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What’s on this week: 6-12 May

16:04 05/05/2022
Belgium is brimming with cultural activities and events as you’ll discover in our bumper online agenda

The Iris Festival is Brussels' biggest open-air extravaganza and promises to be even more of a festive celebration as the city-wide event returns to its pre-pandemic format. One highlight of the 33rd edition is the Electro Night at Place des Palais on Saturday - the first free outdoor event in the capital since the lifting of corona measures (previous edition pictured, main image). Other activities include the garden cities centenary, family-friendly Party in the Park in Brussels park, the Iris Food Corner with 40 food trucks, street theatre and a parade of vintage trams. 7 & 8 May, across Brussels

EU open day

Coinciding with Brussels’ Iris Festival, the European Institutions open their doors to the public on Saturday for a sneak peek into the workings of the EU bubble. There’s also concerts and performances on the esplanade and Cinqunatenaire park. Don’t miss the return of the Fête du Pain at the Schuman roundabout; a neighbourhood party that transforms the neglected public space into a convivial bread festival. Europe Day follows on Monday, a commemoration of the signing of the Schuman Declaration on 9 May 1950. In an act of solidarity with the war-torn country, Ukraine is one focus for this year’s edition with concerts and performances in Cinquantenaire park on Saturday and Monday. Another is a spotlight on young people as part of the 2022 European Year of Youth. 7 May 10-18.00, Berlaymont & Cinquantenaire park; 10.00-21.00 (Fête du Pain) Schuman roundabout; 9 May 12.30-14.00, Cinquantenaire park

The Weeping Woods and the Okapi Resistance

The 27th edition of Kunstenfestivaldesarts kicks off with a festive opening weekend packed with performances. It includes a free opening party with MC Yallah & Debmaster (live), Wutangu, Liyo and Kappen at festival hub Kaaitheater. While the international contemporary arts bonanza is dedicated to theatre, dance and music, it also explores film and visual arts, boasting some 35 shows in venues and public spaces around the city. Not only does KFDA draw artists from around the world, it’s a rich platform for performers from both of Belgium’s language communities. This weekend, catch Okwui Okpokwasili’s mythical Bronx Gothic performance, the world premiere of Marlene Monteiro Freitas' solo idiota and Daniela Ortiz’s free show (pictured) in Cinquantenaire park. 7-28  May, multiple venues

When Walls Talk “Hark! Hark! The dogs do bark!”, Johnson, Riddle & Co. 1914

A century of European history in 150 posters, from war propaganda to social activism. This is the idea behind When Walls Talk, a new exhibition at the House of European History. Check out ads by the Polish travel industry, Hungarian rail safety warnings and artistic collages criticising communism. A colourful and unique look at how individuals and businesses responded to a changing continent. Until 13 November, Rue Belliard 135

Queen Elisabeth Competition

The prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition is dedicated to the cello for only the second time in its long and illustrious history. The first rounds kick off at Flagey, while the final will be hosted by Bozar. A total of 68 candidates from around the world are competing in the internationally-renowned contest. Two contemporary pieces have been written for them: one for cello and piano composed by Daan Janssens for the semi-final, the other for cello and orchestra, composed by Jörg Widmann for the final. You can also follow the competition on national TV and radio stations. 9 May-4 June, Flagey (Place Sainte-Croix) & Bozar (Rue Ravenstein)

Jems marionette festival

A marionette festival? Count us in. This puppetry art form is celebrated over five weekends during the Jem Marionette Festival. Nearly all the performances take place on the grounds of the Du Peruchet International Marionette Museum, and many of them are classics, such as Pinocchio and Le Guarattelle de Pulcinella. They are all staged in the original language, from English to Italian to Slovenian, but organisers promise that everyone will know what’s going on through the puppetry itself. Read The Bulletin's feature on the festival5 May-6 June, Avenue de la Forêt (Ixelles)

Parcours d'Artistes Saint-Gilles (c)Laura Lafon

It’s easy to just happen upon works that are part of the Parcours d'Artistes Saint-Gilles biennial – a freely accessible art trail scattered across the municipality – but we recommend you spend a day wandering from one site to another, discovering the municipality as much as the artists who work there. This year the theme is passing something on, whether that’s a tradition, language or DNA. Accessible over two weekends and two nocturnes, the event also includes interventions and performance in public space. 6-15 May, across Saint-Gilles

Be-Here Brussels Artisan Market

Community hub Be-Here’s second monthly Brussels Artisan Market is an opportunity for the public to meet the centre’s entrepreneurs, Greenbizz and some 40 artisans in the capital, including Gudule, Brussels urban winery. You can also discover stands with illustrations, jewellery, textiles, plants, cosmetics and naturally, there’s plenty of tasty and original food and drink options. The free event is family-friendly with a bouncy castle and a magician. 7 May 11.00-19.00, 4 Rue Dieudonné Lefèvre (Laeken)

