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Brussels to celebrate national holiday in style on 21 July
After muted celebrations over the past two years due to the pandemic, Brussels is ready to party in style for Belgium's national holiday on 21 July.
The festivities promise a mix of traditional favourites, such as the popular ball and national resto in the Marolles, joined by new events, a concert and firework display in Cinquantenaire park.
Celebrations kick off on the evening of 20 July with the national ball on the Place du Jeu de Balle with entertainment paying tributes to two local figures who passed away in the past year, Grand Jojo and Freddy Thielemans.
Brussels mayor Philippe Close recalls his mentor who helped boost the popularity of the event: "I suspected Freddy Thielemans of wanting to do the show. Sometimes he had to be forced to come down from the podium."
Jazz legend Toots Thielemans will also be honoured as part of a centenary programme of events dedicated to the musician this year. His famous piece ‘Bluesette’ will be whistled by an expected audience of 20,000. "It could be a world record," comments president of the Bal National Frank Anthierens.
Meanwhile, friends of Grand Jojo will come together to celebrate the national day hero. Also on the programme are Johnny Hallyday look-alike Alec Mansion, the DJ Crazy Sir-G and cover band The Amazing Flowers.
Flea market, mussels, fries and karaoke
From 8.00 on 21 July, the Brol National on the Place du Jeu de Balle offers a Belgian version of the famous flea market. “It’s an opportunity to return the favour to the antique dealers of the old market,” says Anthierens. In the afternoon, it's time for the national restaurant get-together around mussels and fries. The outdoor event runs until 17.00. An addition to the menu is sausage stoemp, one of local boy Toots’ favourite dishes. The party will end with a flourish with a giant Zingt karaoke.
In the city-centre, the big draw is the Party in the Park. "We want to rediscover the spirit of the party and encourage Belgians to come to Brussels", says Carine Verstraeten of Brussels Promotion.
Along with the return of the event in the royal park, complete with plenty of kids’ activities, public buildings will be open, including the federal parliament, law courts and Bozar. The civil and military parade in front of the royal palace is scheduled for 16.00. Maps with QR codes show the full programme and itinerary.
A new addition to the national day programme is a free concert at the esplanade of Cinquantenaire park, followed by the annual firework display. The musical programme is aimed at a younger audience. Starting at 21.00, artists such as Alice on the Roof, Coely, Typh Barrow, Salvatore Adamo, Henri PFR and Jérémie Makiese all take to the stage.
A DJ set will keep spectators entertained until the traditional firework show at 23.00. The event will also be broadcast on national TV channels.
Photos: National day celebrations (2018) © Visitbrussels/Eric Danhier