thrive in polluted seas and ruined rainforests. Poignantly, Raphaëlle Peria’s beautiful pictures of birds (pictured) come from her travels in Indonesia, where bird trafficking is rife. Until 8 June, HANGAR, Place du Châtelain 18 (Ixelles)


Jean Boghossian, a Belgian artist of Armenian and Lebanese descent, is already iconic in Brussels as the co-founder of beautiful Villa Empain foundation and museum. Renowned for working with fire, Abstract Writings, Abstract Thoughts reveals his hitherto unseen writings on art. They provide both a companion to his artistic journey and a commentary on life and the world. Believing ‘positive’ destruction creates construction, Boghossian’s books may be damaged, his burnt book sculptures are also on show here, but they still invite us to look inside, with the message that books have meaning, even in our digital age. Until 15 September, Wittockiana, Rue du Bemel 23 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)

Brussels short film festivalA short film is like Belgian weather in April. If you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes. There are plenty of sunny snippets at the Brussels Short Film Festival – along with dark humour, quirky characters, harsh realities and kid-like fun. Each screening of about 90 minutes gathers shorts according to certain categories like Oscar nominees, Trash and Focus on Belgium. There are also free open-air screenings on Mont des Arts, a new section devoted to medium-length films and the Night of the Short, which offers of 4.5 hours of shorts and a videoclips battle. Until 4 May, across Brussels city & Ixelles


Everyone’s on the move for International Dance Day on 29 April with celebrations breaking out across Belgium. The 3rd edition of Danses en Fête is already up and running with family-friendly and free performances throughout French-speaking regions; professional and amateur dancers performing various styles, from classical to contemporary, ballet to Bollywood. Meanwhile, the Flemish community’s 9th edition of the Day of Dance on 27 April – along with a week long of activities up until 28 April - sees performances staged in public spaces, theatres, workspaces and museums. Until 29 April, multiple locations in Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders


Showcasing contemporary jewellery, Brussels Jewellery Week reveals how creative and innovative is the decorative art. Staged by MAD Brussels, this second edition gathers established and emerging artists, collectors and an international audience to admire the design, beauty and craft of some lovely pieces. In addition to the main exhibition PARTICLE(S), there’s tours, lectures and workshops in various locations around the city. 25 April to 5 May, Place du Nouveau Marché aux Grains 10


It’s the first outdoor electronic music festival of the year! Yes, Hangar Festival is back, welcoming up to 10,000 partygoers to the canalside venue this weekend. Confirmed artists include Chloé Caillet, Clara D, FIONA, Gabrielle Kwarteng, Honey Dijon, Kayu, Mochakk, Toolate Groove and Victoria De Angelis on Saturday; and Calao, Denis Sulta, DJ BORING, HAAi, Lilihell, Mathame, Mooglie, NTO, Pegassi B2B Helena Lauwaert and Philou on Sunday. Tickets here. 27-28 April, Quai de Heembeek, Port of Brussels

Bellum et Artes (c)Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Photo by Elke Estel, Hans-Peter Klut

What does war have to do with the arts? You might think very little, but consider how much art is looted, the techniques used to create propaganda and the innumerable artworks that try to capture the bloodshed of battle. Bellum et Artes at the House of European History examines these connections by examining the Thirty Years’ War, one of Europe’s most devastating and deadly conflicts. The opening night includes insights from curators, a classical concert and a 17th-century inspired cocktail. 27 April to 12 January, Rue Belliard 135

Oxalys Frans kwintet1-4004©JasmineVanHevel.jpg

Chamber music ensemble Oxalys presents the first edition of its Oxalys Festival at La Tricoterie. On the programme are three concerts celebrating the musical journey of this 30-year-old ensemble, founded by students from the Brussels Conservatory and boasting a strong international reputation. The festival kicks off on 1 May with a performance of the ensemble’s new CD The American Album, an unorthodox selection of 20th century chamber music from across the pond. 1-5 May, Rue Théodore Verhaegen 158 (Saint-Gilles)


Serving as a showcase to the 8th edition of the Midsummer Mozartiade in June, this free concert presents extracts of the festival’s leading production Mitridate, re di Ponto. The Mozart work will be performed by a clutch of talented musicians in the wonderful setting of Château du Karreveld. Reservations by telephone (0474.43.98.41) or by email ( 27 April, Avenue Jean de la Hoese 3 (Molenbeek-Saint-Jean)

May Day

May Day on Thursday is not only a public holiday, it’s international worker’s day, a global celebration of workers’ rights and achievement. The trade union FGTB-ABVV Brussels marks the occasio with a celebratory programme of concerts, debates, a photo exhibition and a village full of association stands and activities for all the family in the Mont des Arts quarter. The music performances are outdoors, while the talks are staged in Plein Publiek. All activities are free. 1 May 12.00-20.00, Mont des Arts


The capital goes arty this weekend as Art Brussels takes over Halls 5 & 6 of the city’s emblematic Brussels Expo. For its 40th edition, the contemporary art fair displays some 800 artists, represented by 177 art galleries from Belgium and abroad. Numerous side projects include Art for the City, a collaboration with the city of Brussels in which a winning artist will design a sculpture for a future urban project for the capital. Admire all the entries placed in front of the main entrance of the exhibition space. 25-28 April, Halls 5 & 6, Brussels Expo, Place de la Belgique (Laeken)


Leaps of Faith (c)Selma Gurbuz

Modern Western art carries a religious legacy, even if this isn’t its primary purpose. With that bold statement, Z33 in Hasselt presents Leaps of Faith, an exploration of the relationship between faith and contemporary art. While faith is a broader concept than religion, our relationships to the unknowable, to doubt and to conviction all address the same question – how do we navigate the uncertainties of life? Until 25 August, Bonnefantenstraat 1, Hasselt

Rebel Garden (c)Femke den Hollander

One need look no further than climate change to know that human’s relationship with nature is tenuous at best, murderous at worst. The Rebel Garden exhibition has sprouted up in three of Bruges’ beautiful museum sites to examine nurture, creation and resistance – because nature fights back. Until 1 September, across Bruges

Shaolin Monks

Practiced for some 1,500 years, Shaolin is one of the oldest forms of kung fu. Its demand of acrobatic prowess is a mark of physical perfection and a mind at peace. Shaolin Monks: Kung-Fu is quite a show, illustrating feats of strength, balance and power that can often seem downright impossible. 30 April, Capitole, Ghent; 1 May, Stadsschouwburg, Antwerp


Immerse yourself in the Middle Ages at the Bouillon Medieval Experience, which launches a new tour for the season. The attraction travels back to the 11th century via high-tech audiovisual guides. Combine your visit with a trip to town’s fortress, a fairytale castle (pictured) hewn from a rocky precipice overlooking the French border town and the Semois river. It was home to the Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, who joined the first Crusade and became ruler of Jerusalem. From 27 April, Quai des Saulx 14, Bouillon, Luxembourg province


Le cercle des femmes peintres & Kiki Crèvecoeur celebrates the collective action and talent of a group of women painters at the end of the 19th century. Extremely active in the Belgian art world, they staged four exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in Brussels. Now their creativity is again on show in at the Namur museum dedicated to the city’s 19th-century symbolist artist and caricaturist Félicien Rops. Adding a contemporary note are works by engraver Kiki Crèvecoeur. Until 8 September, Musée Félicien Rops, Rue Fumal 12, Namur


More than 2,000 visitors are expected at the 4th edition of the body art fair Caritatif Tattoo Days in Liège. The international event, full of live sessions, was set up by the city’s famous tattoo artist Mike Them. It raises thousands of euros each year for the local children’s residential service Le Phare. 27-28 April, Manège Fonck, Rue Ransonnet 2, Liège


The annual competition Concours Amaryllis at Château de Beloeil devoted to the amaryllis bloom has come up with a new concept to delight visitors: an exhibition in the ground floor of the castle dedicated to floral displays designed for weddings. In total, some 8,000 amaryllis decorate the stylish interior with 21 professional and amateur florists competing in the 12th edition of the event. The Hainaut castle is set in 17th-century French-style landscaped gardens. Until 28 AprilRue du Château 11, Beloeil, Hainaut province

Discover more upcoming events at The Bulletin's events page.

Photos: Les disparus, 2023 © Raphaëlle Peria; Day of Dance Benjamin Vandewalle P.A.R.T.S. Derailed ©Sein Verstraeten; Bellum et Artes ©Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister. Photo by Elke Estel, Hans-Peter Klut; ArtBrussels 2024 ©DavidPlas; Leaps of Faith ©Selma Gurbuz; Rebel Garden ©Femke den Hollander; Bouillon castle ©Alexandre Aurelien; Alix d’Anethan (Rops Museum), courtesy Galerie Ary Jan, Paris; Hugues dotrice amaryllis2023 

Written by Sarah Crew, Lisa Bradshaw, Liz Newmark