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What’s on this week: 1-7 December

12:26 02/12/2023
The most festive month of the year kicks off with Mediterranean film, uplifting music, a hope-inspired ideas festival and of course a full sleigh of seasonal activities.

Harrowing moments in a migrant journey to Italy, three French girls’ attempts to fight sexual intimidation and a Spanish filmmakers’ tribute to her grandparents – just three of the 60 features to be found at Cinemamed, a festival of films from Mediterranean countries. There are also movies with a Mediterranean touch shot elsewhere, such as Belgium. Check out, for instance, Amal, about a Brussels teacher daring her multi-cultural pupils to think for themselves. Cinemamed also features many special guests and concerts of Med music. 1-8 December, across Brussels


The Brussels Choral Society and the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra perform a poignant and powerful concert of three pieces celebrating the capacity for resilience and hope in the human spirit. Two of Brahms’ greatest choral works, Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), and his famous Ein deutsches Requiem are joined by the world premiere of Sounds of Baghdad, an evocation of the numerous faces of the city, by Belgian-Iraqi composer Qoutayba Neaimi. David Navarro-Turres conducts, with soloists Sara Hamidi (soprano) and Kris Belligh (baritone). 2 December 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23; 3 December 16.00, Sint-Romboutskathedraal, Mechelen


Louis Herman De Koninck’s 1930s CUBEX kitchens are iconic in Belgium – simple, square units to hold all your pots and pans. But this rigidity not only promoted efficiency and hygiene, it also reinforced stereotypical familial roles, keeping women firmly attached to their cupboards. Unworlding CUBEX, designed by Anna Puigjaner, co-founder of  MAIO architectural office, Barcelona, turns this on its head. The wooden cubes are dispersed across the room to make a “multidirectional, collective kitchen’ that lets other people take part, Puigjaner says. For curator Nikolaus Hirsch, the exhibition, complete with talks and cooking workshops, with its fascinating CUBEX photographs and drawings is “another chance to open up the archives, allowing a different understanding of history.” Until 28 April, CIVA, Rue de l’Ermitage 55 (Ixelles) 


Have you ever wanted to saunter in and out of the city’s amazing art galleries? Here’s an opportunity to discover some of the finest addresses in Ixelles with the final Brussels Gallery Walk guided tour of the season (in English; other languages available on request). After exploring the Baronian (Exhibition: Hamish Fulton - WHO IS THE NARRATOR ?, pictured), Galerie DYS, Stems Gallery, Galerie Nathalie Obadia and Nosbaum Reding, it’s time for tea as well as a visit at Esther Verhaeghe art concepts. The tour and tea time need to be booked separately by 30 November. 2 December 14.00-16.00 guided tour, Rue de la Concorde 60A; 16.00-18.00 tea time


The River Jazz Festival rolls on with a brilliant line-up of concerts, including gifted French pianist Gregory Privat’s performance with his trio on 2 December. Originally from Guadeloupe, he draws on his roots to explore Afro-Caribbean music. Another highlight is River Jazz Night on 9 December, when Belgian player and composer Anne Niepold is given carte blanche to present three projects performed consecutively in each festival venue. She teams up with pianist Florejan Verschueren at the Jazz Station, before duetting with UK accordionist Andy Cutting at Senghor (pictured above), and finishes with a revival of her group Musette is not Dead in the bar of Marni. Until 9 December, multiple venues


The second edition of the Full Circle Festival of Ideas offers a long weekend of lively discussion, events and live music. A unique blend of cultural enjoyment and intellectual engagement, the packed programme is centred on the theme of ‘Hope’. Highlights include thought-provoking talks by authors and academics with appearances from Richard Fisher, Peter Turchin, Gaia Vince and William Sieghart. One-day and weekend passes are available. 1-3 December, Full Circle House, Chaussée de Vleurgat 89 (Ixelles)

Yabba (c)Bernhard Muller

The exquisite Horta Hall in Bozar tends to serve as simply a passageway to the exhibition spaces. But it was designed by Victor Horta to host art – particularly statues, which would benefit from the high ceilings and natural lighting. The new monthly series Bozar Performances sees live performance taking to the space – living sculpture if you will – putting audiences at the crossroads of movement, architecture and music. It kicks off this week with Spanish artist and choreographer Maria Jerez’s Yabba, a kind of living landscape and perfect introduction to the concept. Ongoing, Yabba on 5 December 19.00, Rue Ravenstein 23


Highlighting ethical consumption while providing independent vendors with an opportunity to sell products with a social-environmental slant, the second edition of the The Creators Factory runs over five weekends. Carefully selected designers offer responsibly-produced jewellery, clothing, candles, make-up, accessories and many other gift ideas in their own little mini-shops. Brass bands provide a musical backdrop. The event is a collaboration with three partners: Christmas designers Market, The Wild Pop-Up and Fais-le toi-même (see below). Until 24 December, Halles Saint-Géry

Boom Noel

The big Christmas creative and sustainable market is a bonanza for artisan and designer gifts organised by the nonprofit Fais le toi-même. Around 60 stands offer local sustainable crafts and decor, plus mulled wine and entertainment. 1-3 DecemberL’Extension, Rue Américaine 11b (Saint-Gilles)


The Winter Pop programme brings seasonal cheer to other corners of the city over three weekends: Place Peter Benoît (Neder-Over-Heembeek) from 1 to 3 December; Square Ambiorix (EU Quarter) from 8 to 10 December; and Place Willems (Laeken) from 15 to 17 December. Winter Pop’s festive caravans transform each of the squares into a party place for all ages with concerts, choirs, film screenings, performances, fire shows, festive walks, face painting and association stands. Glowing braziers, bright lights, appetising edibles and warming drinks all add to the atmosphere. 1-17 December, multiple locations in Brussels


After five years of absence, the Ixelles Christmas Market makes a welcome return under a big tent set up at Flagey harbouring some 80 festive stands. Artisan and craft products from Belgium and Europe take pride of place. A lovely range of gifts await plus quality seasonal bites, hot drinks and an entertainment programme. 1-3 December, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles)


Feminist festive sparkle is guaranteed at The Nine Annual Christmas Market as the clubhouse for women is transformed into a fairy wonderland. Enjoy a design market with gifts for all the family from all-female line up of vendors and artisans, plus music and entertainment and delicious food and drinks. The event fundraises for charity while supporting local women in business. 1 December 15.00-22.00, Rue Archimède 69


Snag a special gift at the Brussels Women's Club Christmas Fair. It offers a feast of yuletide specialties such as mince pies, home-made cakes, jams and chutneys, hand-made Christmas table decorations and wreaths, craft items and jewellery. The clubhouse café will be serving refreshments. 2 December 10.00-14.00, Rue au Bois 509 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)


The Association Femmes d'Europe’s annual Christmas Bazaar  admirably raises funds for humanitarian projects. Located in the Atrium of the European Commission building, it’s selling a range of seasonal items, including regional foods, clothes, jewellery, artisanal soaps and more. Don’t miss an appearance by Saint Nicolas at 11.00 and the tombola draw at 15.00. Refreshments also available. 2 December 10.00-17.00, Rue Joseph II 79 


The Tram Museum runs its second Christmas Market with local artisans plying quality decorative objects and tasty treats. Mulled wine and ‘cougnous’ await at the Tram-O-Bar, while an old 1935 tram and historic bus are ready to take visitors on trips to Tervuren and Stockel. Free entrance for market and museum; €5 for historic trips (free under age of 6).  2-3 December, Musée du Transport Urbain Bruxellois, Avenue de Tervuren 364b (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)


Book now An outstanding classical music programme awaits at the European Union Choir’s seasonal concert with the Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles at Bozar. Beethoven dominates the first half with the composer’s piano concerto No 5 performed by Abdel Rahman El Bacha, a winner of the prestigious Queen Elisabeth piano competition. In the second part, a hymn is followed by a cantata by Mendelssohn. Dirk De Moor conducts and soloists are Julie Gebhart, Cécile Lastchenko, Markus Ensthaller and Matthew Zador. 9 December 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23


Carmina Burana

The Szeged Contemporary Dance Company performs a powerful rendition of Carmina Burana, based on the 1930s cantata by Carl Orff. The German composer in turn based it on 24 poems from the original Latin work of the same name. Here it is brought to life by some 350 performers in a dialogue-free mix of theatre and dance that vividly captures the fears and joys of a primitive fringe community struggling with its own demise. 5-16 December, across Belgium

(c) Estate of Karlo Kacharava

Ghent’s museum of contemporary art hosts Sentimental Traveller, the first solo exhibition of work by Georgian artist, poet and art critic Karlo Kacharava outside of his home country. Despite dying at the age of 30, he was one of the country’s most influential cultural figures of the late 20th century. His main legacy is the distinctive style that helped usher in a new wave of Georgian avant-gardism. The exhibition is part of Europalia Georgia. 2 December to 14 April, Smak, Jan Hoetplein 1, Ghent

