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What’s on this week: 20-26 November

17:07 19/11/2020
Our pick of Belgium’s best activities – online and off – for the coming week

The Winter Wonders Christmas market of course had to be cancelled, but Brussels has not been deterred from making the city centre festive beyond compare. The majestic 18-metre Nordmann fir is standing in the Grand Place as we speak, as is the traditional nativity scene. The tree is in the process of being decorated and will be lit up in all its glory by Tuesday, 24 November. That’s the day that Brussels by Lights launches, a veritable feast of light installations across downtown. The streets surrounding the Bourse and leading over to Sainte-Catherine are of course decked out, but this year you’ll also find all sorts of twinkly designs in Saint-Géry, the Saint-Jacques quarter, Place Agora and the European quarter, just to name a few. In the inner courtyard of Grand Place is a tree-shaped structure made of origami birds. Similar birds are also taking to the Saint-Hubert Galleries, where they dangle above our heads like golden doves. 24 November to 3 January, across Brussels-City

Still from the film Our Only Wish

The Korean Cultural Center’s Film Friday is online, and documentaries highlighting different aspects of South Korea’s recent history are currently in the spotlight. There are six films in all, and each one is up for a couple of weeks. Right now, you can see Our Only Wish, detailing student uprising of the 1980s, and Dynasty, about baseball’s arrival in the country. Subtitles are in English. Until 24 December

Critical Mass Brussels bike ride

The collective bike ride Critical Mass Brussels is going on during lockdown but a little differently. There are three starting points – Trône, Porte de Namur and Poelaert – and there’s no gathering at the end. Everyone rides more or less together, but distancing and with facemasks, if possible. Make sure your bike is sporting plenty of lights and bring along any music, flags or – popular among Critical Massers – pool noodles. 27 November from 18.00

Carillon at Kanal Centre Pompidou

American artist Charlemagne Palestine has brought his trademark crew of stuffed toys to the Kanal Centre Pompidou and decorated a carillon with them, hanging disco balls all around for good measure. It’s quite a sight, and if you peek through the windows of the ground floor, you can get a glimpse of it. Do it around 15.00 on Sundays and you’ll see the carillon played live in the cleverly titled series Keep Calm and Carillon. This is also streamed live on Facebook, featuring a different musician every week. Sundays 15.00, until 20 December

Aka Moon at Brosella

The Brossella summer music festival managed to take place in August, with limited capacity but no dip in enthusiasm – be it from the crowds or from the musicians. The folk and jazz festival is releasing some of the performances from this year’s edition online, and next up is Aka Moon. The world-jazz trio added guests to offer their version of Beethoven’s Opus 111. It debuts on Brosella’s Facebook page and will also be available to view afterwards. 25 November 19.30

Sculpture by Jean-Michel Folon at Villers


The beautiful ruins of Villers Abbey are open, which means that the open-air exhibition Folon: Sculptures, staged in and around the site, is open as well. The 20 modern sculptures add a quirky touch to the mystical Gothic atmosphere. Twentieth-century artist Jean-Michel Folon began his career as an illustrator, travelling from his birthplace of Brussels to Paris and the US to develop and expand his career. Adding watercolours to his repertoire, his work was regularly featured in books, magazines and on the cover of The New Yorker. He took to sculpture in the 1980s, creating uniquely fanciful figures that look like they might have popped off the page. Until 21 February, Rue de l’Abaye 55, Villers-la-Ville (Walloon Brabant)

The Bokrijk open-air museum in Limburg has been allowed to remain open, and it’s a nice change for getting a little exercise and letting the kids run around. To that end, the play equipment is also open. A one-way trail loops around the site, so distancing is assured. The 550-hectare Bokrijk site is home to centuries-worth of historical buildings and other structures, like windmills, that were dismantled in their original location in Belgium and rebuilt here. A trip to Bokrijk is like a trip back into time. There is a train stop at the domain. Until 18 December, Bokrijklaan 1, Genk

Photos, from top: ©Courtesy Winter Wonders, ©Courtesy KBS, ©Courtesy Critical Mass Brussels, ©Veerle Vercauteren/Kanal, ©Courtesy Brosella, ©Vincent Fifi/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw