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What’s on this week: 12-18 July

10:38 11/07/2019
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

There’s no shortage of music festivals in Belgium, you might have noticed, but they tend to come with a high ticket price. Not Brosella. This wonderful summer festival in Parc d’Osseghem will only cost you a fiver a day, and you get several acts on two stages. Saturday features folk music, including Refugees for Refugees and Fanfare Ciocarlia, described as a ‘Balkan party on speed’. Things turn jazzy on Sunday, with psychedelic quartet Echoes of Zoo and the Pérez, Cohan, Potter Quintet on the bill. The Kids Village has its own line-up and a wealth of activities. Kids under 12, by the way, go to Brosella for free. 13-14 July, Parc d’Osseghem, Avenue de l’Atomium

The title Fallen Empires and Refound Desires certainly provides enough incentive to get us to the free opening of this outdoor in situ exhibition in Vilvoorde. But there’s also talks, concerts, guided tours, food and drinks. The multimedia exhibition runs all summer, culminating in the Horst Arts & Music Festival in September. 14 July from 14.00, Asiat Site, Kerkhofstraat 1, Vilvoorde

Party with one of Belgium’s hottest DJs at the foot of the Atomium during Cercle’s latest boss event. The organisation live-streams DJ performances via Facebook at unique locations around the world. Afterwards, our own Amelie Lens will be interviewed on the platform, and so will members of the audience. Be one of them. 15 July from 18.30, Place de l’Atomium 1

Stéphane Mandelbaum's “Goebbels”

Before his death in the 1980s at the age of 25, Stéphane Mandelbaum would produce hundreds of drawings and illustrations and become the enfant terrible of Brussels’ art scene. Reminiscent of art brut, his work largely consisted of portraits of his relatives, Nazi dignitaries and underground figures, such as gangsters, prostitutes, poets and painters. His work, now on show at the Jewish Museum, was unique, iconoclastic and provocative – and strangely contemporary when seen today. Mandelbaum’s artistic obsessions seeped into the rest of his life, and he became involved with criminal syndicates. He was murdered by a mobster in 1986 following the theft of a Modigliani from a home in Ixelles. Until 22 September, Jewish Museum of Belgium, Rue des Minimes 21

You still have to wait a few weeks for Brussels Summer Festival (BSF), but you can already get the party started by checking out BSF Off, the festival’s brand new series of concerts. Some 40 concerts in are spread across bars in all 19 municipalities, including the open-air summer bars. At each is also a chance to win free passes to BSF. Until 9 August, across Brussels

Brussels is full to bursting with summer pop-up bars, but there’s none more glamorous than La Terrasse 02. Don your chicest summer togs for its latest Afterwork Party, which is co-hosted by expat organisation Gin Jeudi. 18 July 18.00-midnight, Chaussée de la Hulpe 51 (Uccle)

Fancy Footwork Brussels

Not having the weather for it year-round, Brussels stuffs July and August with open-air bars and parties. Fancy Footwork moves its after-work parties around to unique spots, and this week its disco ball has landed on the roof of Wiels art centre. DJs keep things hopping until 22.00. Wiels is busy that night: Brussels artist Anne Wetsi Mpoma leads visitors through the exhibition of her work, Multiple Transmissions: Art in the Afropolitan Age (in Dutch), while Dutch artist Timmy van Zoelen attends the opening reception of his new exhibition, Dopaminer. 17 July, party 17.00-22.00 Avenue Van Volxem 354 (Forest)

Love it or hate it, Foire du Midi is back in the Brussels skyline. The big summer fairground  boasts more than 130 rides, plus games, virtual reality and more fatty, sugary foods than your kids can even eat. Opening night includes a parade and live music. 13 July to 18 August from 15.00, Boulevard du Midi between Porte de Hal and Porte d’Anderlecht

If all these open-air parties and fun fairs are making your summer much too frivolous, pick up a ticket for the talk Neuroscience of Digital Distractions. Author and TEDx speaker Anastasia Dedyukhina, founder of Consciously Digital, will discuss how your smartphone is basically turning your brain to mush. (In English) 16 July 19.00-20.30, 26 Lights, Avenue Brugmann 63 (Forest)

Villers Abbey


Audiences continue to rave about the dazzling open-air performances at the imposing Villers Abbey. Actors take to the abbey’s grounds, using them creatively and dramatically in classic productions. This summer it’s Cyrano de Bergerac, the well-loved tale of a young man who, due to his prominent proboscis, cannot speak his heart. A wonderful way to spend a summer evening. (in French) 16 July to 17 August, Rue de l’Abbaye 55, Villers-la-Ville

Rock, pop, reggae and soul come together at Francofolies de Spa, a celebration of French-language music from all over the world. The event used to be spread out around the city, but now its several stages are all concentrated in Parc de 7 Heures, giving it that summer music festival vibe you know and love. Some highlights this year are French singer-songwriter Patrick Bruel, French singer Zazie and Brussels’ own Angèle. 18-21 July, Parc de 7 Heures, Avenue Reine Astrid & Rue Hanster

Photo: Brosella/©Lieve Boussauw, Stéphane Mandelbaum/“Goebbels” (detail)/courtesy Jewish Museum, Fancy Footwork courtesy event, Villers courtesy Del Diffusion

Written by Lisa Bradshaw