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What’s on this week: 8-14 September

16:26 07/09/2023
The new cultural season kicks off with an explosion of arts, events, exhibitions and festivals

The free BD Comic Strip Festival is a cheerful, colourful delight for fans of the ninth art. Giant balloons dot Gare Maritime, bobbing above exhibitions, signing sessions, markets, author talks, workshops and characters straight from your favourite local and international comics. While much emphasis is placed on Belgian strips, there is a section for manga, and the International Pavilion hosts artists from Europe, Asia, Cuba, Africa and Russia. Head’s up: Friday is Schools Day, so there will be a lot of youngsters. 8-10 September, Rue Picard 7

Flowdan (c)Courtesy Synchronicity Agendy

The big summer arts festival at Vaux-Hall is officially over, but you get another chance to jive amid the magical atmosphere during Kiosk Radio’s Woodblocks Festival. You know Kiosk from their usual spot in the middle of Brussels Park, so they don’t have far to go to host this eclectic line-up of local and international musicians. East London grime boss Flowdan (pictured), Brussels’ Le Motel and Malian underground icon Moesha 13 are just a few acts that will take to the unique scaffolding stages. 9-10 September, Rue de la Loi 3


Bugatti was a hyper luxury car brand that teamed ace racing credentials with sleek design. Admire some of its high-performance automobiles in the exhibition Bugatti Unseen at Autoworld Museum. Some 15 mythical models are on show, including the sole and unique La Voiture Noire, inspired by Jean Bugatti’s personal car that disappeared just before WWII. Among contemporary hyper cars on display are the famous Veyron and Chiron. 8 September to 5 November, Esplanade, Cinquantenaire Park

Brussels Food Festival

More than 30 world cuisine food trucks gather in Auderghem for the Brussels Food Festival this weekend. All selected for their quality and originality, the tasty dishes can be enjoyed at a giant terrace set up for the culinary feast. Free entrance. 8-10 September, Friday 18.00-23.00; Saturday 11.00-23.00; Sunday 11.00-21.00, Boulevard du Souverain 183 (opposite Auderghem cultural centre)

©Brussels Gallery Weekend & @antoninweber 25

Brussels Gallery Weekend (BGW) showcases the capital’s lively art scene with 45 galleries participating in this 16th edition. Add on 14 institutions in the off programme and that’ss one busy event calendar. Don’t miss Generation Brussels, an exhibition by emerging artists yet to find gallery representation. Download BGW’s 2023 map (handily divided into different neighbourhoods) or pick up a copy at the Meeting Point. It’s also possible to book a guide to tour the event. Until 10 September, multiple locations around the city; Meeting Point: Rue du Prévôt 82 (Ixelles)

KANAL Facade

The opening celebrations of Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven’s Façade at KANAL roll on with a second weekend of live and DJ events plus a screenings at the former K1 nightclub, now Atelier KANAL. For the Nightshift event, the canalside venue presents Lyra Pramuk, Eerwan Sene and Zeta Lys on Friday night, and Crystallmess, Space Afrika, oxhy, HE4RTBROKEN and Valentin Noujaïm on Saturday night.  8-9 September, Avenue du Port 1


It’s one of the flagship events in Brussels’ contemporary art calendar this autumn. After representing Flanders for the Belgian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2022, Francis Alÿs presents a new and more comprehensive version of the exhibition, The Nature of the Game at Wiels. The show documents children playing in public places around the world. It’s also the first time that the Belgian-born, Mexico-based multidisciplinary artist returns to the contemporary art centre after his retrospective 12 years ago. Until 7 January, Avenue Van Volxem (Forest)


Feral 2023

Re-think how public space can be shared with nature at Feral 2023: 10 days of activities with the School of Nomadic Urbanism plus two days of international discussion on the role of art in urban life. The nomadic school was set up by Stalker, an Italian collective of artists, activists and walkers and is  based at Wiels marsh, a wild space in the heart of the city. Participants need to register for the festival’s various activities, including talks, walks, performances and workshops. 9-17 September, multiple locations

Design September Adam Kvaček ©Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design

Explore the captivating world of paper art, hear how design affects mobility – and vice-versa – or discover the blurred boundaries between fashion and fine art photography. You can do it all during Brussels Design September, where more than 100 events and activities come together to show us just how influential design is in shaping what we see, what we buy and how we move through our daily lives. One of the highlights is the Brussels Design Market, the largest market dedicated to vintage design in Europe. 12-30 September, multiple locations

Courtesy Sablon Design Market 2

While Brussels Design September takes over the capital this month, Sablon Design Market is a separate event and well worth a stroll around. Design and vintage meet among Belgian designers selling home decor, jewellery, fashion and art, while the focus of the 6th edition is firmly on furniture. There something for every budget and an inspiring and diverse selection, making it tough not to whip out your wallet at least once. 8-10 September, Grand Sablon


Bozar launches its cultural season with fizz and style. All over the Palace offers five days of festive events in hidden corners of the sprawling arts centre. From the grand Art Nouveau Horta and Henry Le Boeuf halls to the rooftop patio, discover a variety of events that serve as a taster to the cultural season. Among them are author talks, screenings of Spanish shorts, steamy jazz, a family day and closing concerts, plus free admission to the Antoni Tàpies and Harlem Fantasy exhibitions. 13-17 September, Rue Ravenstein 23


“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough," pronounced war photographer Robert Capa in 1947. This statement by the founder of the Magnum Agency is reflected in its 75th anniversary exhibition Close Enough, 12 women photographers of Magnum at Hangar Photo Art Center. Curated by Charlotte Cotton, it shows how a new generation approach their subjects, often achieving proximity by slowly gaining trust over years. It’s a powerful snapshot of contemporary photography. Parallel exhibition Rising Circles by architect, photographer and artist Georges Rousse focuses on the 12 years of his career devoted to the circle, one of the most powerful symbols in the world. 8 September to 16 December, Place du Châtelain 18 (Ixelles)

Marni Jazz Festival

The Marni Jazz Festival is getting ready to entertain music fans with a series of concerts in Brussels showcasing one of the genre’s most distinctive musical instruments. This year, it’s the turn of the double bass to star in the popular annual event. Five concerts, including a carte blanche evening, all see the string instrument take centre stage. As ever, the festival welcomes renowned Belgian musicians who have selected emerging talents from home and abroad to join them onstage. 14-22 September, Marni theatre, Rue de Vergnies 25 (Ixelles)

Belga image

Cheers all round, Belgian Beer World is finally opening its doors! Following years of renovation, the Bourse is celebrating its new identity by welcoming the public on Saturday for a slew of festive activities. The Unesco-recognised monument now not only serves as a gateway between the pedestrian centre and the Grand Place, its top two floors house the centre devoted  history of Belgian beer. Among the many events, there’s workshops, exhibitions, dance and guided tours (in Fr/NL). Sign up for the latter at the info point on Rue du Midi. 9 September 12.00-21.00, Place de la Bourse


The International Study Group starts its new season with a topical talk on Peace and Security in the Indo-Pacific. Dr Claude Rakisits addresses the geo-political fault lines critical to the process and the numerous structures in place to meet present and future challenges in the region. The academic and South Asia expert is a visiting fellow at VUB and honorary professor at the Australian National University. Free for members, €10 for guests. 11 September 10.30 (welcome 10.00), Château Malou, Allée Pierre Levie 2 (Woluwe Saint-Lambert)


Yoga, pilates, guided walks, coffee mornings, art and language classes, jewellery-making workshops, full-day excursions... If any of these interest you, pop along to the Brussels Women's Club Open Day.  It's the perfect opportunity to meet up with other English-speaking women and find out more about the 30+ monthly activities on offer. Enjoy light lunches and cakes on sale at the clubhouse’s cafe. 14 September 10.00-13.00, Rue au Bois 509  (Woluwe Saint-Pierre)


Community and ideas hub Full Circle celebrates its upcoming Season 11 with a free Launch Party. Discover the club’s new programme, including thinkers, doers, activists, artists, musicians, and more. Free attendance, registration obligatory. Enjoy some lively conversations over drinks. 15 September 19.00-22.00, Full Circle House, Chaussée de Vleurgat 89 (Ixelles)

Outside Brussels

Journées Patrimoines Wallonie Ecole communale de Jauche

Traditionally, Wallonia’s Heritage Days adopts a unifying theme for its open-door event and activities. This year, it is targeting youngsters, from little ones to teenagers. Future generations aims to encourage them to discover heritage treasures around the region. The 39th edition is inaugurated in the border town of Bouillon (Luxembourg province) with a spectacular sound and light show illuminating its ancient castle (currently sold out, but visitors can soak up the atmosphere in the streets winding up the medieval site). Throughout the weekend, activities are free but some require prior reservation. 9-10 September, across Wallonia


Heritage Day or Open Monument Day in Flanders boasts over 1,000 activities, 200 more than last year. Half of them are related to intangible heritage, such as brass bands, religious customs or craftsmanship. The theme "with heart and soul" is a nod to the 2003 Unesco Convention, which has been responsible for this less-publicised type of heritage for 20 years. The host city for this year’s edition is Sint-Niklaas in East Flanders. Its new museum Curiosum in Huis Janssens will be partially opened for the occasion. 10 September, across Flanders

Groot-Bijgaarden kasteel

It’s harvest season at Groot-Bijgaarden castle with Pumpkinmania running until the end of the autumn half-term. The estate’s park is transformed into ‘pumpkin land’ with the colourful and versatile vegetable popping up in various guises, from dino-sculpted pumpkins to bowls of delicious soup along with themed family activities each weekend. 8 September to 5 November, 11.00-18.00 (closed on Monday), Isidoor van Beverenstraat 5 (Groot-Bijgaarden)

Silver Triennial (c)Courtesy Goldschmiedehaus

The German-based Silver Triennial is an international competition rewarding the most innovative, beautiful and unexpected use of silver in design, both utilitarian and artistic. Of the more than 120 entries, Belgian David Huycke won second place. His “Cosmic Bubbles” (pictured) – both functional and beautiful – is an interpretation of the granulation technique and a reference to the little sculptured Delfware boxes with fruit lids produced in the 18th century. It is on display at Diva Museum, along with many other works by prize-winners and finalists. Until 8 October, Suikerrui 17, Antwerp

(c)Courtesy Voodoo Village 2

Can you shoehorn in another music festival this year? Then check out Voodoo Village, greatly expanded this year to six stages hosting international house, techno, soul and disco music. Half the fun of Voodoo is its location at the Graven Castle on the outskirts of Grimbergen, a magical spot at any time, but even more so with lighting – fairytale or laser, depending on where you’re standing. There is also a zone dedicated to holistic experiences like the Cocoa Ceremony and Loving Touch. And don’t forget to reserve for the star chef menu. 9-10 September, ’S Gravenkasteel, Warandestraat 100, Humbeek (Grimbergen)


Celebrating their 100th edition, the annual Fêtes de Wallonie are revving up for five days of colourful traditional folklore, free concerts, entertainment and merrymaking. The main hub for Les Wallos regional capital Namur with musical stages set up in public squares around the city. There’s also a packed programme in Charleroi, Liège, La Louvière and plenty of other towns. Warning: The pekèt will be flowing and Walloon dialect songs ringing out. 14-18 September, across Wallonia


Discover the diversity of independent film in the annual arthouse cinema promotion J’peux pas j’ai cinema. During the month of September, some 21,000 cinema places are available for just €1 in 34 movie houses in Brussels and Wallonia. The initiative by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation aims to encourage indy cinema attendance among youngsters and people less familiar with the genre. Reserve up to two discounted seats online (four for family films). A new batch of films are available each week. Until 30 September, multiple cinemas across Brussels and Wallonia

Photos: (main image) BD ©Jean Paul Remy, Visit Brussels; ©Brussels Gallery Weekend & @antoninweber; KANAL Facade - Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven; Children’s-Game-Step-on-a-Crack-Hong-Kong-2020-In-collaboration-with-Félix-Blume-Julien-Devaux-and-Rafael-Ortega; Design September Adam Kvaček ©Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design; ©A plane files low over students riding a train at a funfair over the weekend. Istanbul, Turkey © Sabiha Çimen/Magnum Photos; Marni Jazz Festival-2023 montage_hori; Brussels Beer World ©Belga/Hatim Kaghat; Courtesy Journées Patrimoines Wallonie (Facebook) Ecole communale de Jauche; Courtesy Groot-Bijgaarden Castle Pumpkinmania; Silver Triennial ©Courtesy Goldschmiedehaus; ©Courtesy Voodoo Village; Courtesy Fêtes de Wallonie (Facebook)

Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw