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What’s on this week: 1-7 March

13:28 28/02/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

International Women’s Day, 8 March, does not go unnoticed in the capital of Europe, with many events and activities on offer. Check out, for instance, the talk by Nina Power, the British author of One Dimensional Woman, a look at contemporary portrayals of women. Or the launch of the La Belle Hip-Hop festival, which lasts eight days, features women from eight countries and takes place in eight venues in Brussels. Film festival Lesborama, meanwhile, shows queer and feminist film from the last decade. The Brussels Region, meanwhile, is hosting an entire Women’s Rights Week, with a load of events on offer. 8 March, across Brussels

Brussels’ Comic Con is a hoot, even if your interest in comics, sci-fi and cosplay is more curious than hardcore. The guests alone are worth the price of admission: Bonnie Wright and Evanna Lynch, who played Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood, respectively, in the Harry Potter series, join a wealth of others, including Tarantino favourite Michael Madsen and Nicholas Brendon of Buffy The Vampire Slayer fame. There are also stands, cosplay parades and workshops. 2-3 March, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c

Following a memorable performance last year, English Comedy Brussels welcomes British comic Chris Purchase back, who’ll be doing a double-bill with Harriet Dyer. The only real question is: Will Harriet pull out her hand puppet? 5 March 20.00, The Black Sheep, Chaussée de Boondael (Ixelles)

Funan

Don’t use the word ‘cartoon’ when talking about Anima, Brussels’ annual film festival dedicated to animated cinema. This is not, for the most part, cute kiddie stuff. Take, for instance, the opening film Another Day of Life, a harrowing story of a Polish journalist travelling through Angola during the civil war. Or Funan, the story of one family’s struggle to survive the Khmer Rouge regime of 1970s Cambodia (pictured). Both these films are based on true stories, the latter was made by the son of the protagonist of the film. But OK, it’s not all this heavy: Should you have kids, don’t miss the sections programmed especially for them. 1-10 March, Flagey, Place Sainte Croix 4 (Ixelles)

Belgian-Congolese artist Roland Gunst takes a fascinating look at the iconic lion that adorns the flag of Flanders in the musical theatre piece Flandria. Rejecting its use as a symbol of a ‘pure’ Flemish identity that leaves him out, he embraces its potential power to liberate his people. The lion is black, after all. (In Dutch, with surtitles in English and French) 4 March 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

We all know that it isn’t only talent that makes you a star. This is the premise of Etuwe Bright Junior’s one-man show Look on the Bright Side. He came to Belgium from Nigeria to be a pro footballer, but things turned out differently… 8-9 March 20.30, Beursschouwburg, Rue A Orts 20 (In Dutch, with surtitles in English)

Citizens' Rights Outreach

The British Embassy has scheduled another date in Brussels-City for its Citizens’ Rights Outreach, as this week’s edition filled up so quickly. The sessions, with three more taking place in Flanders and Brussels in March, is meant to answer questions associated with living and working in Belgium in a post-Brexit scenario. The sessions are free and delivered by ambassador Alison Rose herself, together with other UK officials. The audience can ask questions following the talk. Advance registration is required. 7 March Brussels-City, 13 March Ghent, 19 March Tervuren, 21 March Woluwe-Saint-Pierre

The American Theatre Company presents Tennessee Williams’ classic tale of male domination and female break-down, A Streetcar Named Desire. Watch one of the most iconic trios in theatre history – Blanche, Stella and Stanley – circle each other, as each one’s power continues to shift. 5-9 March 20.00, CC Jacques Franck, Chaussée de Waterloo 94 (Saint-Gilles)

Looking ahead: Dylan Moran is one of the best-selling stand-ups in the world for a reason: The delivery and references to current affairs, politics and culture make this an easy show to love. Tickets to see the English comedian and actor (Notting Hill, Calvary, Shaun of the Dead) are going fast, so if you miss the Brussels show, check out the ones in Antwerp a few nights later. 7 April 20.00, Cirque Royal, Rue de l’Enseignement 81

Binche Carnival

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

It’s Carnival time in Belgium, and that means a trip to one of the two most famous celebrations in the country – and in Europe. Both the Binche and Aalst carnivals are Unesco protected heritage and are known the world over for their folkloric figures called Gilles, with hundreds of them taking to the streets in striped costumes, wax masks and wooden shoes. In Binche, a change of costume is required for the big event – throwing oranges to the crowds. In Aalst, crowds gather around the Gilles for their annual Broom Dance. Both cities have myriad other carnival events, including big parades, good for the whole family. 3-5 March, across Binche (Hainaut province) & Aalst (East Flanders)

Another smashing carnival party is in Malmedy, where Cwarmê festivities are kicked off by the Grosse Police, carried on by folklore figures Haguètes and their inimitable dance, and finished with the burning of the Haguète, which ushers in the spring. 2-5 March, across Malmedy (Liège province)

Photos: La Belle Hip-Hop/Yacko courtesy Bicara Musik, Funan courtesy Lunanime, Brexit/Getty Images, Carnival/Eric Lalmand/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw