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What’s on this week: 13-19 December

19:46 12/12/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

“Shout for joy, exult!” insists Weihnachtsoratoirum, Bach’s famous piece that tells the story of the birth of Jesus. The Collegium Vocale Gent’s choir and orchestra provides the complex polyphony, resounding arias and soft chorales for this seasonal masterpiece. If you’ve never heard it, don’t hesitate to catch this performance at Flagey.  But hurry, tickets are flying out the door. 14 December 17.30, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles)

Yap yap, woof! It’s time once again for Brussels Dog Show, the annual event that puts pooches to the test in the capital. A wealth of breeds have come in from all over the world to strut their stuff and be judged on temperament, movement and how perfect an example of the breed they are. Utter stress for the owners, perfect fun for the visitors. No advance tickets, just show up and pay €8 to get in. 14-15 December Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

Europalia Romania continues with The Power of Memory, a riveting discussion among writers on life after Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Four generations of famous authors, including Gabriela Adameşteanu and Mircea Cărtărescu, discuss how the totalitarian regime has affected them and their work. 18 December 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

The Shortest Day film festival is back, with more than 135 short films to brighten up the dark days of the Winter Solstice. There are screenings of the francophone films from Belgium in cinemas and other venues across Wallonia and Brussels, as well as on TV and VOD. During the longest night, La Trois will broadcast eight hours of shorts from 22.00 to 6.00. Beyond the wide variety of films screened, there will be opportunities to meet and speak with a number of the directors. 18-22 December, across Brussels & Wallonia

It isn’t Christmas without a Christmas concert, and what better ensemble to provide it than the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra? The programme includes Tschaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no 1, operettas by Strauss, Brahms, Verdi and Rossini and El Golpe by Belgium’s own composer Dirk Brossé. The concert is conducted by David Navarro Turres and features pianist Daniel Blumenthal. 14 December 20.00, Brussels Conservatory, Regentschapsstraat 30

ADAM design museum brings together punk, santa and pancakes at the Christmas Special Design Brunch, part of the smashing new exhibition Punk Graphics: Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die. Attendees will have access to the museum, and personnel will be on hand to answer any questions. Workshops for kids (and adults, why not) turn vintage photos, fluorescent paper and sequins into Christmas decorations. And finally, Adam urges you to bring a new toy to put under the tree; they will be given to patients at the Queen Fabiola University Children’s Hospital. 15 December 10.30-15.00, Place de Belgique

The new exhibition So British! Cars & Lifestyle isn’t special only for its outstanding collection of vintage cars by UK manufacturers. It also whisks visitors straight to London. Autoworld will be transformed into cheery holiday lanes, complete with streetlamps, lights, Christmas trees and decorative shop windows. Parked in the narrow London streets are of course automobiles – several decades’ worth of such legendary brands as the Aston Martin, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls-Royce. 13 December to 26 January, Parc du Cinquantenaire 11

Nine Lessons and Carols is a favourite in Christian communities in the lead-up to Christmas. The fall of humankind and the birth of Jesus is told in nine lessons from the book of Genesis and the Gospels, mixes with the collective singing of Christmas carols and other hymns. The Church of Scotland brings it all to you in English. 15 December 18.30-19.30, Saint Andrew’s Church, Chaussée de Vleurgat 181 (Ixelles)

The European Outdoor Film Tour, a selection of the most eye-popping outdoor and adventure films of late, hits Brussels. While some focus on extreme sports, others on extreme conditions – and it’s all super entertaining, whether you are an outdoors-y type or not. 18 December 20.00, W:Halll, Avenue Charles Thielemans 93 (Woluwe-Saint-Pierre)

Sing along during the annual Brussels Carol Concert, a popular event among expats in the capital. Most carols are in English, though French and Dutch also pepper the programme.  15 December 17.00-19.00, Royal Conservatory, Rue de la Régence 30


Bruges has laid on some new additions to its Christmas Market this year. Winter Glow comes with the traditional holiday markets on Markt and Simon Stevinplein as well as illuminated trails and a cosy hub in Minnewater park. Two light trails start, most conveniently, at the train station. One heads in the direction of ’t Zand, home to the Concertgebouw, and the other towards Minnewater. Atmospheric lighting and patterns shining on facades and trees make Bruges even more magical, if such a thing were possible. At Minnewater is a new lakeside bar and a synthetic skating rink. Indeed, synthetic rinks are a thing, an eco-friendly alternative to ice. Until 5 January, across Bruges

The tiny Milmort likes to say that it hosts the smallest Christmas market in Belgium – just one chalet. And it only serves ones thing: oysters. The Milmort Oyster Festival, now in its 30th year, sources its delectible shellfish from the Marennes-Oléron basin and serves them with melted cheese, fish soup, fried cod cheeks, bread and a glass of Sauvignon. On 21 December, Father Christmas will ride around the village in a carriage, handing out sweets. 13-30 December, Place Melveille, Milmort (Herstal)

Photos, from top: ©Rudi Carlier; Nuit Chérie by Lia Bertels ©; Courtesy Autoworld; ©Matthias Desmet

Written by What’s on this week: 13-19 December