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What’s on this week: 19-25 April

09:40 18/04/2019
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Belgium’s largest – and one of Europe’s most prestigious – art fairs is celebrating its 37th edition this year. Art Brussels sees nearly 150 galleries from more than 30 countries descending on the capital with thousands of modern and contemporary art pieces. Whether you’re in it out of curiosity or as a collector, there is much to see and do, including talks and film screenings. Galleries and artists are split into categories, with Discovery featuring young and emerging artists, Prime featuring established artists and Rediscovery putting the focus on artists – living or dead – that are under-recognised or forgotten. 25-28 April, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86c

The cultural household names of tomorrow gather for the annual Courants d’Airs, a festival of music, opera, dance, theatre and circus. Performers are young artists from the Brussels Conservatory and secondary arts schools from around the country. Most of the programme is made up of new works created for the festival. There are a wealth of options, but check out the opening concerts, where 60 students from 10 nationalities play Mahler’s Fourth Symphony and Waffle Time, which boasts theatre, acrobatics and the baking of a Belgian classic. 24-28 April, across Brussels

Play Outside Day is as good for parents as it is for kids since everyone needs to get out from behind their screens and catch a few rays. The initiative was launched a number of years ago by Flemish children’s TV broadcasters, who shut down their programming for one Wednesday afternoon every year to encourage kids to get off the sofa. Rain or shine, there are loads of activities across Brussels and Flanders. C’mon, take the afternoon off, you know you want to. 24 April 13.00-17.00

Royal Greenhouses of Laeken

If it’s April, it’s time to crash the royal palace. Specifically, the vast network of the Royal Greenhouses at Laeken, which open to the public for a precious few weeks every spring. The beautiful structures of glass and steel were built in the 19th century and centre around the Iron Church, a grand dome that once also served as the royal palace’s chapel. The greenhouses are situated in the Royal Park, some of which is also visible to visitors. There are thousands of varieties of plants and flowers from all four corners of the world in the multitude of greenhouses with varying temperatures. Some of them are more than 100 years old, having been planted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Entry is a mere €2.50, all of which goes to the upkeep of the property. 19 April to 10 May, Avenue du Parc Royal

If the only music you’ve heard out of South Korea is K-Pop, check out Modern Sound Korea, the fifth edition of the annual Korean music festival. Several bands perform over two weekends, from electronic to surf to some wild experiments with traditional Korean gugak. It’s a great overview of South Korea’s contemporary underground and indie music scene. 21 April to 7 May, Beursschouwburg & Korean Cultural Centre

Whether you can relate to the title or not, you’ll be blown away by the I Love Science Festival. Experiments, workshops and talks demonstrate the basics of different subjects like gravity, big data and photonics, or the manipulation of light. There are even performances that find science making its own movie and clowns proving that if they can understand this stuff, you can, too. 26-28 April, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

It’s the 13th edition of the upbeat festival celebrating the culture of the countries of south-eastern Europe. Balkan Trafik! has become so popular, it’s expanding this year to take in a second venue. Concerts, DJs, theatre dance and literature let visitors experience the culture of the Balkan region. 24-28 April, Bozar & VK Concerts

Alice Sparkly Kat's ‘Astrologer’

Poppositions art fair was launched in 2012 as a fringe alternative to Art Brussels (see above). Unlike Art Brussels, it’s curated along the lines of a theme, which this year is Capital of Woke. Selections were chosen by a jury from submissions that came in from international galleries and artists, but also from arts non-profits and project spaces. The results is 26 selections assembled into one cohesive exhibition that looks at the term ‘woke’ and how its mainstream popularity intersects with corporate and capitalist structures. There are also talks, concerts and performances. 25-28 April, Le Centre Tour à Plomb, Rue de l’Abattoir 20

The phrase quality not quantity has never been better proven than at the Brussels Short Film Festival, which screens movies of less than 30 minutes from around the globe. Categories such as International, National, Rock’n’roll and Kids help you choose a screening, and you get a handful of films at every screening. Tip: National Competition 6 includes Belgian filmmaker Kato De Boeck’s Provence, already a multiple-award winner. For a reason. 25 April to 5 May, across Brussels

Brussels isn’t short on music festivals, but there’s none hipper than Les Nuits. Botanique hosts some cool eclectic stuff year-round, but they smash it all together for their annual bash dedicated to alternative music in the broadest sense of the word. Trying to choose among the dozens of shows is the only challenge, but we suggest throwing a dart at the programme and taking a chance. That’s what Les Nuits is all about. 23 April to 5 May, Botanique, Rue Royale 236 (Saint-Josse)

Anzac Day in Belgium


Anzac Day, Australia and New Zealand’s national day of remembrance, is a big deal in Belgium, with ceremonies taking place across memorial sites in the Westhoek. The countries’ embassies host a programme that begins at dawn at the Buttes New British Cemetery in the Polygon Wood, moves on to Tyne Cot for a laying of wreaths, takes in a special Last Post at the Menin Gate and ceremony at the Belgian War Memorial in Ypres and ends with a commemoration service in the Ploegsteert Wood Military Cemetery in Comines-Warneton. All the events are open to the public, and buses from Brussels have been arranged by the Australian and New Zealand embassies for their citizens. 25 April, across Westhoek

Cinema from around the world with a broad range of social themes, from poverty to forbidden love, is the focus of Flanders’ annual Mooov Film Festival. Check out, say, the critically acclaimed Sir, in which a wealthy Indian man falls in love with his servant, or Another Day of Life, a fascinating blend of live action and animation recounting the true story of Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski’s unforgettably dramatic journey through 1970s war-torn Angola. The festival is based in Turnhout and Bruges, with partial programmes in other towns. 23 April to 5 May, Turnhout and other locations in Flanders

Photos: Art Brussels 2018/Nicolas Party, winner SOLO prize 2018 at Xavier Hufkens/©David Plas, Proppositions/Broodthaers Society of America/Alice Sparkly Kat/‘Astrologer’/New York/©Alice Lan Yang, Royal Greenhouses/©Dirk Waem/BELGA, Anzac Day/Belga On the Spot

Written by Lisa Bradshaw