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What’s on this week: 28 July-3 August

City of Brussels free summer urban activity
10:29 27/07/2023
Outdoor activities abound, from laid-back holiday festivities to theatre, music and a celebration of rural life

The urban holiday festivity Summer Wonders rolls on with its programme of live music, DJ sets, afterwork events and sports activities. It’s located in Place De Brouckère and Place Fontainas, with a large-scale art installation evoking an exotic garden gracing the latter square. A range of food and drinks options, including bars, barbecues and brunches are additional attractions to the event. Upcoming highlights include an atmospheric afterwork with Melodiggerz (on Thursday) and Hangar Soundsystem’s open-air blast party on Saturday. Don’t miss sessions of the popular racket game pickleball on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Until 6 August, Brussels city centre

Summer Pop

The city’s free seasonal activity Summer Pop offers three long weekends of fun performances, concerts, creative activities, sport and workshops. It takes place in three neighbourhoods: Versailles in Neder-Over-Hembeek, Brigittines in the Marolles and the Parvis Saint-Roch in the Northern quarter. 28 July to 13 August


Les Cœurs de Bois welcomes families to its annual summer season of theatrical adventures. Guignolet dans le parc stages a variety of shows (in French) in the open air with shelter in case of rain. Free entrance and suitable for ages 3+. Until 30 August, Wednesday-Sunday 15.00 (gate opens at 14.45), Chemin de l’Ombre, Bois de la Cambre


Villa Empain’s project space is currently occupied by Duos en Resonance, a dialogue between designers and craftsmen initiated by Wallonie Design. The exhibition showcases research by five artisan duos, including a watchmaker, an engraver, textile specialists, a brickmaker, designers and decorators. It results in a bubbling laboratory for creative innovation, which inevitably reflects on the sustainable protection and future of rare crafts. Pictured: installation by textile designer Pauline Dornat and wool specialist Françoise Lesage, who harvest materials from local animal herds. Until 20 August, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67 (Ixelles)

Brussels in Bloom

Brussels in Bloom is a free urban trail that invites visitors to tour floral installation decorating the streets surrounding the Grand Place. The third edition includes a special display in the inner courtyard of the town hall that pays tribute to Belgium’s surrealist master Magritte. No reservation required for the 30-minute tour that is signposted from the town hall courtyard. 1 to 15 August, city centre


The Bruxellons! festival’s popular production of West Side Story has been extended to 31 August. Don’t miss the classic Bernstein and Sondheim musical comedy set in New York in the 1950s. It’s full of spectacular dance action and a fitting highlight to the festival’s 25th anniversary programme. Set in the waterside grounds of Karreveld castle, the location of this summer-long event is an urban green haven. Until 24 September, Château du Karreveld (Molenbeek-Saint-Jean)

Recylcart closing party

Recyclart Holidays marks the end of its summer programme with an all nighter closing party. The LOSEBUMPS line-up consists of hard dance, queer rave, hybrid club music with Legit Girl, 3DMA, Transmascwhore + kikisauvag, Ketia and Legit Girl. 28 July 23.00-5.00, Rue de Manchester 13 (Molenbeek)


(c)Courtesy Night of the Proms

The original Night of the Proms sells out so fast it’s tough to get a ticket, but the open-air Summer Edition is out of the way enough to let you go last minute. It’s the same concept – classical orchestra meets pop artists both old and new – with Irish singer Johnny Logan and English musician Mark King topping the bill. You’ll also see several local performers like Laura Tesoro and the legendary Sandra Kim, the only Belgian to ever win the Eurovision Song Contest. The backdrop of the three-hour extravaganza is the Onze-Lieve-Vrouw church in Koksijde, a striking work of modernist architecture and worth a peek inside if you get the chance. 28 & 29 July, Kerkplein 1, Koksijde

Libramont agricultural fair

The largest outdoor agricultural fair in Europe celebrates rural life in the Belgian Ardennes and beyond. Libramont Fair once again shows off its agricultural know-how to visitors from home and abroad with animals, farming, forestry and food all on display. The 87th edition continues the fair’s sustainability mission. It boasts 700 exhibitors and is expected to draw 200,000 visitors. 28-31 July, Rue des Aubépines 50, Libramont (Luxembourg province)

(c)Courtesy Colourfest

If you can’t take the crowds at the average music festival, check out the laid back Colourfest in Kalmthout. The band Colour plays and invites some of its favourite bands to join them in a big field in rural Antwerp province. The sound system is rudimentary, but it’s all free, reservations are not required, the food is homemade, and the vibes are groovy. 29 July, Kruisstraat 39, Kalmthout

(c)Courtesy Suikerrock

Tienen in Flemish Brabant produces sugar, inspiring the name Suikerrock for the town’s big summer rock & pop festival. It even takes place on the grounds of the sugar refinery. Big local names pepper the line-up, including Bazart, Coëly and Arsenal, joining Saturday headliner Franz Ferdinand (pictured). Sweet! 4-6 August, Bietenweg, Tienen


A free festival at the Belgian coast, Retro Sur Mer brings together a vintage market, old-timey cars, retro makeovers and a family day with rockabilly music. Prepare to boogie on the boardwalk to local and international bands like Belgium’s Love Me Tender and Australia’s Adam Hall and the Velvet Playboys. 28-30 July, Graaf Jansdijk, Wenduine (De Haan)


Floreffe Abbey near Namur hosts the world music extravaganza Esperanzah! A programme of activities plus a feast of specialist food outlets support the festival’s social and ethical mission. An exceptional line-up of musical artists this year include Chilly Gonzales, Pomme (pictured) and La Femme. The beautiful and historic abbey is a perfect venue for this relaxed and colourful event and the weekend festival promises to be another classic. 27-30 July, Floreffe Abbey, Rue du Séminaire 7, Floreffe (Namur)


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. Until 30 July, Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28, Leuven

Nuit des Choeurs Gents of St John's

Book now Villers Abbey is transformed into a choral festival in the traditional end-of-summer event Nuits des Choeurs. Six different choirs, each with a distinctive style, perform in various atmospheric nooks and crannies of the ruins of the Cistercian abbey. Each evening show is brought to a close with a spectacular finale as all of the Belgian and international ensembles take to the stage before a firework display lights up the skies above the heritage site. Booking necessary. Pictured: The Gents of St John’s College University of Cambridge, who’ll be performing in Villers. 25 & 26 August, Rue de l’Abbaye 55, Villers-la-Ville (Brabant Walloon)

Photos: Summer Wonders and Summer Pop, @courtesty city of Brussels; @Fondation Boghossian Duos en Resonances Francoise Lesage and Pauline Dornat; @Courtesy Night of the Proms; @Courtesy Colourfest; @Courtesy Suikerrock; @retro sur mer cradar events; @m-idzomer diederik craps

Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw