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What’s on: 17-23 August

15:19 16/08/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

There will be non-stop action in the Marolles neighbourhood as Les Brigittines International Festival takes over the legendary performance centre. The tagline this year is “Antidotes for a toxic era”, as all the productions either criticise tyranny, which seems to be taking over the West at an alarming speed, or act as a call to action against what the theatre calls “moving forward without knowledge”. Included on the programme is Là, se délasse Lillith, by and with French choreographer Marinette Dozzeville, which calls on the (in)famous mythical figure to explore the wobbly line between freedom and bondage. Almost all performances are dialogue-free, surtitles in French for those that are not. 17 August to 1 September, Les Brigittines, Petite Rue des Brigittines

Cinema Nova’s annual PleinOPENair festival puts film in unlikely spots in the capital. That doesn’t mean cobblestone squares or hidden gardens, it means abandoned fields or industrial zones or, such as this year, underneath a viaduct and in an export warehouse for second-hand cars. The setting fits the theme, which for this edition is Brussels’ ongoing love affair with the automobile. A third location, in Place Lehon, was refused a permit at the last minute by Schaerbeek city council for what Cinema Nova calls “political reasons” – they didn’t like the idea of films being shown that criticise the municipality’s mobility priorities. The festival also includes guided walks and debates, and everything is free. It’s advisable, however, to reserve a place in advance for the walks, which fill up. 22 August to 1 September, across Brussels

OK, so you’ve been to some exhibitions, maybe a concert at Brussels’ Centre for Fine Arts (that would be Bozar). But did you know that there are eight subterranean floors? It was architect Victor Horta’s master plan for the space, which was meant to both physically and symbolically bring uptown and downtown Brussels together. Opened in 1928, Bozar was a high point in Horta’s extensive career. See it all during a special guided tour as part of the Horta year. 21 August 12.30 (in Dutch), 25 August 12.30 (in English), Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Le Lion, sa cage et ses ailes

If you love documentaries, French labour history or just like to do things that everyone who knows you fails to understand, don’t miss Armand Gatti’s Le Lion, sa cage et ses ailes (The Lion, its Cage and its Wings), a marathon screening of all eight episodes of the late French filmmaker’s experiment within the astoundingly diverse cultures he found working in Montbéliard’s Peugeot factory in the 1970s. He let immigrant communities write their own scripts and talk about their personal journeys. Fascinating stuff and all shown in the changing rooms of the former Citroen garage, now the trendy Kanal centre for the arts (In French). Until 3 September, Kanal Centre Pompidou, Quai des Péniches

Brussels continues to host several exhibitions focused on different elements of the First World War. In the run up to 11 November, the centenary of the end of the war, make sure to catch one or two. Still running until October is the enlightening Gender@War 14-18, a look at the differences in how men and women experienced the war and how social and family roles alter in response to upheaval. It’s international, too, covering experiences in Belgium, the UK, France and Germany. Until 21 October, La Fonderie, Rue Ransfort 27 (Molenbeek)

An urban arts festival featuring concerts, street artists and food trucks is a very smart way to slip young people some information about sexual health. So health organisation SIDA’SOS invites youngsters and their parents to the free Solidarity Festival for fun and a wee bit of pertinent information. 19 August 14.00-21.00, Place Eugène Flagey (Ixelles)

Théâtres Nomades

A wonderful festival for all ages, Théâtres Nomades brings theatre, circus acts and storytellers to the heart of Brussels. More than 35 performances provide enough entertainment, but you’ll also find street theatre performers, musicians and stands between the official sites. It’s one big theatrical village for four days. Everything is free, but some performances require a reservation. 23-26 August, Brussels Park, Rue Royale & Rue de la Loi

The Hide and Seek Festival takes Brussels’ world music stalwart Muziek Publique out of its cosy home in Galerie de la Porte de Namur and into all of the capital’s corners, hidden and otherwise. You’ll find yourself hunting down a local clarinet factory (didn’t know there was one, did you?), a ULB high-voltage lab and Molenbeek Cemetery, among other eclectic spots. Many shows are already sold out, so reserve now. 20-26 August, across Brussels

Fancy a bit of Baroque music in one of Brussels most beautiful 13th-century venues? The Voce et Organo Festival’s theme this year is Baroque, with the Chapel Church’s organ taking centre stage. The programme includes Leuven’s wonderful Psallentes ensemble, which presents its new CD of works by 17th-century Brussels composer Peeter Cornet, married in that very church. 22 August to 22 September, Church of Our Lady of the Chapel, Place de la Chapelle

Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix


It’s time for Belgium’s big Grand Prix as the world’s fastest on four wheels head to the Formula 1 race at Spa-Francorchamps. The longest track on the Formula 1 circuit, it’s a big favourite for both racing pros and fans. There are still tickets available for single or multiple days, with a special last-minute discounts for the 3-Corner Silver and Silver 3 Grandstand. 24-26 August, Route du Circuit 38, Spa

Lissewege, a district of Bruges, is a lovely little whitewashed village on any day, but this weekend it’s a real fairy tale when thousands of candles fill up windowsills and light installations guide visitors through the glowing streets. There are also fire performances, a “magical garden” and, special for this 20th edition of Lichtfeest Lissewege, a chance to help set the “biggest fireworks ever in the town” alight with your own sparkler. Everything is free to access. 17-18 August 21.00-23.30, Lissewege (Bruges)

Photos: Les Brigittines courtesy venue, Theatres Nomades/Serena Tenea

Written by Lisa Bradshaw