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What’s on this week: 25-31 October

11:11 24/10/2019
Our top picks of events and activities in and around Brussels

Ever seen an elephant sit on a Volkswagen bug? Well you can at Docks, as the Elephant Parade continues at the shopping centre into next month. The Elephant Parade is an free international exhibition of hand-painted baby elephant sculpture that are popping up in public spaces around the world. The idea is to raise awareness for conservation of the species. Artists painted the sculptures according to their own whims, so all are unique. There is a workshop for kids on 28 October. Until 4 November, dotted about Docks, Boulevard Lambermont 1

A foodie paradise awaits at the Salon De L’alimentation, the largest food event in Brussels. Sniff about endless food trucks and stands, follow a cooking workshop, watch a chef make complicated dishes easy. There are also plenty of opportunities to buy local and artisanal products as well as cookware and even kitchen furniture. Entry is free if you book online. Until 27 October, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

The often playful, always colourful work of Belgian artist Yves Zurstrassen is on show at Bozar, highlighting paintings from the last decade. Some works are very geometrically abstract, while others are carefully constructed layer by layer, resembling a collage. Until 12 January, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23

La Démence

Brussels big gay bash of the year attracts LGBT-ers from across Europe. La Démence is a four-night party that largely attracts men but embraces every kind of queer there is. It’s the 30th anniversary edition, and Friday and Sunday night at Fuse are sold out. But there are still tickets for the Thursday night opening party and the main event – with stage shows and a playroom – at the much larger Paleis on Saturday. 31 October to 3 November, Fuse & Paleis

While South Korea has been a darling of cinephiles the world over for some time, it was the Palm d’Or going to the quirky, disquieting Parasite this year that sealed the deal for the general public. Controversial themes, complex characters and glorious cinematography typify the works, and Korean directors are masters of instilling viewers with a general sense of unease. The annual Korean Film Festival will get you up to speed with recent releases and classics from the past. 31 October to 9 November,  Bozar & Cinema Galeries

Halloween! The holiday has finally come into its own in Belgium, with family attractions stocking up on ghosts, zombies and vampires. Check out Mini-Europe, where you’ll learn about this history of Frankenstein and medieval witches; Day of the Dead celebrations in the Marolles; and a roasted witch fingers cooking workshop at Le Wolf children’s bookstore. And the Museum of Fantastic Art, which embraced the holiday long before anyone else in the capital of Europe, puts on its usual tour of frights and a Halloween train. There are also plenty of activities for adults, like dance parties and Halloween Night at Kinepolis. If you’re looking to get out of Brussels for the ensuing long weekend, see below.

“When Faith Moves Mountains” by Francis Alÿs

VUB in Brussels is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the intriguing exhibition JRSLM: Paradise Lost Again, an exploration of the meaning of religion and spirituality in the 21st century. While our society has become “almost unbearably rational,” according to the curator, “conflicts are waged in the name of all kinds of religions and opinions, with populism and fake news the youngest members of the group.” Works come from renowned contemporary, as well as 19th and 20th-century, artists such as Michaël Borremans, Kati Heck, James Ensor and Félicien Rops. Until 15 December, Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus, Blvd de la Plaine 2 (Ixelles)

An evening of spectacular cello arrangements await as O-Celli takes the stage at the Royal Conservatory. The Brussels cello octet performs a varied programme, including the overture from La forza del destino, music from Fellini’s La Strada by Nino Rota and works by tango composer Astor Piazzolla. 26 October 20.00, Rue de la Régence 30

There is possibly no better choice than Vera Coomans to sing a set in a cemetery. The Belgian singer has a deep, haunting voice and a delivery that recalls old Irish traditional style. Her songs, whether covers of folk songs or original work, are hard to get out of your head. This concert, Warm Tears, in the historical Laeken Cemetery is sponsored by Epitaaf, which works to preserve funerary heritage. A tour of the cemetery proceeds the concert, and a drink follows. 26 October, tour at 19.00, concert at 19.45, Parvis Notre Dame 16

Looking ahead: ISF Holiday Club  Need a place to store your children during the Christmas school holidays? The ISF international schools in Tervuren and Waterloo open their Holiday Club to children aged three to 14 from other schools. Half-day and full-day options are available, and different languages are catered to. Be aware that international schools don’t always follow the same Christmas holiday schedule as Belgian schools. ISF Tervuren, Stationsstraat 3

Halloween at Namur Citadel

OUTSIDE BRUSSELS

Maybe it’s the dense forests or the plethora of medieval castles, but for whatever reason, Wallonia embraces All Hallows’ Eve in a big way. You don’t have to travel far to find a spooky citadel or a haunted hall. Château de Jehay, for instance, offers scary shows, magic music and ghoulish torchlit walks during its Nuit des la Sorcières, while the entire town of Durbuy is given over to a Halloween festival, with street theatre, musicians, monsters and concerts. Namur’s citadel is also full of horrors, as is animal park Pairi Daiza and amusement park Walibi. And that’s just a start. 25-31 October, across Wallonia

All the museums in Mons have come together for Momento Mons, a unique exhibition on the history of a place. Set up as a cabinet of curiosities, it’s like stepping into your great-grandmother’s house and piecing together her life through letters, photographs, artworks and other memorabilia. In this case, the subject is Mons, which whisks visitors into a story that exposes the fragility of life and knowledge. Every second Thursday, visitors are invited to the Nocturnes, with activities and nibbles. Until 26 January, Bam, Rue Neuve 8, Mons

Photos, from top: Courtesy Docks, Courtesy La Démence/Facebook, “When Faith Moves Mountains” (cropped)/Lima 2002/video in collaboration with Rafael Ortega and Cuauhtémoc Medina/©Francis Alÿs & Jan Mot Brussels, Courtesy Namur Citadel

Written by Lisa Bradshaw