Plan Tour & Taxis

Kids are in for a treat at the canalside Stadskriebels Festival this Sunday, as pop-up-pool FLOW becomes the biggest ball pool in Brussels (Biestebroek site). The event – at three locations along the canal - offers a diverse programme of sports activities for the whole family, including urban hip-hop, football, gaming, circus fun and beach games. 8 May, 11.00-18.00, Tour & Taxis, Ninoofsepoort and Biestebroek

City Garden

Pick up some seasonal flowers and plants at the second edition of City Garden in the EU quarter this weekend. Organised by the European Citizens Corner – ACCJM, the market offers a large selection of indoor and outdoor plants. Free entrance. 6 & 7 May, 10.00-21.00; 8 May, 11.00-16.00, Rue Stévin 142 & 144


One of the capital’s finest and certainly most eclectic collections of contemporary art, Galila’s P.O.C, is unveiled to the public in two upcoming guided tours. Galila Barzilaï' is a passionate buyer of artworks; the collection groups numerous themes presented in the form of a cabinet of curiosities. The Bulletin has tickets to give away for both visits (in Eng & Fr). 14 May & 4 June 10.30 Avenue Van Volxem 295 (Forest)


Ocean’s Odyssey 2030 The Musical is the second project by a bunch of creative schoolkids at Bogaerts International School, telling the story about the environmental threat to the seas and oceans. The musical combines storytelling, original songs, scientific research and hand-drawn artwork to tell the story of zebrafish Timmy, who dies after eating a plastic bag and becoming entangled in a face mask. Get tickets for the show here. 12 May 19.00, Uccle Cultural Centre, Rue Rouge 47

Outside Brussels

Tervuren Arboretum

The next outing of the Guided Tours for Internationals, sponsored by the province of Flemish Brabant, is an enlightening walk around the Arboretum of Tervuren. So many people in Brussels have never been to this treasure of a forest, with more than 700 species of trees from Europe, Asia and the Americas. Learn all about what makes them special – from the world’s tallest sequoias to the 20-year-old leaves of Chile’s monkey-puzzle tree. 8 May 14.00

Wael Shawky 2, photo by Dirk Pauwels

Artist Wael Shawky grew up in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and saw first-hand the reluctant transition from ‘dry culture’ – desert nomads – to ‘wet culture’, named for its reliance on irrigation on fixed agricultural land. He explores this economic shift in multi-disciplinary works at the M Museum, a colourful world of larger-than-life installations, marionettes and woodcuts based on Egyptian tales. Until 28 August, Leopold Vanderkelenstraat 28, Leuven


Nature and art come together during Biënnale Natura Inspiratus 2022 at Meise Botanical Garden. It follows three different art trails to come upon installations inspired by the sensational garden’s thousands of species of plants, flowers and trees. Whether disembodied feet in the grass or a pair of giant ants, the works – all created by artists aged 50 and over – are engaging and unique. The event is free with a ticket to the garden. Until 30 September, Nieuwelaan 38, Meise

Pete Doherty

Dive into British culture at new festival Everything UK in Ghent. Organised by the city’s music club Democrazy and anglophile journalist Ben Van Alboom, seven British bands including Pete Doherty (pictured) and 18 films participate in the event, designed to showcase some of the UK’s best indie culture. Concerts are staged at Handelsbeurs, Charlatan and Theresia; films are screened at Sphinx. The Bulletin has tickets to give away for three of the films in the programme. 10-21 May, multiple venues, Ghent

Ykons Inc'Rock

Inc’Rock is one of the season’s early bird outdoor music events, with various rock, pop, hip-hop and chanson acts gathering near the lake in the Walloon-Brabant village of Incourt. A diverse line-up features Belgian female duo Juicy, Ykons (pictured), Saule and Kendji Girac (Fr) among others, promising a sparkling launch to the upcoming Belgian festival programme. 6-8 May, Carrière d’Opprebais, Incourt

Costa Lefkochir

Greek-born Liège artist Costa Lefkochir is honoured in this major retrospective The progression of a journey. The painter and sculptor, born in Crete in 1952, moved to Belgium at the age of 18, where he studied at the city’s fine arts academy. After opening the Orphéa art gallery in Liège, he was successively influenced by artists in Barcelona and Benin, slowly adopting a monochromatic palette. 6 May-7 August, La Boverie, Parc de la Boverie 3, Liège



Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw