Coastal resort Knokke-Heist boasts three flagship art events among its attractions this autumn
Belgium’s chic seaside resort Knokke-Heist is a colourful all-year-round destination. Visitors can of course head to the beach – a vast stretch of sandy shoreline – and whatever the weather, take advantage of a full programme of alternative entertainment.
In addition to three outstanding art-orientated events lined up this autumn, the North Sea resort overflows with attractions, appealing to a wide range of interests.
The town is divided into five distinct districts, each with their own character and flavour. Knokke is a lively place, the heart of the municipality with grand hotels, hip nightclubs and a mecca for designer shops. Heist is popular with families, attracted by the former fishing village’s quieter lifestyle. Zoute remains the epitome of elegance, a green quarter that has always attracted a wealthy clientele. Duinbergen once drew symbolist artists and authors and is now a trendy place to stay. Polders offers an abundance of nature and sand dunes; the region of grassy tidal mudflats contains the stunning De Zwin nature reserve.
Knokke-Heist is already a proven destination for art lovers. As well as its 90 plus art galleries, public art is a major feature of the landscape with numerous masterpieces scattered around the coastline.
From statues to murals and beach installations, visitors are continually surprised by the works by leading Belgian and international artists that pop up in unexpected locations. Look out for Folon’s The sea, that amazing sculptor rising out of the tide, the dune-set bronze lifeguard sculpture Socorristas, Gormley’s Another Time cast-iron statue looking out to sea from a breakwater, Flanagan’s leaping hare sculpture Hospitality, and Tomorrow Man (pictured) by Catherine Francois, a figure that is literally exposed to the elements.
So take your pick from energising outdoor activities, upmarket shopping, gourmet restaurants and beachside bars when visiting the seaside town, as well as these upcoming cultural happenings.
The open gallery weekend showcases the town’s exemplary art credentials as one of Belgium’s leading destinations for contemporary art. The annual event attracts not only an army of serious art collectors, but everyone passionate about discovering the best visual art around as well as plenty of curious onlookers. Some 49 galleries open their doors and are ready to share their passion for cutting-edge visual arts in a series of special shows (Crown Gallery, work by Caeiro Manuel pictured). 29 & 30 October, art galleries across the municipality
Get ready for a feast of contemporary art, dance and musical performance at this evening dedicated to experimental visual expression. A collaboration between Knokke-Heist and Brussels-based WIELS contemporary art center, together they stage an exceptional evening dedicated to cutting-edge arts in the magnificent setting of the resort’s seafront casino. The Art-Deco influenced architectural landmark is already an arty destination, boasting large-scale artworks by Keith Haring, Paul Delvaux and René Magritte.
At this annual multidisciplinary event, treat yourself to an exciting programme featuring work and performances by Nan Goldin, Annie-Mie Van Kerckhoven & Crayon Moon, Anna Franziska Jäger & Nathan Ooms, Xavier Garcia Bardon/Exprmntl, Jack Smith, Marijke de Roover, Benjamin Kahn and Jean Lurçat. 29 October, 16.00-22.30 (DJ until 1.00), Grand Casino Knokke, Zeedijk-Albertstrand 509
Koen Vanmechelen: Cosmpolitan Renaissance
The internationally-renowned and award-winning Flemish artist invites visitors to experience his unique and diverse artistic universe in his new exhibition, curated by art historian Jo Coucke. Vanmechelen sees himself as a migrant who travels the world in search of answers to questions pertinent in today’s society, from diversity and globalisation to human rights. His explorations, focused on how humans can live sustainably with animal species and the environment, are reflected in the enigmatic artworks and projects on display in this new show. Recent drawings, paintings, glass and marble sculpture are enhanced by a programme of live performance, video and installations (Couveuse by Koen Manmechelen pictured). 29 October-15 January, Cultuurcentrum Scharpood, Maxim Willemspad 1