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What’s on this week: 14-20 December

13:46 13/12/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

A brand new arts festival is in town: Connexion BXL was launched by various cultural players in the capital to illustrate its connection to other people and places in the world. Focusing on performers from Africa and the Middle East, as well as Belgians with roots in these countries, the festival showcases music, theatre and dance, including many premieres. “The world today is already part of Brussels,” says the festival’s chair, Jan Goossens (the previous director of KVS). He thinks that sharing culture can help bind people to each other. “Connexion BXL is an international festival for an international city.” 14-22 December, across Brussels

Take to Muziekpublique for your weekly drowning-your-Brexit-sorrows, where the Welsh trio Alaw (Welsh for ‘melody’) take to the stage. After a rousing concert at Brosella this summer, violinist Oli Wilson, guitarist Dylan Fowler and accordion player Jamie Smith are back with their unique brand of Celtic folk. 15 December 20.00, Molière Theatre, Square du Bastion 3 (Ixelles)

The Belgian National Orchestra’s Christmas Concert is a rousing rendition of Maurice Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilès (The Child and the Spells). Good for the whole family (6+), it’s the timeless tale of a boy who is mean to animals and the objects in his bedroom, which suddenly come to life to take their revenge. But it all ends well, as you probably concluded. The orchestra is accompanied by opera singers from both home and abroad. (In French with surtitles in French and Dutch) 21-22 December 18.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Experience Days

Just in time for Christmas, Brussels-based artisans of all stripes throw open their doors for  Experience Days. The free event allows visitors behind the scenes and puts on special events. Taste several varieties of coffee, for instance, at Corica or learn to make speculoos at Dandoy. L’Antichambre lets you create your own personalised fragrance, while La Maison Carine Gilson does the same with (~ blush ~) lingerie. There are nearly 40 stops, with a shuttle bus dropping visitors off and picking them up all day long. 15-16 December 11.00-18.30, across Brussels

All the talk around the revolution of ’68 got Brussels-based playwright Sanja Mitrovic thinking: How does a global revolution spread and does it have any effect on the young people of today? The production My Revolution is Better than Yours covers much territory, from these questions to historical amnesia and the brand marketing of social movements. (In multiple languages with surtitles in English, French and Dutch) 14-15 December, KVS, Quai aux Pierres de Taille 7

Studio Brussel’s massive year-end fundraising event De Warmste Week includes a short run that can be jogged, walked or wheelchaired. The Warmathon takes place in different cities on different nights, and it’s in Brussels on Thursday. Pay €15 to tool around the Atomium and D’Osseghem Park. The money goes to charity, and a festival atmosphere is guaranteed. 20 December, start anytime between 14.00 and 19.30 at Atomium, Square de l’Atomium

Valley of Love

If you’re more Scrooge oriented this time of year, you might just be able to get into Valley of Love, a sort of anti-Christmas Christmas concert. Billed as “a bright winter voyage in the era of global warming,” it features world music that celebrates love and community without all the cutesy-cute. An release event for ‘the other Christmas album’ of the same name, you’ll hear original numbers by musicians from home and abroad recounting their best – and their worst – memories of the holidays. Artists include Belgian worldfolk musician Jawhar, Belgian rock guitarist Rudy Trouve and Finnish jazz-pop singer Anu Junnonen. 19 December 20.00, Théâtre Marni, Rue de Vergnies 25 (Ixelles)

The neighbourhood group Voisins D’Eliza invite you to Midwinternacht to celebrate the longest night of the year. Poetry, music, warm drinks and more in the open-air of Elisabeth Park. 21 December 15.00-22.00, Elisabeth Park (Koekelberg)

Catch some adventure during the European Outdoor Film Tour, a group of short films following the exploits of people who do insane things like climb snow-covered mountains, turn somersaults on mountain bikes and ‘roller-ski’. Whether you would ever do this stuff or not, it’s great fun to watch. 18 December 20.00, La Madeleine, 14 Rue Duquesnoy

Have you wandered over to ‘The Dome’ at the Christmas market that you’ve heard so much about only to discover that you needed a ticket, which requires (*shudder*) advance planning? Let us make it easy on you. First: You can just buy a ticket at the door to see the films, whether it’s the selection of shorts that make up the Discovery programme or the feature films. You can’t book in advance even if you want to, so no stress. If you want to catch a performance, click here, where you will find a description of all performances and a big button that says ‘buy now’. There are performances every weekend in the evening. Until 6 January, Boulevard Anspach between Place de Brouckère and Rue de l’Évêque

Francois Curlet

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

The work of French artist Francois Curlet, who has long resided in Brussels, is focused, an Antwerp museum once said, on ‘thingliness’. His objects and images question what are considered mundane or common objects and imageries in our daily lives. In acts of constant deconstruction and reconstruction, he studies – and criticises – the meaning instilled in goods and brands. The exhibition Crésus & Crusoé puts much of this interesting – and often hilarious – stuff on show. Until 10 March, Mac’s, Grand-Hornu, Rue Sainte-Louise 82, Boussu (Hainaut)

The ever-cool theatre group FC Bergman has teamed up with the Vlaamse Opera to utterly shake up Georges Bizet’s Les Pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers). Not content to tackle a piece that was already cutting edge, they chose a classic in the opera genre, the story of a love triangle that was popular the moment it premiered in 1863. As directors, the team of FC Bergman scaled back the traditionally exotic set, letting the bare bones of the painful emotional conflict fill the stage instead. Catch it if you can. (In the original French with Dutch surtitles) 14-31 December, Antwerp Opera; 12-24 January, Ghent Opera

Photos: Connexion/Vladimir Dziomba, Valley of Love/J Van Belle/Wallonia-Brussels International

Written by Lisa Bradshaw