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What’s on this week: 25 November-1 December

12:27 24/11/2022
The holiday season kicks off in the capital as well as towns and cities around the country. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of art exhibitions or stand-up comedy to equally divert you from the seemingly relentless World Cup coverage!

As one of Europe’s most popular Christmas markets, Winter Wonders is on a mission to further boost its reputation with a raft of new attractions. A Secret Garden in the Grand Hospice introduces a green festive oasis with sparkling lights, concerts, entertainment and wood-burning saunas. Nearby, the facade of Sainte-Catherine church enjoys dustings of winter snow thanks to digital illuminations. At Mont des Arts, magical swings compose original tunes, and in Place de la Monnaie, visitors can try their hand at the popular Olympic sport of curling. The Galerie Horta stages the immersive experience Spirit of the North, a winter scene full of interactive fun for all ages.

Winter Woods

All the traditional favourites are maintained: more than 200 wooden chalets, a ferris wheel, an ice rink, glittering parades and a Christmas tree and nativity scene in the Grand Place, which comes alive with a sound and light show every evening. Brussels by Lights will surprise with illuminated geometric forms suspended above streets in the Chartreux quarter, while phosphorescent frescoes brighten up empty show windows. Creators Factory returns over five weekends with its Christmas designer market in Halles Saint-Géry, along with other ethical and artisan sales. Outside the city centre, Bois de la Cambre is transformed into a winter wonderland (pictured above), complete with an ice rink, illuminations and enticing refreshment stands, while Winter Pop events are staged in Neder-Over-Heembeek, Ambiorix square and Laeken. 25 November to 1 January 12.00-22.00 (Bois de la Cambre 2 December to 8 January)

Christmas bazaar

The Association Femmes d'Europe holds it annual Christmas Bazaar in the Atrium of the European Commission building, selling a wide range of seasonal items, including regional foods, clothes, jewellery, artisanal soaps and more. All proceeds are heading for the association's humanitarian projects. 26 November 10.00-17.00, Rue Joseph II 79 


A popular fair of contemporary art in Brussels, the traveling Art3F features thousands of paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works of original art, often in the presence of the artists themselves. The central bar-restaurant features live jazz throughout the day. With a very democratic entry price compared to other art fairs, it’s a fun day out. 25-27 November, Brussels Expo, Place de Belgique 1

Herstory (c)Marta Dell’Angelo, courtesy Parlamentarium

The first woman president of the European Parliament was French politician Simone Veil, elected in 1979. It was she who founded the parliament’s contemporary art collection, so it’s fitting that an exhibition be dedicated to works from the collection by female artists. Art Herstory illustrates a number of themes crucial to women across Europe over the decades and offers a panorama of women’s artistic perspective in general. Until 8 March (International Women’s Day), Parlamentarium, Rue Wiertz 60

Czech authors (c)Jiri Vercak (left)

Two of the Czech Republic’s most famous writers – Jáchym Topol and Markéta Pilátová – are reading from and discussing their work with Belgian sociologist Peter Vermeersch. Pilátová splits her time between Europe and South America and authored a fascinating memoir of a Czech business magnate who fled the Nazis, ultimately building four cities in Brazil and encouraging thousands of Europeans to move there. Topol, meanwhile, is widely recognised as one of the best authors in Europe – and certainly a visionary. His 2017 novel sees a circus family fleeing pro-Brexit forces in the UK only to wind up in a Ukrainian-Russian war zone. (In English and Czech) 30 November 20.00, Passa Porta, Rue Antoine Dansaert 46

Guitar festival

The 11th Brussel’s International Guitar Festival and Competition offers a full programme in the atmospheric Théâtre du Vaudeville in the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. Concerts, shows, master classes and exhibitions as well as the public final rounds of the national, international and composition competitions guarantee the very best in guitar entertainment in Europe. Every guitar genre is performed, and fans can discover two of Belgium’s most famous guitarists. The Ilse and Nicholas Alfonso exhibition displays incredible archives and documents that follow their exceptional lives and contributions to the guitar industry. All events are free. 25-29 November, Théâtre du Vaudeville, Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

EU comedy thing

The EU Comedy Thing is back in Brussels, providing a stage for several outstanding comedians who’ve mastered their craft on the international circuit. Host is Anglo-Belgian Nigel Williams, whose jokes aren’t the most politically correct, but usually have audiences chortling. The line-up consists of George Zacharopoulos from Greece, Jacob Taarnhøj from Denmark and Xavi Castells from Spain. Tickets also include one free drink of your choice. 1 December, Le Bouche à Oreille, Rue Felix Hap 11 (Etterbeek)

