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What’s on: 18-24 May

12:30 17/05/2018
Our top picks of culture and activities in Brussels

Surely all those rainbow flags have not escaped your notice over the last couple of weeks, and now the Belgium Pride festival culminates in the big annual Pride Parade, which winds through downtown Brussels this Saturday. There’s also Pride Village at Mont des Arts and numerous parties that last until the wee hours. It’s the event of the season for the LGBT community and their friends. 18 May

If you haven’t yet made plans for Neighbours’ Day, there’s still time to organise a potluck in your building or street. The day was launched a number of years ago to ensure that people actually know who lives next to them – which has been proven to reduce conflict among neighbours and even help prevent break-ins. It’s also just a good way to feel like a part of your community. The Neighbours’ Day website offers free posters and invitations to slip into your neighbours’ postboxes. There are also some group events organised, like barbecues put on by on by the National Lottery and nibblies and drinks at a few trains stations courtesy of SNCB. 25 May, across Belgium

The Arthus Gallery in Ixelles is hosting an Irish artist for the very first time. Landscape painter Miriam Dowling will be present at the opening on Thursday, 17 May, to chat with visitors about her work. Born in Dublin, Dowling spent the formative holidays of her youth travelling across the Irish countryside. Even as a child, she was taken with the differences between the colours and shapes compared to her urban life, and she captures them beautifully in her paintings. Until 30 June, Rue Simonis 33

Queen Elisabeth concertinos

If you didn’t make it to the Queen Elisabeth Competition for voice this year, you get a second chance to hear some of the finalists in two lunchtime concertinos. Spanish soprano Rocío Pérez, French mezzo-soprano Héloïse Mas, Belgian soprano Charlotte Wajnberg (pictured) and Ukrainian baritone Danylo Matviienko will prove why they are among the best operatic singers in the world. 18 & 25 May, La Monnaie, Rue Léopold 23

Remember that time when Europe was ravaged by a civil war, nation states collapsed and the EU was the only body with a grip on the rule of law? No? Well, come find out all about it from Italian expat Giuseppe Porcaro at the launch of his novel Disco Sour. The author, a communications manager at Brussels-based think-tank Bruegel, will have a conversation with Politico editor Ryan Heath about the book, which has already won an EU prize for ‘spreading knowledge about Europe’. The event at Beursschouwburg is free, but registration is required. 24 May, 18.30-21.30, Rue A Orts

Carolus Festival

The festival extraordinaire Carolus V embeds itself so completely in the capital that it’s easy to stumble into one of its events without realising it. Dedicated to the Renaissance – and in particular Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who was born in Ghent, raised in Mechelen and established a palace in Brussels – it encompasses a wide variety of activities for all ages. The best known are Family Day and Ommegang, a re-enactment of the procession and entertainments associated with Charles V’s entry into Brussels in 1549. But there are dozens of activities, including exhibitions, special tours and a medieval feast. Until 2 September, across Brussels

The Boghossian Foundation has given us another reason to visit the gorgeous Villa Empain Art Deco palace in Ixelles this summer: A pop-up restaurant will be run by Sang-Hoon Degeimbre of two-Michelin star restaurant L’air du temps in Éghezée, Namur province. Make yourself a reservation for lunch at a table inside one of the Baron Empain’s former salons before visiting the space’s latest exhibition Melancholia. Until 29 July, Avenue Franklin Roosevelt 67

Full Circle is an English-language membership club with some of the most interesting talks and debates happening in Brussels. Some of their events are open to non-members, such as the next one: Patrick Gaspard is the president of Open Society Foundations, a New York-based grantmaking group, with offices in Brussels. But he’s also been a union organiser, campaign worker, White House advisor and the US Ambassador to South Africa. An African-American political insider, he’ll surely have plenty to say about the current situation in the US. 22 May, 19.30-22.30, central Brussels (location provided upon registration)

Walking Therapy

Is it tour? A performance? It’s a bit of both when actors Fabio Zenoni and Nicolas Buyssee lead your Walking Thérapie group through the much-maligned pedestrian zone. You’ll get a portable stool and a headset to fully enjoy this ‘urban safari through the concrete jungle that is the city of Brussels’. (in French) 22 May to 3 June, central Brussels

New York-born, Brussels-based artist Charlemagne Palestine calls himself a ‘maximalist’, a breezy nod to his penchant for chaos and a condemnation of the snootier side of contemporary art. A 70-year-old force to be reckoned with, Palestine is staging a performance (he’s also a musician) at NICC to coincide with the opening of the retrospective exhibition AA Sschmmettrroossppecctivve at Bozar. Expect a lot of stuffed toys. Performance: 18 May 20.00, NICC, Rue Lambert Crickx (Anderlecht). Exhibition: 18 May to 26 August, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

James Ensor


The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp has certainly been closed for a long time, hasn’t it? Don’t get excited, we’re not announcing the re-opening quite yet, but it has shipped its entire James Ensor collection to MuZee in Ostend for a special exhibition. Quite rightly as that’s where the turn-of-the-20th-century surrealist master lived nearly his whole life. In Dreams of Mother of Pearl, you’ll see ‘The Painting Skeleton’ (detail pictured), ‘Astonishment of the Mask Wouse’ and many other examples of Ensor’s top works. Until 16 June 2019, Romestraat 11, Ostend

There’s nothing quite so sophisticated as a tea ceremony, and you can enjoy the Asian variety this weekend at Mariemont Museum, located on vast and lovely grounds in Morlanwelz in the Hainaut province. It hosts both Japanese and Chinese tea tastings in its authentic teahouse, the only one in Belgium brought here direct from China. Take time to visit the museum, with collections of objects from Asia, Greece, Egypt and the Far East. Registration for tea required at 064 27 37 41 or, 20 May 14.00, Chaussée de Mariemont 100, Morlanwelz

Photos: Pride/Marcel Vanhulst MRBC-MBHG, Carolus/Eric Danhier Visit Brussels, Queen Elisabeth/VRT, Ensor detail/KMSKA © - Art in Flanders vzw photo Hugo Maertens SABAM Belgium 2018, Walking Therapie/courtesy Theatre National

Written by Lisa Bradshaw