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Culture beat – July 25
Take a peek inside the state offices of the Belgian monarchs as the Royal Palace opens its doors for the summer. You can visit the imposing building, once one of the finest royal residences in Europe, until September 7. In tribute to the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, there’s an exhibition dedicated to the royal couple Albert (the soldier King) and Elisabeth (the nursing Queen). A video installation, Albert et Elisabeth: le film de la vie d’un couple royal, shows documentary clips, many screened for the first time. A second exhibition, De brillants esprits belges, follows the path of Belgian scientists and Albert I’s role in promoting scientific research. Open Tuesday to Sunday, last entrance at 16.30. The current palace façade and interior dates from 1865, designed by Belgian architect Alphonse Balat and commissioned by Léopold II. But its origins date from the 12th and 13th centuries, when the Coudenbergh hill dominated the landscape. Brussels was largely constructed in the 15th century under the reign of rich princes such as Philippe the Good. In 1731 a fire destroyed most of the palace and the ruins were abandoned for some 40 years. In the 1770s an architectural project took shape and resulted in the Place Royal and surrounding Neo-classic buildings which still stand today. The only vestiges of the original palace lie in the cellars and underground passages that can be visited from the neighbouring Coudenberg palace.
The weekend weather could be stormy, but Nova Cinema is hoping the rain holds off as its free outdoor festival PleinOPENair opens tonight. After a year off in 2013 (due to continuing city authority wrangles about its siting and heavy rain), the itinerant event returns every weekend until August 13. Offering films, music, walks, and other entertainment, it kicks off in the Marolles before moving to Cité Modèle/Modelwijk in Laeken (Aug 1 & 2)and Haren on the outskirts of the city (Aug 8 & 9). One unifying theme of the programme is urbanism and 1950s-60 cinema. This evening there is a very apt screening of Jean Harlez’s Le Chantier des gosses (filmed in the Marolles in the 50s; Eng & Dutch subtitles). On Saturday you can see Il Tetto by Vittorio De Sica, which follows the Bal Flamenco-Manouche. Each evening of the festival there are short films (including Lost & Found by Antje Van Wichelen, pictured) and concerts. Drinks and vegetarian food are on sale from 19.00.
The one-day free music festival Bruksellive features a packed line-up from 15.00 on Saturday until the early hours of Sunday morning. Staged at the Théâtre de Verdure/Groentheater at the foot of the Atomium, the programme includes Zap Mama, Huxley (UK), Andrès (US), Robbing Millions, Marshall Jefferson (US), Vuurwerk, Lefto, Mo Kolours (UK), Young Marko (NL), and many more.
If your children have at least a smattering of French they’ll love this outdoor book reading event. Every summer, Brussels libraries move into parks in Brussels (and Wallonia) for Lire dans les parcs de Bruxelles. More than 30 parks in the capital are participating in the annual event until the end of the school holidays, August 29. The detailed programme provides you with precise times, dates and venues. Each park is partnered with a local library. The spot chosen for reading is located near a children’s play area. In case of rain, the reading moves to the library.
The annual sound and light show is already under way every weekend at the popular Heysel attraction Mini-Europe until August 16. Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the park each show finishes with a firework display at 22.30. There are new attractions at the park on the theme of World War One
Free concert: Franco-Irish electro-pop Mineral (pictured) + Belgian alternative rock Mud Flow on stage at Louvain-la-Plage at 21.20 this evening (Friday). Seventh edition of the ‘beach’ event in the student (currently empty) city of Louvain-la-Neuve, in the Grand-Place with deckchairs in the sand and bucket-loads of beach games, not to mention seasonal cocktails (until August 3).