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What’s on this week: 10-16 August

11:33 09/08/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Arsenal, dEUS, Jasper Steverlinck, Alice Merton, Romeo Elvis, Stef Kamil Carlens, Shake Ponk … the list goes on and on for the local and international line-up of this year’s Brussels Summer Festival. The big annual event sees more than 100,000 visitors descending on three open-air stages and concert hall La Madeleine. Squares are cordoned off, so if you want to hear and see the 60+ bands, buy a €35 day pass. A €75 five-day pass, however, is an outstanding value. In any case, the party-time atmosphere across the centre, from Rue Dequesnoy to Place des Palais, is like no other week in the capital. 14-18 August, across Brussels-City

What is the subject of the most-published photo of Brussels across the globe? The Atomium, you might say, or the Grand’Place. If you guessed the latter, you’d be half right, but it’s actually a biennial event in said square that is the correct answer: Brussels Flower Carpet. For just four days every two years, the Grand’Place is transformed into a carpet of flowers – mostly begonias – put together to create a spectacular design. This year, Mexico is the country of honour, and the design pays homage to the town of Uriangato, with a history of street carpets made up of colourful sawdust. Uriangato’s patron saint is the Archangel Michael, who also happens to be Brussels’ patron saint. The carpet is free to access, but those who want the full experience will pay €5 to see it from the City Hall balcony. 16-19 August, GrandPlace

The tales of 19th-century French novelist Jules Verne captured the hearts and minds of youngsters and adults alike. From the air (Around the World in Eighty Days) to the ocean (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea) to the mysteries beneath our fee (Journey to the Centre of the Earth), his mysterious worlds and lively characters – both human and creature – have gone down in storytelling history. Now Brussels’ Museum of Fantastic Art devotes an exhibition to his work, set up in a sort of labyrinth with questions to answer along the way. If you’re taking along the kids, why not go on a Wednesday when Pignolo the clown combines juggling with clever wordplay and a spooky story or two. Until 2 September, Rue Américaine 7

Troone puppet theatre

Summer is a nice time to revisit childhood memories, and the traditional Toone puppet theatre does its best to feed that nostalgia. It’s new summer show is Faust, the centuries-old legend of the man who sells his soul to the devil to regain what he sees as a life wasted. Toone, one of Brussels’ most famous spots, takes online bookings in advance, or you can show up and pay at the door. Performances take place Thursday through Saturday and are in French unless otherwise noted. Do yourself a favour and arrive early or stay after to enjoy a brew in the character-laden old pub. Until 1 September, Rue du Marché-aux-Herbes 66

In terms of urban planning, the North-South rail connection was a collective trauma in Brussels, seen as a grandiose error resulting from the lack of an urban development policy. (Re)Compose the City is taking another look at this infamous development that knocked down historical buildings and displaced thousands of residents. Because it was 100 years in the planning, many ideas were developed and abandoned. What were they? Discover the plans and proposals of people like Victor Bourgeois, Victor Horta and Renaat Braem in this exhibition about whether was could have been was better than what is. Starting on 23 August, there are free guided tours every Thursday. And Civa is also hosting regular debates on the subject of urban planning in the capital. The next one, in September, is on privatisation of state-run services. Until 14 October, Civa, Rue de lErmitage 55 (Ixelles)

Summer isn’t all about rock, pop and hip-hop festivals, it’s also full of classical music concerts. Festival Catharina is totally free and concerts take place at lunchtime, so there’s no risk involved. Pop in next week to hear Duo Flaurimba’s masterful combination of the flute and marimba, Baroque ensemble Fabvla Mvndi or German organist Martin Meier’s interpretation of Mendelssohn, Vann and more. Tuesday-Thursday 12.15-13.00, Saint Catherine Church, Place Sainte Catherine

Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto

Have you ever thought of Jan van Eyck as a photographer? How about Hieronymus Bosch? Hiroshi Sugimoto has. The Japanese photographer is so taken with the detail in the works of the Flemish Primitives in general that he sees them as pioneers of the photographic genre and explores this idea in Still Life, on view for a few days more at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts. Forty of his photographs mimic the work of the Flemish Primitives in breathtaking clarity. Until 19 August, Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Rue de la Régence 3

The puppet Guignolet invites his friends “big and small” to his series of shows in Brussels Park this summer. The open-air marionette theatre presents shows almost every day, good for absolutely all ages. (In French) Until 26 August, 15.30, Brussels Park, Rue de la Loi & Rue Royale

Mini-Europe is treating visitors to fireworks and a performance of traditional Chinese dance on Saturday evenings. If you’ve never been to Brussels’ number two paid tourist attraction (after the Atomium) or haven’t been for a while, it’s a nice time to (re)visit. The show starts at 22.30 and then visitors can check out the attraction’s 350 miniature versions of Europe’s most famous monuments bathed in special lighting. Saturdays until 18 August, Bruparck, Boulevard de Centenaire

Les Conteurs en balade is, true to its name, a Brussels nomadic storytelling group that spins yarns in unique locations or as you walk through the streets. There are a few events this month, including this weekend’s Rêverie cosmique in Laeken, in which poetic lines weave in and out of live saxophone accompaniment. Good for kids and adults alike – and cheap. Ongoing, across Brussels

London Welsh Male Voice Choir


The world famous London Welsh Male Voice Choir is in Bruges for one night only this weekend. Specialising in songs from the Welsh tradition, it also performs choruses from operas and musicals as well as folk and pop songs. Expect some songs of remembrance during this lead-up to the centenary of the end of the First World War. In fact, proceeds from the concert will be shared with the Ypres branch of the Royal British Legion, which provides lifelong support for the Armed Forces community. Join in on before or after concert drinks in the church’s annex. 10 August 20.00, Sint-Anna Church, Sint-Annaplein, Bruges

Not that you need more of a reason to visit the stunning abbeys, castles and churches of Wallonia’s Meuse Valley, but here’s one anyway: Festival Eté Mosane provides exquisite sounds befitting the historical surroundings. The classical music concert series continues this weekend with France’s Ensemble Correspondances in the 12th-century Floreffe Abbey in Namur province. Until 26 August, across southern Meuse Valley

Photo: BSF/Eric Danhier/courtesy VisitBrussels, Troone courtesy venue, Still Life courtesy RMFAB, Welsh Choir courtesy choir

Written by Lisa Bradshaw