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What’s on this week: 11-17 May

11:02 10/05/2018
Our top picks of culture and activities in Brussels

The biennial parade infused with socially relevant themes is back on the streets of Brussels. It’s the 10 anniversary edition of the Zinneke Parade, and the theme is Illegal, a reference that should be pretty obvious – migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, anyone who moves in or through the country having fled unbearable circumstances only to wind up living at North Station. Zinneke is a non-profit organisation that works to bring groups together ‘for collaboration and creation’, but the parade is a real highlight. With more than 160 organisations from 34 Belgian cities and towns, it’s a participatory project with bite and a delight for spectators. 12 May, from 15.00, central Brussels

The festival Africa is / in the Future uses cinema, performance, concerts and workshops to talk about seeing the African continent as a boundless sea of opportunity when it comes to artistic engagement and collaboration. The festival looks at different possibilities for the future of Africa and the artistic languages put into play to discuss its politics, technologies and culture. 17-19 May, across Brussels

When New York’s Living Theatre premiered Paradise Now at Avignon in 1968, they began what was to become a series of scandals that led to arrests across Europe. Amid the semi-improvisational and interactive piece was the listing of social taboos, including nudity, which saw actors disrobing. Cue the coppers. Will Kaaitheater’s artist-in-residence Michiel Vandevelde shock modern audiences as much? Working with youth theatre fABULEUS, probably not, but the award-winning company will get you thinking about future perspectives as they survey half a century of history. (In English, with French and Dutch surtitles) 12-13 May Kaaitheater, Square Sainctelette 20. Post-performance talk on 13 May

Grime Night at AB

Carrying on the 1968 theme is concert hall Ancienne Belgique, which has programmed concerts this summer with Patti Smith, Billy Bragg and Selda Bagcan, among other musicians know for their protest and folk songs. Entering the fray is Grime Night, the best of the UK’s current grime scene – the London underground varient of rap, charged with political urgency. You’ll see AJ Tracey (pictured above), Nadia Rose, Novelist and Flohio.  13 May 19-22.30, Ancienne Belgique, Boulevard Anspach 110

If you need a good reason to get a little exercise, we have one. The Darkness into Light 5k walk raises awareness around mental health and suicide. The initiative began in Dublin in 2009 when a bereaved couple rose at 4.00 to walk from darkness into dawn in memory of their son. Now it’s done in nearly 150 towns and cities worldwide, but this is its premiere in Brussels. Proceeds from registration fees go to the Pieta House Ireland, and both the French- and Dutch-speaking centres for suicide prevention in Brussels. 12 May, 4.15 start time, Park Cinquantenaire (Etterbeek)

Do today’s youth believe in Europe? And whether they do or don’t, how have they formed those opinions? Bozar is putting months of preparation on show during Next Generation, Please!, a festival dedicated to projects – installations, performance, video – developed by local pupils. There are also films, debates and lectures on challenges facing Europe. It’s all part of the ongoing Bozar Occupied: 50 Years of Cultural Protest. 9-13 May, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Portrait of Helena Fourment

Portraits have long fascinated museum-goers, especially when little is known about the subject. Brussels’ Museums of Fine Arts has culled the finest portraits from its collection and borrowed a few more for Promises of a Face, which looks at the art and power of portraiture over six centuries – including this one. You’ll see works by Memling, Rubens and Van Dyck but also by Luc Tuymans, Michael  Borremans and Jan Fabre. A fun related project is the chance to write a quick impression of a face on a slip of paper. If the museum likes yours, it will hang it next to the portrait. Until 15 July, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Rue de la Régence 3

If you’re looking for a nice activity for the whole family, look no further: Little Life at the Porte de Hal details the upper-class domestic homes of days gone using doll houses and toy furniture. Kids get a look at the lives of adults and the ways in which our lives have changed – or sometimes stayed the same – over the last 150 years. Naturally some of it is hands-on. Until 25 November, Porte de Hal Museum, Boulevard de Midi 150

What happens when Muslims and Jews get together? Perhaps you thought they never did, but the Esther & Sheherazade Festival is out to prove you wrong. It’s the second edition of the event meant to introduce the culture of one group to the other – and to everyone else, as well. It includes guided walks, exhibitions, concerts and an intercultural shared meal. 3-26 May, across Molenbeek

The Stoemp! series brings local musicians to bars and cafes across town for free concerts. Coming up this week are DJs Nag & Lefto with a live hip-hop set at Muntpunt and indie dreampop band Portland at RITCS Cafe. Until 24 May, most concerts begin at 21.00, across Brussels

Liquid City


The Venice of the North may not have a biennale, but it does have a triennale: Liquid City is the festival’s title this year, referring both to Bruges’ famous waterways and to “liquid modernity”. The phrase was coined by late Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman to describe a constantly changing society, be it in relationships, identities or economics. Elements of change – from the retro-obsession of the “good old days” to a wave of new technologies – are depicted in a number of ways by international artists in this months-long multi-disciplinary event. Until 16 September, across Bruges

There’s no more illustrative example of family fun than kite flying. But does anyone do it anymore? You will wonder why you stopped when the Folon Foundation gets you onto the beautiful grounds of La Hulpe Castle, just south of Brussels, for Prenez l’Air, a day dedicated to air. Making and flying kites are central, but other air-related activities are on the agenda, including drawing flying animals, accordion concerts, storytelling and artistic kite flying against the beating of Taiko drums. Great fun in the sun for young and old. 10 May 11.00-18.00, Château de La Hulpe, Drève de la Ramée 6

The annual street-theatre festival Namur en mai presents more than 250 shows by 60 companies from Belgium and abroad. Some are ticket-only and staged in unusual locations, such as school playgrounds and hidden courtyards, while more than a half are performed for free in streets and outdoor spaces with a hat being passed around for gratuities. Expect a colourful whirligig of circus, puppetry, mime, concerts and acrobatics. Food trucks and beer stands ensure sustenance and refreshment. Check the programme if you want to reserve tickets. 13-15 May, Namur city-centre

Photos: Grime/Ian Upton, Promises/Detail from Peter Paul Rubens’ ‘Portrait of Helena Fourment’ ©RMFAB Brussels, Liquid City/Iwan Baan

Written by Lisa Bradshaw