Blown Away (c)John Moran, photo by Mike Van Cleven

Check out Blown Away in Ghent, where the glass-blowers of the hit reality TV series of the same name come together for demonstrations and to mingle with visitors. Johan Moran, the American owner of Gent Glas, was the winner of season three. He welcomes the runner-up and third-place winners as well as the winner of season two, who all make breathtaking works of glass art in their own style. There will be works to admire and to buy. 1-2 December, 1-2 December 20.00-23.00, Gent Glas, Huidevetterken 24

December Dance (c)Filip Van Roe

The “annual high mass of dance” is back in Bruges, with some of the hottest local and international productions of the year. December Dance features the world premiere of Lisa Vereertbrugghen’s punishing cross between techno and folk dance While We Are Here, and absolutely do not miss Ballet Vlaanderen perform the wildly celebrated Half Life by Israeli choreographers Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar. The production is a few years old but is being paired by the new Mécanique by Richard Siegal. 7-17 December, across Bruges


The oldest winter market in Belgium, Liège’s Christmas Village is a convivial feast of attractions modelled on German and Alsatian markets while retaining the city’s folklore at its heart. It’s also one of the biggest with some 150 artisan chalets spread around five areas. Place Cathédrale hosts the popular light-festooned skating rink and the big wheel is conveniently located in Place Saint-Lambert for a glittering panoramic view of the merrymaking. Liège folk have an endless appetite for cold-busting dishes such as raclette, tartiflette and fondue. Naturally, local alcohol pekèt will be flowing along with other winter-warming liquid refreshments. Check out the extensive programme for DJ sets, music and dancing in Place Saint-Lambert. Until 7 January, across Liège


The Walloon capital sparkling all December long. Illuminations and decorations stretch from the esplanade of the citadel to the Confluence where a 5m-high arch in the form of a star shines over the public space. After last-year’s roller rink, a covered ice skating rink returns to Place de l’Ange. The traditional Christmas market occupies three areas: Place d’Armes (home to a large Swiss chalet surrounded by gourmet stands), Place de l’Ange and Place du Théâtre. A Jules Verne-themed light trail in the city has been designed by La Clic, fusing art and technology. The starting point is La Nef in Rue Saint Nicolas (from 8 December). Christmas market 1-31 December, across Namur 

Mons CN-oswaldt

Hainaut capital Mons hosts its habitual Cœur en Neige, a medley of festive hotspots spread across five zones in the historic city (Grand-Place, Place du Marché, Croix-Place, Carré des Arts, the Anciens Abattoirs and Place Louise). Alsace is guest region this year so prepare yourself for some hearty culinary specialities served in main square. A two-storey Alsatian wood-clad chalet is an atmospheric hub for eating and drinkingThe surrounding cobbled shopping streets are all illuminated and an ice-skating rinks graces the Marché aux Herbes. Newly-renovated Place Léopold hosts fairground rides for children as well as Christmas tree and twinkling ights (until 7 January). 2-31 December (market), until 7 January (ice rink), across Mons

Mons circus show Les Rêveurs de Noël invites artists from around the world to perform acrobatics, magic, juggling and other thrilling acts. No animals are used in the show, which combines elements of street theatre and traditional circus feats. 2-31 December, Place Léopold

CHOPIN-112-Waterloo-2023 (1) (1)

The melodies and romanticism of the French composer are celebrated in Only Chopin! performed by I virtuosi di Waterloo. On the programme are a series of nocturnes, waltzes and a concerto, for solo piano and orchestra accompanied by piano. Email: 1 December 20.00, Eglise Saint-Paul, Drève des Chasseurs 14, Waterloo

Discover more upcoming events at The Bulletin's events page.

Photos: (main image) ©Cinemamed; Georges Lillywhite; ©simonemarcolin maio Civa; Baronian; Marni Jazz duonc ©jpohl; Carmina Burana ©Courtesy; Yabba ©Bernhard Muller; ©Estate of Karlo Kacharava; Blown Away ©John Moran, photo by Mike Van Cleven; ©Mons CN-oswaldt

Written by Sarah Crew, Lisa Bradshaw, Liz Newmark



Don't forget the climate march this Sunday 3rd December from 13h00 to 18h00 at Gare du Nord!

Nov 30, 2023 13:38