The platform for Belgium's international community

Search form

menu menu
  • Daily & Weekly newsletters
  • Buy & download The Bulletin
  • Comment on our articles

’Tis the season: Our guide to holiday events for young and old

The Cheshire Cat, part of the Alice in Wonderland light festival at Antwerp Zoo
16:36 03/12/2021
The federal government announced today that indoor events are limited to 200 people starting on 6 December. Some of the events on our list, then, might be cancelled or postponed

It’s official: All indoor events are limited to a maximum of 3,500 people this weekend and to a mere 200 people as of Monday. That means some of the events in our guide will have to cancel, or perhaps will be postponed. We are keeping them on the list, however, so you can check them individually. The measures will be in force until at least 20 December, when the consultative committee reconvenes.

The good news is, we can head outside, and that is where you will find many of these activities. Over the past few years, imaginative winter light trails, for instance, have increasingly become a feature in cities around the country. With so much seasonal fun spoilt by Covid, these brilliant themed illuminations offer some much-needed sparkle.

A light installation at Winter Glow in Bruges©ACTLD/Visit Bruges

Winter Glow
A three-kilometre trail of light installations brightens up the night in Bruges. The Winter Glow app allows you to create more beautiful effects on the city’s squares and monuments using your mobile phone. You can also submit a haiku for consideration to be projected on facades, because this year the theme of Winter Glow is ‘word’. From prose to slam poetry, expressions made from light will be dotted along the parcours. Until 9 January, across central Bruges

Lumos Namura
The Walloon capital Namur hosts the second edition of its immersive light trail, Lumos Namura. Making the most of the new Confluence public space between the Meuse and Sambre rivers, its thematic ‘Between magic and technology’ also shines a light on other emblematic places in the city, including the Cathédrale Saint-Aubain and the Louise-Marie park. Visitors can scan a mobile app to discover all of the giant installations and laser shows. Until 9 January 17.00-midnight, across Namur

Alice in Wonderland light installation at Antwerp Zoo©Jonas Verhulst

Alice in Wonderland Light Festival
Enormous glowing figures tell the story of Alice in Wonderland at the Antwerp Zoo. Follow the white rabbit to enter the dreamworld of Alice as she interacts with all the story’s familiar characters: The Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat (pictured top) and the Queen of Hearts, to name a few. Chinese light artists put together the zoo’s light festival every year, and their attention to detail is impressive. Until 16 January, Koningin Astridplein 20, Antwerp

A light installation at Dinolights in Planckendael©Jonas Verhulst

Dinolights
Happen upon life-size dinosaurs that glow in the dark of winter at Planckendael animal park. Similar to the Antwerp Zoo’s light festival, Planckendael is peppered with giant light installations – except they are a wee bit scarier. Meet the T-Rex, Velociraptors, triceratops and a giant snake or two along a parcours that sees them roaring, slithering or perhaps popping out of an egg. Until 16 January, Planckendael, Leuvensesteenweg 582, Mechelen

Holiday on Ice
After a seven-year absence, Holiday on Ice is back in Belgium. This year’s edition of the colourful, festival ice skating show is called Supernova and features 40 international pros performing on (and above) the ice amid a glittering 3D set. Fun for the whole family. 3-5 December, Lotto Arena, Schijnpoortweg 119, Antwerp

Kerstmagie
A Christmas tale in a castle starring elves and Santa Clause. They don’t call this live performance ‘Kerstmagie’ for nothing: You follow the story of the singing elves who have mysteriously lost their voices by moving from room to room in one of Belgium’s glorious castles, completely decked out in full holiday décor. There are special effects and an interactive element to this annual show, which is performed in French in Wallonia and in Dutch in Flanders. 4-26 December, across Belgium

A light installation at Light Art in Knokke-Heist©Salomé Corte-Real/LAC

Light Art
Light and sound merge in Knokke, with Light Art featuring sculptural installations along a 2.5 kilometre parcours. Dynamic movements, optical illusion and interactive functions mix with musical compositions. There is also an app that explains each work’s relationship to specific art movements, as well as a children’s trail for the wee ones. 4 December to 9 January, across Knokke

The cover image from the picture book The Snowman

The Snowman
A devoted group of expats stage the holiday concert The Snowman once again this year. An introduction to which instruments represent which animals is followed by a concert with wholly new narration. It’s a funny twist on a classic story and good for all ages. 5 December 15.00 & 17.30, Auderghem Cultural Centre, Blvd Du Souverain 183, Brussels

Liege Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's Swan Lake©Courtesy OPRL

Cinderella (cancelled)
Rediscover the rags to riches story of Cinderella in this concert version of Serge Prokofiev’s famous ballet performed by Liège’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Narration of the fairy tale (in French) is designed to entertain all ages five and up. The Russian composer’s ballet represented the pinnacle of his career and remains a lyrical masterpiece. 10 December 18.00 & 20.00  (Salle Philharmonique, Liege), 11 December 11.00 & 14.00 (Bozar, Brussels)

Modave Castle during Lumières et couleurs de Noel©Courtesy Modave Castle

Lumières et couleurs de Noël
The magnificent Château de Modave in Liège province is entirely bedecked in Christmas decorations. Lumières et couleurs de Noël is the annual transformation of the 25-room interior of the stately home into a magical wonderland with twinkling Christmas trees, opulent festive tables and atmospheric candles. Santa’s elves and a menagerie of animals accompany visitors on their tour. As night falls and the lights are switched on, the beautiful façade and formal gardens of the castle – originating from the Middle Ages – are bathed in ethereal colours.  11 December to 9 January, Rue du Parc 4, Modave