The Schuman Show

Now in its 48thseason, Saturday Night Live has used comedy to reveal the lies and deceit of American politicians. Well, that’s what the Schuman Show is trying to replicate in Europe. With a cast of journalists and improv actors, audiences can expect some funny and satirical jokes on current EU affairs including the elephant in the room, Brexit. Tickets are still available for next week’s upcoming show. 1 & 2 December, Chaussée de Boondael 32-36, Espace Lumen (Ixelles)


Interactive exhibition Luminopolis explores every aspect of light and its effects on our day-to-day life. Visitors will be able to group up as teams and attempt to solve various light-based puzzles within a time limit. An exciting new way to understand more about the nature of our world. Until 13 August 2023, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Rue Vautier 29


Have you long dreamed of visiting Tokyo? Well, everyone can now go without booking a flight thanks to the new digital exhibition, Tokyo Art City. It immerses visitors into the high-tech Japanese capital and its diverse and cutting-edge culture. Seven iconic districts are open to explore with 360° immersion, never before seen detailed projections of cherry blossoms, packed streets and iconic monuments, as well as interactive projections that make this much more than just a viewing experience. 1 December, Viage Digital Art Theatre, Boulevard Anspach


Get tickets now After 10 years of debate-sparking events in the Belgian capital, Full Circle launches its first Festival of Ideas. In exploring the theme ‘Better’, it presents myriad live activities designed to stimulate, inform, enrich and entertain audiences. International thinkers and doers are invited to the stage to share their big ideas and spark meaningful conversations with the audience on some of the issues that define our age, including AC Grayling (pictured above). 2-4 December, Full Circle House, Chaussée de Vleurgat 89, Ixelles

Ex-libris de Marie de Hongrie ornant le manuscrit des Basses danses (KBR, ms. 9085)

Book now: The Basses Danses manuscript  For two days only, the KBR is putting Margaret of Austria’s famous “Basses Danses” on show to the public, something it has not done for 30 years. There are only seven medieval manuscripts with black parchment paper, and this is one of them. Black symbolised wealth, and “Basses Danses” is further penned in gold and silver ink, further emphasising its importance to the Burgundian court. The incredibly delicate manuscript describes 58 dances, accompanied by their melodies and choreographic instructions. See it now – or wait another 30 years. 3 & 4 December, Mont des Arts 28


(c)Courtesy Putteke Winter

Recreation domains across Flanders are lighting the fires for Putteke Winter, evening festivals of light installations, music, fire performances and mysterious forest figures. While they all have this in common, every location has its own character. Buy tickets to your chosen location ahead of time; they regularly sell out. Until 13 January, across Flanders

Grafixx (c)Mamma Andersson

Welcome to the 10th anniversary edition of Grafixx, the international festival of graphic arts. Graphic novels and zines are discussed, deconstructed and celebrated with exhibitions, talks, workshops, performances and film screenings. Many activities are in English, such as a fanzine workshop with author José Quintanar and a talk by the internationally renowned Swedish artist Mamma Andersson. 25-27 November, De Studio, Maarschalk Gérardstraat 4, Antwerp


Creative Nature is a group exhibition that brings together the best of European artists in the field of contemporary applied art. Together with Belgian creators, they revisit the notion of reservoir in an inspiring way, while inviting us to question its origins, which are closely linked to the nature of human beings. It’s supported by the Michelangelo Foundation and was initiated by the Homo Faber event in Venice. (pictured: work by Thérèse Lebrun ©Paul Gruszow. Until 12 February, Anciens abattoirs de Mons, Rue de la Trouille 17


The seasonal sound and light show Mémoire de Forêt at the magnificent Château de Rixensart is just one of the scintillating Christmas attractions in the grounds of the Brabant Walloon estate this winter. Actors and dancers features in the video-mapping show that recounts the history of the heritage site and how it has long been protected by forest spirits. On a practical note, there’s numerous car parks dotted around the site. 25 November-11 December, Château de Rixensart, Drève du Château

Photos: Herstory (c)Marta Dell’Angelo, courtesy Parlamentarium; Czech authors (c)Jiri Vercak (left); Guitar festival: Eerik Maurage & Thomas Montagne, guitares (Bel/Fr); Ex-libris de Marie de Hongrie ornant le manuscrit des Basses danses (KBR, ms. 9085); (c)Courtesy Putteke Winter; Grafixx (c)Mamma Andersson; lebrun-therese-c-p-gruszow


Written by Sarah Crew, Lisa Bradshaw, Louis Kernoa-Pascoe