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What’s on this week: 14-20 September

Car-Free Sunday in Brussels
11:46 13/09/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Arguably the capital’s most popular participatory event, Car-Free Sunday sees traffic banned across the Brussels-Capital Region. Get ready for speeding cyclists, in-line skating in the tunnels and picnics and playgrounds sprouting up on residential streets everywhere. One of the region’s activities for the day include the Mobilmix Village, with its cocktails, giant chess board, football pool table and Brunch the Street, where you join fellow residents at a 90-metre-long table. There’s also Brussels Bike Circus, with oddball and antique bikes and insane contests, and Bruxelles Champetre, a village-style market on Place Royal with food trucks, locally made brews and crafts, concerts and activities for kids. Public transport still operates for easy moving about from one place to another. Car-Free Sunday is the kick-off to Mobility Week, which sees additional activities taking place in the ensuing days. Several other unrelated events are scheduled to take place during the weekend of Car-Free Sunday as well (see below). 16 September, across Brussels

It’s Brussels’ turn to open up monuments and historical sites normally closed to the public, a country-wide event that already celebrated successful editions in Flanders and Wallonia this month. Heritage Days also finds castle, forts, museums and the like allowing visitors to peek behind doors normally shut to them. In keeping with 2018 as the European Year of Cultural Heritage, a special theme this year is highlighting personal stories of everyday citizens, institutions and associations, reflecting the vision they have of their own heritage. Just don’t plan to drive to anything; it’s Car-Free Sunday as well. 15-16 September, across Brussels

Whether you’re a Batmaniac (that’s a real fandom term, we looked it up) or a casual reader of comics in their many varied forms, you’ll have a great time at the Comic Strip Festival. This annual celebration of the ninth art includes film screenings, a treasure hunt, installations that envelop you in comic worlds, an improv competition and live drawing – including life-size figures of Batman and Joker by Enrico Marini. There are naturally dozens of special guests, who will sign and talk about their work, as well as a market where you can peruse thousands of titles. You’ll find plenty of work in English, French and Dutch, but an International Pavilion introduces you to artists from such places as Portugal, Poland and Turkey. A bonus: Belgium’s Standaard Uitgeverij (FC De Kampionen, Spike and Suzy) is taking part for the first time. Sideline events include guided tours of Brussels’ famous comic murals and a terribly entertaining Balloon Parade. 14-16 September, Brussels Park, Place des Palais & Rue Royale

Les Vampires

Visual and auditory masterpieces come together during the UFA Film Nights. UFA is a German production company, which co-operates with Bozar and Cinematek for this pairing of live music and silent movie classics. Hear the Brussels Philharmonic interpret Carl Davis’ score for the Harold Lloyd classic Safety Last, French music project Arandel’s interpretation of two episodes from Louis Feuillade’s epic Les Vampires and the I solisti di Francoforte ensemble play German trombonist Uwe Dierksen’s new score for Paul Czinner’s Der Geiger Von Florenz (The Fiddler of Florence). Der Geiger is a fully remastered version, with scenes once thought too damaged to restore. 20-22 September 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

It’s the end of an era: You and your family have just two more weeks to visit Océade before it closes its doors forever. Brussels’ only water park has to shut to make room for the new Neo shopping and leisure centre at Heysel. Take a swim, relax in the sauna, slip down the water slides and dart in and out of the fountains one last time. Until 30 September, Avenue du Football 3

Dream the impossible dream at KVS this month as it presents Jacques Brel’s version of the Broadway smash The Man of La Mancha. Brel himself translates the texts of the 1965 musical, premiering his French version three years later at La Monnaie and playing the starring role of Don Quixote. KVS is pairing up with La Monnaie and Théâtre de Liège for this 50th anniversary revival of the classic story of a wandering self-proclaimed knight, who might be crazy or might be noble – or might be both. Surtitles are in Dutch and English or Spanish, depending on the performance. Tickets are nearly sold out, but the production will travel to Turnhout and Liège. 14-28 September, KVS, Rue de Laeken 146

Vincent Scheers

Uncalculated risks, exotic encounters and nightmares abroad all come into play in the work of Belgian artist Vincent Scheers. His new show, Blind Man Crossing, at Jos Joos Gallery sees him taking snapshots and objects from various travels – from Kathmandu to Berlin – and scanning them into one image. Similar visual or emotional impressions come together in surprising and revealing ways. Meet the artist at the vernissage on 13 September from 18.00 to 21.00. Until 3 November, Jos Joos, Rue Belliard 200

Though it might be time to admit that summer is over, it’s not time to give up music festivals. Stoemp! just moves them inside local bars for its two-month programme of free concerts featuring all manner of genres. Starting things off next week are soul band Saudade and rapper Sparrow at the pop-up Bar Eliza in Koekelberg and the famed singer/guitarist Stef Kamil Carlens at Het Goudblommeke in Papier. Until 17 November, across Brussels

Three writers are coming together for a discussion in English on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the death of Mahmoud Darwish, considered Palestine’s greatest poet of the last 50 years. What they all have in common: They had to flee their homelands and have felt dislocated ever since. The talk and reading I’m the Stranger features South African writer Breyten Breytenbach, Palestinian poet Asmaa Azeizeh and Iraqi novelist Sinan Antoon, who has translated Darwish’s work. 19 September 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Scholars have argued that Mozart’s work on Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) raised the opera above its tired stereotypes, taking it from potential obscurity to one of the arts’ most-recognised titles. It’s in fact Emanuel Schikaneder’s book that often confounds opera fans and critics, who considered it simplistic or disjointed. Though others would argue that it leaves room for myriad interpretations of the work that finds a young prince trying to liberate the daughter of the Queen of the Night with his magical flute. Famous Italian stage director Romeo Castellucci  gets around this in his new production at La Monnaie by scrapping or rewriting much of the spoken dialogue, creating a whole new understanding of its iconic characters. Castellucci leaves his mark on much of Brussels this year, also collaborating on projects with Bozar, Cinematek and Kanal. 18 September to 4 October, La Monnaie, Place de la Monnaie

Stilt-walkers at Fêtes de Wallonie

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

For folklore, free concerts and festive fun - not necessarily in that order - head to Namur, the hub of the annual Fêtes de Wallonie celebrations. The regional capital is enjoying street partying and an extensive musical line-up that includes Saule, Alice on the Roof, Grandgeorge, BJ Scott and Témé Tan. One folklore highlight is a combat between stilt-walkers in a Namur tradition that dates from 1411. Be warned: drinking copious amounts of beer and local alcohol péket as well as singing in Walloon dialect are mandatary for joining in the revelry. Until 17 September

If you’re looking for a little village time this weekend, you can’t do much better than the Lekker Westhoeks festival, which brings together all of the Westhoek region’s food and drink specialities in Poperinge’s picturesque market square. As a grower of hops, that includes beer, of course, but also gin, cheese, pastries, chocolates, wine and fresh produce. There are food trucks, natch, as well as storytelling, kids’ activities and DJs. 15-16 September, Grote Markt, Poperinge

Photos: Car-free/Laurie Dieffembacq/BELGA, UFA/Les Vampires/courtesy Bozar, Vincent Scheers (modified)/courtesy the artist & Jos Joos, Fêtes (modified)/Myben.be/Flickr

Written by Lisa Bradshaw and Sarah Crew