Brussels Carol Concert
Sing along at the Brussels Carol Concert, an annual events beloved to Brussels’ international community. A choir and orchestra play classic English carols, as well as holiday songs from around the world. A children’s choir is made up of local primary school pupils. 12 December 17.00

Christmas Gospel Concert
The talented Black Harmony Gospel Singers perform traditional and contemporary tunes accompanied by a bassdrum rhythm section in a Christmas Gospel Concert at Namur’s baroque Cathédrale Saint-Aubain. The choir’s singers originate from the West Indies and Africa and perform in Belgium and around Europe. 12 December 16.00, Place Saint-Aubain, Namur

The Lolly Christmas Show©Courtesy Théâtre de Namur

Théâtre de Namur holiday programme
Théâtre de Namur stages some excellent one-off seasonal productions. The musical comedy Beauty and the Beast is a family show (in French), with 30 performers taking to the stage. Classical dance enthusiasts can enjoy Brussels International Ballet’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, while the Lolly Christmas Show offers an evening of cabaret with the Belgian boudoir diva Lolly Wish. The theatre’s traditional New Year Concert with a festive medley of Viennese music features the Ensemble instrumental de Wallonie and the Ballets du Conservatoire de Namur. Beauty and the Beast, 12 December 14.45 & 17.45; Swan Lake, 15 December 20.30; Lolly, 21 December 20.30; New Year Concert, 30 December 16.00 & 20.00. Place du Théâtre, Namur

Christmas Carol Concert
Enjoy the sound of seasonal favourites when Brussels International Singers present their annual Christmas Carol Concert alongside the Musica Ficta Ensemble and the Brussels International Junior Singers. Philippe Lambert conducts the family-friendly programme. Tickets: [email protected] or 0497.87.13.63. 17 December 19.30, Royal Conservatory, Rue de la Régence 30, Brussels

Christmas Oratorio (cancelled)
The European Union Choir performs a timely programme by Camille Saint-Saëns in a concert commemorating the centenary of the death of the French composer. 100 years Saint-Saëns features his two vocal masterpieces, Requiem (for soloists, choir and orchestra) and Christmas Oratorio (a cantata-like work for chorus, organ, strings and harp). The choir is accompanied by the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles and five soloists, under the direction of Dirk de Moor. 17 December 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23, Brussels

A scene from Le petit chaperon rouge©Courtesy Centre Culturel d’Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve

Le petit chaperon rouge
In this French-language version of Little Red Riding Hood, the popular fairy-tale is revisited with a wolf who prefers to put his paws up at home, while its heroine models herself on a super hero. Discover how the pair attempt to forge their own destinies. (5+ years). 19 December 15.00, Ottignies Cultural Centre, Avenue des Combattants 41

Christmas Family Concert
The annual Christmas Family Concert combines symphony music and youth performances. Staged by Bozar and the Belgian National Orchestra, the heart-warming story of a bird that slowly wins its freedom is presented by French collective Les Clés de l’écoute via mime and video projections. Young singers perform arias by characters from Mozart’s The Magic Flute, and the programmes also includes extracts from operatic masterpieces Cosi fan tutti and Don Giovanni. 22-23 December 18.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23, Brussels

The Nutcracker©Creative Event Design

The Nutcracker
Dancers from across the world have been brought together to perform Tchaikovsky’s classic holiday ballet in Brussels, Ghent and Hasselt, with a live symphonic orchestra. Watch as Clara falls asleep on Christmas Eve to dream of dancers and drama – or was it real? 22 December (Hasselt), 26 December (Brussels), 27-28 December (Ghent)

Noël au Théâtre
The annual French-language children’s festival Noël au Théâtre is designed to keep youngsters – and their parents – entertained over the holiday period. On the programme are a theatrical bonanza of mime, puppetry, shadow and object theatre, music and dance, with 41 shows. Spread across 16 venues around the capital, the event is organised by the Chambre des Théatre pour l’Enfance et la Jeunesse. 26-30 December & 4-7 January, Théâtre National and other venues in Brussels

Le Combat des anges

Le Combat des anges
The breath-taking audio-visual Christmas show Le Combat des anges by internationally renowned director Luc Petit is part of the tour Les Nocturnales, performed in cathedrals in Wallonia and France. The re-telling of the Christmas story sees angels Michel and Gabriel call on fellow celestial beings, shepherds and kings to prepare for the newborn’s arrival in Bethlehem. 26-28 December (Namur), 30 December to 3 January (Arlon), 5-9 January (Liège)

A Ceremony of Carols

A Ceremony of Carols
The strains of Anglo-French Christmas music will fill the lofty and grand interior of St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral in its traditional concert staged between Christmas and New Year. A Ceremony of Carols takes its title from the famous suite by British composer Benjamin Britten, with Marcel Dupré’s Variations sur un Noël and two arias by Handel also feature on the seasonal programme. Britten’s choral cantata is a classical music staple during the Christmas season. Consisting of 11 movements, 10 are with voice (usually women) and one for solo harp. Performances are by the Cantus Firmus vocal ensemble with soloists Elise Gäbele, Alisée Frippiat and organist Xavier Deprez. 27 December 17.00, Parvis Saint-Gudule, Brussels

Photo top ©Jonas Verhulst

 

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Sarah Crew