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What’s on this week: 20-26 December

11:55 19/12/2019
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

The Darna Fest: Echoes of Moroccan Ceremonies shines a light on the many facets of contemporary Moroccan culture. Hosted by the Flemish-Moroccan culture house of the same name, there are exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, dance battles, slam and plenty of food and drink. 20-22 December, across central Brussels

The Belgian National Orchestra offers its rendition of The Snow Maiden once again this holiday season in Bozar. Based on the original play by Alexander Ostrovsky, with music by Tchaikovsky, it comes complete with live illustration and narration. The entire family is invited. 20 December (Dutch narration, French surtitles), 21 December (French narration, Dutch surtitles) 18.00-19.30, Rue Ravenstein 23

Brussels expat photographer Haryo Nindito specialises in art portraits, inspired by historical locations and fashion photography. Discover his work for a few short days in his first solo exhibition at Photo Gallery. 23-29 December, Galerie de la Reine 10

La Compagnie Tête à l’Envers

Chambre des Théâter pour l’Enfance et la Jeunesse puts on a Christmas Theatre Festival that always starts just after the eponymous holiday. Spread across nine venues in the capital, there are 22 shows to choose from for all age ranges. Dip into comedy, dance, acrobatics or more serious productions that delve into subjects like social status, alcoholism or losing a parent. 26-30 December, across Brussels

Every  year for the last several decades the Film Critics Union has handed out the Cavens Award to the best Belgian film of the year. In celebration of the organisation’s 65th anniversary, it is hosting a Cavens cycle at Flagey, with many past award winners screening. This week you can catch Jaco Van Dormael’s fantastical Mr Nobody (2008), André Delvaux’s Inquisition period piece L’oeuvre au noir (1988) or Joachim Lafosse’s family drama Nue propriété (2006). Until 30 January, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix

A swinging good Christmas concert awaits at Flagey as The Rat Pack take the stage. A bevy of local musicians, including Bent Van Looy and Tutu Puoane, join the VRT Big Band for a line-up of holiday tunes by the legendary crooners of the title, such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. 22 December 16.00, Place Sainte-Croix

Holy Trinity's Nine Lessons and Carols

If you like your Christmas services in English, don’t hesitate to visit the International Protestant Church in Auderghem for its Christmas Eve candlelight service or Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Ixelles, which has two Christmas Eve services and two Christmas Day services. Holy Trinity also hosts a service of the Nine Lessons and Carols at the St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral on 21 December.  

The Yalda concept store, which sells handmade products from Iran and the Persian area, hosts a celebration of the solstice. Yalda Night includes nibbles, readings from the work of 14th-century poet Hafez, in the original Persian with translation into French, and shopping discounts. 21 December 19.00-21.30, Rue de Rollebeek 46

Meise Botanic Garden is beautiful year round, but for a few choice evenings every year it turns into a fanciful forest bathed in a soft glow of lights. During Winter Floridylle, trails of glittering bulbs lead you through an audio-visual experience, peppered with live music. Part of the Botanic Garden, which is just across the Brussels border in Flemish Brabant, is an old farmstead, and here you’ll find a winter village with food trucks. 20 December to 4 January, Nieuwelaan 38, Meise

A Boxing Day concert in Brussels’ glorious cathedral is just the thing to ward away those post-Christmas doldrums. Belgian choir and ensemble The New Baroque Times performs on period instruments and throws in poetry, dance and visual arts in turn. Here they perform Messe de minuit, Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s masterpiece of French baroque, based on popular Christmas folk songs. 26 December 18.00, St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral, Rue du Bois Sauvage 15

Light Festival Knokke-Heist


The coast’s northernmost city introduced a new light festival last year to the delight of 140,000 visitors. Light Festival Knokke-Heist was centred around the story of The Little Prince, who returns this year to lead visitors through the next part of his tale. A three-kilometre parcours of magnificent planetary light installations should appeal to all ages. The breath-taking designs have been created by Belgian and international artists. The city’s shopping district also gets in on the act, with holiday décor featuring glittering celestial objects. 21 December to 5 January 17.00-21.00

Do you where you can find the biggest floating ice skating rink in Europe? Somewhere with a lot of big lakes, you might think. France? Sweden? Nope, the biggest ice rink located on water is in Pairie Daiza. It is open to visitors to the animal park in Brugelette during holiday festivities, which also include light installations, holographics, a Christmas market, giant snow globes of music-playing puppets and a wandering Santa (together with reindeer, obvs). Until 5 January, Domaine de Cambron, Brugelette (Hainaut)

Photos: Courtesy Darna Culture House; courtesy La Compagnie Tête à l’Envers ASBL; courtesy Holy Trinity; courtesy Light Festival Knokke-Heist

Written by Lisa Bradshaw