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What’s on this week: 24-30 January

12:05 23/01/2020
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

Back for an extraordinary 65th edition, the Brafa Art Fair acts as both exhibition space and marketplace. This year, for instance, visitors are invited to see some 35 paintings and drawings by the great Belgian Symbolist James Ensor. Brought together by Knokke’s Samuel Vanhoegaerden Gallery, some of them are even for sale. You’ll find many works by well-known artists at Brafa – such at a print by Bruegel and a painting by Pierre Bonnard (pictured above). But there is much that is easier on the wallet, including decorative objects, illustrations, sculpture, masks and all manner of ancient, modern and contemporary art. 26 January to 2 February, Tour & Taxis, Avenue du Port 86

It’s the Chinese New Year period, and the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra is celebrating it in Belgium. Conductor Yan Huichang leads the 80-strong orchestra through 3,000 years of Chinese music at Bozar. 27 January 20.00, Rue Ravenstein 23

The ‘bastard spirit’ of the annual Bâtard Festival continues to shine through, with performers turning normal ways of presenting the arts – theatre, say, or literature – on its ear. Throw a dart anywhere at the programme and just dive in to see something different, like a choreographed poetry reading or a weightlifter in a maths lesson. There are also free workshops and lectures. 28 January to 1 February, Beursschouwburg, Rue Auguste Orts 20 & Project(ion) Room, Rue de Praetere 55 (Uccle)

Le Semaine du Son

Sound is all around us, all day, every day. Sometimes this is pleasant (music), strangely comforting (neighbours coming and going) or annoying (leaf blowers). But mostly, like the drone of traffic or birds singing, it’s so ever-present that we don’t even notice it anymore – for better or worse. La Semaine du Son sharpens our awareness of sound through performances, installations, conferences, ‘sound walks’ and concerts in the dark. This 10th edition has expanded, taking in cities from Antwerp to Charleroi, but mostly Brussels, where the week began. Every single activity is free. 27 January to 9 February, across Brussels and Belgium

Achterland “stretches the very definition of dance,” wrote The New York Times when Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s seminal 1990 production hit the stages of the US. She was one of the first to integrate musicians into the actual performance on stage, and the geometric lighting – for which she would also become famous – creates wonderful patterns that serve as little territories. The dancers chase each other and take over one another’s spaces in a piece that seems to say that no matter how much we interact, we still keep a distance. 29 January to 9 February, Kaaitheater, Place Sainctelette 20

BrewDog meal

How does 365 free beers sound to you? If you don’t see a downside, show up at BrewDog for its re-opening party. The craft beer bar and restaurant next to Central Station has been closed for a couple of weeks for a renovation. But it’s back and will enter the first 100 people through the door in a prize draw for free beer for a year. 24 January from 16.00, Putterie 20

Discover the story of Max Fuchs on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Fuchs escaped Poland and went into hiding in Brussels. His harrowing story and other reflections on rescue and resistance will be the focus of a talk and film screening at the House of European History. (In English and French) 27 January 17.30-20.00, Rue Belliard 135 (in Leopold Park)

You and your children will learn more about the animals, climate and landscapes of Antarctica than you ever thought possible at this exhibition designed by Luc Jacquet, director of the celebrated film March of the Penguins. An immersive experience, you’ll be surrounded by 360° projections of places heretofore only seen by scientists. Don’t miss it. Until 30 August, Museum of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29

A Bump Along the Way

Scéal eile brings highlights of recent (Northern) Irish cinema to Belgium. A Bump Along the Way, screening in Brussels, is a charming comedy-drama that sees the free-spirited 40-something mum of a straight-laced teenager getting pregnant after a one-night stand with a bloke half her age. Calamity ensues. In Leuven, meanwhile, the documentary Gaza is a beautifully rich look at daily life in one of the world’s most dangerous places. Festivities culminate in a ‘surprise closing event’ in Ghent. 29-31 January

Ancienne Belgique celebrates The Sound of the Belgian Underground at a day-long event dedicated to musicians who are more interested in music than marketing. From experimental legends of the 1990s to ‘glitter princess’ whippersnappers, you’ll get a taste of nine seminal acts that have carved out a niche in clubs and studios across the country. 26 January from 14.30, AB, Anspachlaan 110




With the travelling exhibition Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh making waves in world capitals at the moment, Europa Expo decided to launch its own exhibition, which works to fill in the gaps. Tutankhamun: The Discovery of the Forgotten Pharaoh comes with a complete replica of King Tutt’s tomb as discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Artefacts found in the tomb were painstakingly copied by artisans at the Ministry of Egyptian Antiquities. The exhibition also includes more than 350 original artefacts, some never before seen by the public. Until 31 May, Liège-Guillemins station, Rue Serrurier-Bovy

Photos, from top: Pierre Bonnard’s ‘Jeune femme endormie’, 1894, courtesy Galerie Alexis Pentcheff/Brafa; Courtesy Le Semaine du Son; Courtesy BrewDog; Courtesy TIFFR; Courtesy Europa Expo

Written by Lisa Bradshaw