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What’s on this week: 6-12 July

13:07 05/07/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

It’s no secret this summer has been unusually hot and sunny so far. Take advantage of it and head to Bruxelles les Bains, the city’s cracking urban beach. Along both sides of the canal north of Sainctelette are bars, lounge chairs, sport, music and a wealth of other activities, along with soft beds of sand. Weekends are a good time to catch a film on the outdoor screen and cool off with an ice cream or apertif. A bridge takes you from one side of the canal to another, and there are boat trips, too. 6 July to 16 August, Quai des Péniches & Quai Béco

Classical music shines in Brussels during the summer, and the Ars in Cathedrali festival has a programme to match its austere surroundings of the St Michael & St Goedele Cathedral in the heart of the city centre. The cathedral’s organ is at the centre of every performance, with a big screen to get the audience closer to the action. It is occasionally accompanied by singers or ensembles, a daunting task as the 4,300 pipes of the monumental Grenzing organ are difficult to match in either beauty or sound. The programme concentrates on JS Bach, and his endlessly mysterious The Art of Fugue – unfinished and with unspecified instrumentation – will be performed by German organist Albrecht Koch. Tuesday nights until 28 August, St Michael & St Goedele, Rue du Bois Sauvage 15

Kunqu opera

Looking for an experience from a continent away? Kunqu Opera is one of the oldest forms of the genre in existence, with its singing techniques allegedly developed during the Ming Dynasty. At the opening gala of the fourth annual China Arts Festival, highlights from “The Peony Pavilion” and “The Legend of the White Snake” are performed by the Northern Kunqu Opera Theatre. (In the original Mandarin with English surtitles). The rest of the festival’s programme will be released at the gala. 6 July 19:00-21.00, Vaudeville Theatre, Galeries de la Reine 11

If you’re into jazz but not folk – or the other way around – don’t skip Brosella Folk & Jazz festival, which splits up its genres by day. On Saturday, you’ll see folk-inspired musicians like Belgian gypsy music master Tcha Limberger and those famous New Yorkers The Klezmatics. Check in on Sunday to find Dutch gypsy jazz stylists Romane & Stochelo Rosenberg and celebrated American jazz trio The Bad Plus. This near-free festival just next to the Atomium even has an entirely separate programme dedicated to children. 7-8 July, Théâtre de Verdure, Osseghem Park, Avenue de l’Atomium

Summer of Photography

Music festivals are not the only activity to take over Brussels this summer: Bozar’s Summer of Photography biennial includes dozens of venues across the capital. It’s now in full swing, with debates, workshops and, of course, exhibitions. This year honours the 50th anniversary of the 1968 student protests in Paris. UNcovered is just one show opening this week. Brussels-based fashion photographer Pierre Debusschere’s most personal project to date takes a look at intimacy and protection, with hundreds of new photographs and a screening of his second film. Until 30 September, across Brussels

Little Wonders is hosting Summer Sessions to keep your tots bouncing and entertained. Parents and caregivers are invited to come with their children – from newborns to toddlers – to take part in activities, including puppet shows and music-making. Kids get the opportunity to play their own instrument and wiggle to the beat of the songs. Little Wonders opened just last year and, in addition to classes, is available for parties. English happily spoken. Until 17 July, Radiant Light Yoga Studio, Rue Saint Quentin 36.

How much do you know about Tour & Taxis? Did you know that it once served as the largest freight station in Europe? Or that it was named after German nobility? If not, industrial heritage museum La Fonderie offers the opportunity to hear about that and more with a guided tour of the site – the most ambitious architectural repurposing project in the capital’s history. The tour also includes a peek at the PermaFungi mushroom farm hidden in a cellar. 7 July, Royal Depot, Avenue du Port 86C

Khaldei Trio

Soak up the divine sounds of the Khaldei Trio, sway to the world-classical fusion of the Lingua Franca Ensemble or get a dialogue going with the tonal language of pianist Hervé Billaut. Whichever you choose, it’s hard to go wrong at the Brussels Conservatory’s Midis Minimes Festival, where some of Europe’s finest musicians gather every summer. (Not to be confused with the Festival des Minimes over at the Fine Arts Museum.) Until 31 August, Brussels Conservatory, Rue de la Régence 30

Last year a group of international primatologists made headlines when they found that some 60% of the world’s primate species are threatened with extinction. At the interactive Monkeys exhibition, visitors are invited to learn about these species and how to protect them. An immersive experience that looks at the shrinking primate community, suitable for the whole family. Until 26 August, Museum of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29

Believe it or not, one of the biggest parties on Flanders’s annual Community Day is in Brussels. This is not only because Brussels is the capital of Flanders but because its Dutch speakers want to get in on the action. Celebrations every 11 July recognise the date of the Battle of the Golden Spurs, when ragtag hordes of Flemish farmers and craftsmen defeated the French cavalry near Kortrijk in 1302. But Brussels its mostly about dancing. The popular Dance Battle on Place de la Monnaie features breakdance and Afro-Caribbean this year and is followed by DJs afterwards so you can show off your own moves. Other Brussel Danst activities include a mock wedding (declare your love for Brussels!), concerts by Flemish bands and a late-night party at Beursschouwburg. 11 July, across downtown Brussels

Jan Fabre at Amuz


To which Belgian artist would you give carte-blanche in bringing the concept of Renaissance altarpieces into the present day? Neither classical music centre Amuz nor the City of Antwerp are known for being faint-of-heart, so they went with hometown boy Jan Fabre. He has brought his jewel scarabs to the party, creating three monumental works on the altar of the former Augustinian church using the insects’ glittering luminescent wing casings. They are temporary replacements for the works by Jordaens, Van Dyck and Rubens that used to hang in this same space, and Fabre has retold their stories in a contemporary context. The results are nothing short of eye-popping. Until 10 December, Amuz, Kammenstraat 81, Antwerp (Because the venue isn’t usually open outside of concerts, viewing times are rather inconvenient. Check the hours carefully)

Though scientists were already pointing to the environmental dangers of overconsumption in the 1960s, policymakers and consumers only recently began to take heed. Now, aware of the impasse between growth and survival of the species, questions are being raised in nearly every sector in the world as to how the economy and the environment can both get their needs met. The Limits of Growth exhibition at CID in the inimitable Grand-Hornu repurposed industrial site looks specifically at design, both local and international. Can we re-invent the concept to meet environmental needs? Can we even use it to reduce waste? Is there such a thing as not-for-profit design? Until 21 October, Rue Sainte-Louise 82, Boussu (Hainaut province)

Photos: Brussel Beach courtesy of Brussels Beach, Opera courtesy of China Arts Festival, Summer of Photography/work by Pierre Debusschere/©254Forest, Midis Minimes/Khaldei Trio photo by Nicolas Draps, Jan Fabre detail of altarpiece/Angelos bvba/photo by Attilio Maranzano

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Hannah Rodriguez