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What’s on this week: 23-29 November

13:33 22/11/2018
Our top picks of cultural events and activities in and around Brussels

Just as the lights, stalls and general merriment of Winter Wonders cranks up in the centre of Brussels, Les Nocturnes du Sablon descends on the most picturesque of squares. It’s a sort of grown-up’s holiday market, with more emphasis on cocktails and jazz than Ferris wheels and cheap trinkets. There’s live music and plenty of lights, plus Art on Trees, which sees decorated trees in the surrounding streets, each one in the hands of one of the area’s merchants. Some stalls selling select products and a bit of performance throughout the day and evenings brings the whole winter atmosphere home. 29 November to 2 December, Place du Grand Sablon

Whatever your religious inclinations, or lack thereof, gospel music will show you a good time, and the series Gospel for Life, staged in Belgium’s most beautiful cathedrals and abbeys, is a seriously uplifting experience. There are two performances in Brussels’ Basilique this weekend. Until 21 December, across Belgium

Four men, four axes and a big pile of wood. What could go wrong? Find out during La Cosa, a fun and yet rather philosophical performance about human nature and humans’ interaction with nature. Good for kids aged nine and up, and no dialogue (outside of some grunting) means language isn’t an issue. 27 November to 2 December, Théâtre National, Blvd Émile Jacqmain 111

Bozar’s roof will be bouncing when Rumba Lumumba takes the stage. Both Congolese Rumba luminaries and a new generation pay tribute to the great statesman Patrice Lumumba in this celebration of his life through the song and dance he loved. 24 November 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23

Royal Park in Brussels

To understand the present, we have to look to the past. When it comes to the history of Brussels, that might be easier said than done. With its complex political, language, migrant and geographic aspects, getting a grasp on what has brought the capital of Europe to where it is today is no small task. The exhibition Designed Landscapes: Brussels 1775-2020, though, puts a whole lot into context. Tracing urban design and the creation of public space in the city since its fledgling role as a capital to today brings some perspective to its current infrastructure, as well as opens up the sometimes complicated problems that face landscape architects to the layperson. Interesting stuff. Until 31 March, Civa, Rue de l’Ermitage 55 (Ixelles)

With Saint-Nicolas around the corner, play is the order of the day at the games event Jeu t’aime. The eighth edition invites families to play board games, listen to storytelling and participate in activities for all ages thanks to a large selection of games and toys. Organised by Yapaka and the Cocof, the event, which promotes the benefits of play, also takes place in Charleroi, Dinant, Liège, Mons, Mouscron, Nassogne, Ottignies, Spa and Tournai (the majority include a second-hand market, ideal for recycling unused items). 25 November 10.00-18.00, Halles Saint-Géry, Place Saint-Géry 1

Art3f is the kind of fair that you walk into when you’re ‘just looking’ and walk out with a painting for every room. Or a tabletop sculpture or a bit of fine art photography. Billed as an international contemporary art fair that is personable and accessible, it does have a wide variety of genres and styles, with prices for every budget. 23-25 November, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

Oksana Zabuzhko and Jaroslav Rudiš

An interesting series of evenings awaits at Bozar, as five authors from Central Europe dive into the subject of how each of their country’s literary traditions and greats have influenced their own work. Options are diverse: While Oksana Zabuzhko, for instance, writes novels (Field Work in Ukrainian Sex, The Museum of Abandoned Secrets) firmly set in the 20th-century political landscape of her native Ukraine, Czech author Jaroslav Rudiš explores indie rockers and punk heroes in both novels and graphic novels. These two talks, paired with other authors, are in English, while a talk with Austrian novelist Arno Geiger will be in German. 29 November, 5 & 12 December, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

‘Ivory Madonna dying in the dust, waiting for the manna coming from the west’. It may have not been the cheeriest holiday tune ever produced, but it was a breakthrough hit for UB40, and you can relive those days, as well as hear the British reggae-pop band’s more contemporary numbers at their Brussels concert this week. 28 November 20.00, La Madeleine, Rue Duquesnoy 14

There’s some great stuff on this weekend at Peliculatina, the international festival of cinema from Latin America. You could catch Cocote, a film from the Dominican Republic in which a man is weighed down by familial expectations of revenge, or the decidedly much lighter Colombian film Candelaria, which sees an elderly couple rekindle an old spark when a video camera unexpectedly enters their lives. Don’t miss the chic closing gala at Flagey. Until 25 November, Vendome & Flagey (Ixelles)

How would Franz Schubert have presented his famous lieders if he were writing today? That’s the intriguing starting point for the ‘staged concert’ Silent Songs into the Wild. The emotions of the 19th-century composer’s songs are re-imagined by Berlin ensemble Nico and the Navigators using not just their voices but their whole bodies. 29 November 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

Le p’tit cirk circus tent

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

If you're looking for a beautiful country drive leading to a fabulous high wire and circus arts show, this is for you. The crazy and talented folks at Cirque Latitude 50 near Huy are welcoming the contemporary French circus troupe Le p’tit cirk’s show Les Dodos. Since the ill-fated dodos were flightless birds, naming your high wire acts after them might seem odd, but that’s what the show is all about: survival against the odds. Which is what Latitude 50 is all about, too. They set up 10 years ago with the quixotic dream of creating a vibrant and viable circus school and theatre in an isolated village in the beautiful heights of the Condroz. And managed the challenge. (Ages 6+) 23-25 November, Place de Grand-Marchin 3, Marchin (Liège province)

Whether your interest in comics is old school – Spirou, say, or Tintin – or lean more towards avant-garde graphic novels, you’ll find something to pique your interest at L’Usine À Bulles’s Liège International Comics Festival. This second edition combines comic art with many other forms, such as the visual and performance arts, to create a multi-media meeting space for all kinds of fans. You’ll find exhibitions, workshops, lectures, live drawing demonstrations and more. Special guests include Batem (André Franquin’s direct successor for Marsupilami); Ludo Borecki, one of the illustrators of The Smurfs; and French graphic novelist Nathalie Ferlut (Eve sur la balançoire, Artemisia). 25-26 November, Théâtre de Liège, Place du 20-Août 16

Written by Lisa Bradshaw, Sarah Crew and Richard Harris