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What’s on this week: 21-27 December

14:16 20/12/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Looking for a post-Christmas pick-me-up? A two-kilometre trail of glowing light installations creates a fairy-tale atmosphere in the Meise Botanic Garden, just over the border with north Brussels. A lovely place any time of year, the garden’s ponds, trees and winter plants provide a perfect interplay to the Winter Floridylle audio-visual spectacle. The event comes complete with live music and a winter village with food trucks perched on a former farmstead. Tickets are sold for specific hours of entry, so pick them up ahead of time to avoid potentially long waits. 27-29 December & 3-5 January, Nieuwelaan 38, Meise

There’s nothing like a Christmas concert in a cathedral. The Christmas of the Angels features works from the French and Belgian repertoire, including Gabriel Fauré and François Gevaert, performed by the La Cambre Abbey choir and accompanied by the cathedral’s famous organ. 27 December 18.00, Saint Michael and Saint Gudula Cathedral, Rue du Bois Sauvage

Cinematek chose a rich subject when it decided to do a themed cycle called Mothers and Daughters. Coming up this week is Gas Food Lodging, a splendid 1990s look at a single mum of two teenage daughters in a dusty, dead-end American town, and Douglas Sirk’s brilliant and racially charged Imitation of Life, shot just before Hollywood nefarious Production Code temporarily destroyed socially engaged cinema. Until 10 February, Cinematek, Rue Baron Horta 9

System 2

For kids who understand French, the Christmas Festival put on by Chambre des Théâter pour l’Enfance et la Jeunesse is an end-of-year must-do. Spread across nine venues in the capital, there are 24 shows to choose from for all age ranges. Dip into comedy, dance, acrobatics or more serious productions that questions the influence of the digital revolution on our lives. For the littler kids, check out the playful System 2, in which two white-coated workers argue with an unseen boss (and with each other), and for the older kids don’t miss the award-winning #Vu, a look at the dark side of social media culture. 26-30 December, across Brussels

The holidays do not slow down the Kanal Centre Pompidou, which offers free guided tours every Saturday straight through the year-end. Join the Dutch tour at 18.00, the English at 19.00 or the French at 20.00. Saturdays, Quai des Péniches

Brussels’ Christmas market Winter Wonders really comes into its own the weekend before the big holiday. Along with the never-ending chalets, fun fair and ice skating are a light parade, the Winter Vox singers at Sainte-Catherine church and the mobile Winter Pop pop-up market on Place Joseph Bonoit Willems in Laeken. Across Brussels

Dancing in the dark

Bruce Springsteen’s famous ‘Dancing in the Dark’ was about letting go of your own inhibitions, and First Light Brussels’ event of the same name gets behind this – literally. The lights go out and everybody starts to dance. Held in a medieval cellar, it’s not so dark that you smash into people, but dark enough so you can dance like no one is watching, so to speak. It’s a fully sober, daytime event that ends with a candlelight cool down and meditation to welcome in the light of the longer days. 22 December 10.00-12.00, Galeries de la Reine 26

Looking for a Christmas service in English? Join the faithful at the International Protestant Church in Auderghem on Christmas Eve or at the St Croix church in Rixensart on Christmas Day. Brussels’ Holy Trinity Anglican church in Ixelles has two services on both days and also a New Year’s Eve Watchnight service. 24-25, 31 December, Brussels and Rixensart

Join the Yalda concept store, which sells handmade products from Iran and the Persian area, for Yalda Night, a celebration of the solstice. Talks and poetry by 14th-century poet Hafez will be read in the original Persian with translation into French. 21 December 19.00-21.30, Rue de Rollebeek 46

Brussels Philharmonic and the Flemish Radio Choir give us Frans Lehár’s The Merry Widow, a box-office hit in 1905 and still a crowd-pleaser today. (Sung in the original French, with Dutch surtitles) 21-22 December 20.15, Flagey, Place Sainte-Croix (Ixelles)

Knokke-Heist Light Festival

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

Knokke-Heist’s storytelling and interactive Light Festival takes inspiration for its first edition from The Little Prince. Along three kilometres, massive light installations beautifully illustrate pieces from the beloved children’s book. The entire city is playing along, with the theme sneaking into other holiday décor. All signs point to this being well worth a trip to the coast. 21 December to 6 January 17.00-22.00, across Knokke-Heist, start at tourist office, Zeedijk 660

More than 150 pieces from the exquisite collection of La Boverie, Liège’s fine arts museum, are on view during the Chefs D’oeuvre exhibition. Some of them have been in storage for years while the museum was being renovated, while others have undergone a restoration. From Renaissance masters to contemporary works, you’ll see the passing of art history before your very eyes. Artists include Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, James Ensor, Simon Hantaï and Rik Wouters. 21 December to 20 August, La Boverie, Parc de la Boverie, Liège

Written by Lisa Bradshaw