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Culture beat – August 1

10:29 01/08/2014
It’s an action packed weekend in Belgium as world leaders and European royals arrive for WWI centenary, plus family events and world music

Italian café/bookshop Piloa.libri is open this evening (Friday) before heading off on holiday. It re-opens on August 21 for a literary evening and serving food and wine from August 27.

The sales may be coming to an end but there’s no risk of shopping fatigue with the Brussels Vintage Market open for business at Halles-Saint Géry and he Dansaert quarter on Sunday morning, 12.00-19.00. Popping up on the first weekend of every month, this is the place for retro threads and original clothes from young designers.

Cartoon fans of all ages are promised an evening of entertainment at the Belgian Comic Strip Center when the museum hosts its first BD night on August 8 from 19.00-1.30. Storytelling, live music, and screenings, both short and feature-length. The Balkans are guest country with an exhibition dedicated to 100 years of comic strip in the southeast European region. The museum’s brasserie is open all evening. Adults €10 (presale €8), under-12s €5 (presale €3).

Discover hidden treasures in the Forêt de Soignes, daily, 9.00-19.00, in a four to six kilometre walk in the woods that wrap around the southern suburbs of the city. Stumble up secret parks, statues and other unexpected places and objects. Allow three hours for the walk and bring a GSM (sat nav). Depart from 1 Chemin du Reservoir, 1180 Uccle, cost €15 per team.

Outside Brussels

WWI Liège

This weekend signals the start of official commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. It was on August 4, 1914 that German troops invaded neutral Belgium in the province of Liège, triggering Britain’s declaration of war and entry into the conflict. As part of a global act of remembrance major ceremonies will take place in Liège and Mons on August 4 in the presence of world leaders and Belgian and British royal families.

In Liège the commemorative weekend (August 2 to 4) kicks off on Saturday with a themed programme Ambiance 1914. It recreates the flavour of the period with outdoor screenings, a popular ball, giant trivial pursuit game, flea market, horse and carriage rides, street theatre, performances, photo competition, re-enactment of 1914-18 military camps, traditional dance and flypasts by the Belgian Air Force. Among the major exhibitions starting this weekend under the banner Liège Expo 14-18 are ‘I Was 20 in 14’ at the Liège-Guillemins train station and ‘Liège in Torment’ at Musée de la vie wallonne.

WWI Mons

Mons had a key role in commemorations as the first skirmish of the war between British (British Expeditionary Forces) and German forces took place at the nearby Nimy bridge on August 22, 1914. The first two Victoria Crosses of the war were awarded at the Battle of Mons and soldiers from both sides are buried at Saint-Symphorien cemetery, south of Mons, and the site of the second memorial on Monday. Four years later on November 11, 1918, Canadian troops liberated the city. A Canadian was the last soldier of the British forces to lose his life in the war which is why Mons is known as The First and the Last.

A guided tour (in English and French) of the Battle of Mons sites is now running every weekend until September 14, Saturday and Sunday, from 14.00-17.00; extra tours at 10.00 on August 4 & 23. Adults €18, children €12. The three-hour tour, in an original red double decker bus, includes Nimy bridge, Casteau, Mons and Saint-Symphorien cemeteries. Due to heightened security, the bus tours from August 1 to 4 do not include the Saint-Symphorien cemetery. Departure from the tourist office in the Grand-Place. Tel for information.

One of the abiding legends surrounding the battle was the Angel of Mons, a cloud formation which apparently guided retreating British forces to safety. From August 1 to 24 a free sound and light experience descends on Mons’s Grand Place (centred on the city hall) every evening (except August 4) at 22.00.

Esperanzah! music festival

The music festival Esperanzah! is reputed for singing to a greener tune and championing global music. This year’s edition is no exception as it welcomes musicians of all stripes, famed and lesser-known, to the fantastic setting of Floreffe Abbey in Namur province until Sunday. Taglined ‘Another world is possible’, the friendly festival offers a diverse programme, including: Les Ambassadeurs (Salif Keita/Cheick Tidiane Seck/Amadou Bagayoko), Danakil, Bargou 08 and Kery James on Saturday; Ayo, Fauve Fugu Mango and Badi on Sunday. With sustainable development campaigns, street theatre, world cuisine, riverbank camping and hopefully a serious dose of sunshine, there’s a lot to like!

Pinocchio review

It’s worth risking a summer shower for the highly entertaining family show Pinocchio at Villers la-Ville abbey, thrilling crowds until August 9. Each year the 13th-century Cistercian abbey in Brabant Walloon is the backdrop for a dramatic outdoor spectacle. This adaptation by Patrick de Longrée may be suitable all ages (eight and up), but it’s no Disney version. Despite the magical costumes and exuberant energy of the multi-role cast, the play is closer to the original and far darker story by Carlo Collodi. Maroine Amini turns in a star performance as the wooden puppet boy who goes in search of adventure. He is supported by regulars Pascal Racan, Marc De Roy and Denis Carpentier, while Stephen Shank directs. Arrive early for pre-show refreshments, including abbey beer, at Le Moulins de Villers.