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Culture beat - August 14
Yes, we have already written in great detail about the Brussels Summer Festival. If you haven’t been yet, it’s not too late – far from it. The bad news first: Belgian metal legends Channel Zero, who headline the festival tonight, have lost their drummer Phil Baheux, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 45. Tonight’s concert will be an acoustic – and no doubt somber - affair augmented by photos and pictures of the late sticksman. Onto something a bit more cheerful: up-and-coming Belgian post-punk outfit Billions Of Comrades (pictured), who nothing seems to be able to stop, play the Magic Mirrors stage on Thursday at 20.30. Beware: their quirky, angular funk-tinged songs, somewhere between Bloc Party and A Certain Ratio, are awfully infectious. Finally, if you like ska and Madness (“yes” being the correct answer to both), don’t miss Lee Thompson’s Ska Orchestra on the Mont des Arts on Friday at 20.30.
Every year the Royal Palace of Brussels (not to be confused with the Royal Palace of Laken, on the leafy outskirts of the capital) invites the public in for a free, month-long open house. The beautiful neoclassical building has been the Belgian sovereign’s office since the position was created in 1830, but the palace itself is even older than that. The earliest structure built on the site dates back to the Middle Ages. For all that, the royal family isn’t looking backward. The theme of this year’s open house is science and technology. The Science Policy Office is on-hand to explain their role in Belgian society. The event is also held in conjunction with the interactive exhibition Aha at Mechelen’s science centre Technopolis. There is a little room for nostalgia here, in the form of an exhibition of children’s drawings spanning the 20 years of King Albert II’s reign. Until September 8
Missed out on tickets for Stromae’s forthcoming tour? Or maybe you have your tickets but you want to see more of him? The Belgian dance sensation will be doing a signing session at FNAC Toison d’Or on Wednesday August 21 at 10.00, for the release of his new album, Racine Carrée. That’s ten in the morning, so how you swing this one past your boss is your problem, not ours.
Head south to the picturesque Gaume region this weekend and enter the magical world of Chassepierre international street arts festival, celebrating its 40th edition. On Saturday and Sunday the village is taken over by 200 artists: acrobats, jugglers, actors and fantasy creatures, all intent on entertaining young and old alike. Among the 50 professional companies, Bedlam Oz from the UK presents its show of dancing slinkies (pictured). Distractions are not limited to the visual; an artisan food market offers tempting products and dishes from the Gaume region, appreciated for its charcuterie, pâté, beer and alcohol. Ranked one of the most beautiful villages in Belgium, Chassepierre, near Florenville, has outstanding views of the Semois valley and Ardennes forests. Take advantage of the two-day event and pitch a tent at the festival campsite on the banks of the river.
Flemish gastro-tourism association Vlaanderen Lekkerland selected Overijse as one of its 2013 ambassadors for a reason. The Flemish Brabant town is situated in the heart of grape country. Belgian varieties, especially the Leopold III, are reputed for their quality (and price). In honour of their local crop, the townsfolk of Overijse throw an annual mid-season grape festival, called the Druivenfeesten. Two dozen open-air concerts are spread out over nine days, with veteran Flemish crooner Will Tura top of the bill. In addition to the street festival, there’s an on-going grape exhibition, winery visits, tastings, cooking demonstrations and a market as well as nature walks and sport competitions. The highlight of Druivenfeesten is the Grape Parade and coronation of the year’s Grape Queen (18 August), who will become the face of Overijse’s grape industry. Markthal, Overijse, August 17-25