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What’s on this week: 26 May-2 June

16:01 25/05/2022
The holiday weekend is the occasion for a spring shower of cultural activities and events, many of them staged outdoors

The Brussels Jazz Weekend returns to its pre-pandemic glory days with some 150 free concerts staged in city squares, four stages in Etterbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Anderlecht and Evere and numerous indoor venues. Naturally, for this 6th edition, the music of Toots Thielemans is spotlighted as the Belgian capital marks the 100th birthday of its jazz icon with a celebratory programme of events. During the entire weekend, concerts in the Grand-Place will be dedicated to his work. The biggest jazz festival in Europe is synonymous with eclectic and vibrant styles of jazz as well as an infectious programme of urban entertainment. 27-29 May, multiple venues across the city

Brussels 20km

It’s still possible to sign up for the popular Brussels 20km in Cinquantenaire Park on Sunday. Even if you’re not a runner, you can support the participants and the numerous charity initiatives (the event raises over €2 million for great causes). It’s also a nice way to spend the day: DJs and live bands rock Bois de la Cambre as well as Cinquantenaire Park, site of the start and finish, where you’ll find stands and refreshments. The 40,000 runners, representing about 130 nationalities, are routed past the capital’s most beautiful monuments and through lush forests. Warning: streets will be blocked off for the duration of the event. 29 May, across Brussels

Core Festival

The brand new Core Festival entertains crowds this weekend with its multi-genre musical line-up and display of digital arts at the foot of the Atomium. A new concept launched by Tomorrowland and Rock Werchter, the programme features indie, hip hop, electronica, hyperpop and alternative dance music, performed across five stages. London hip-hop soul outfit Ezra Collective, US rapper Denzel Curry and Swedish pop/soul group Little Dragon are among the highlights. Popular Vietnamese street food outlet Bahn Mi will be feeding festivalgoers. 27 & 28 May, Osseghem Park (Heysel)

Courtesy ville de Jette

It’s the last Sunday of May, and that means Jette is rolling out its spirited street theatre festival Voenk. There’s circus, music, theatre and other fun activities for the whole family. It all takes place on Place Cardinal Mercier, and it’s all free. 29 May 13.00-20.00

(c)Courtesy Asmara-Addis

The Asmara-Addis Literary Festival (in Exile) has a rich title. It invokes the names of capitals of two countries many have had to flee and to those people’s state of being thereafter – never home, always in exile. Artists, writers and thinkers from around the world with roots in the African diaspora will discuss many topics under the theme Say it Loud: The Art of Unsubtlety. A Read-a-thon on the first day sees some eight languages taking to the stage. 29-31 May, across Brussels

Out Loud ©Lyse Ishimwe

One of Brussels’ most fab cultural centres, Beursschouwburg, invites you to the rooftop for the music festival Out Loud, every Thursday to Saturday. You may have to buy your drinks, but the concerts, views and golden sunsets are free. Doors open early for the after-workers and every show is followed by a DJ set for the after-hours partygoers. 2-25 June, Rue Auguste Orts 20

Kim_Gordon, courtesy AB

As if Kim Gordon could get any cooler … she named her solo debut album No Home Record after the documentary No Home Movie by the late Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. Gordon’s seminal indie rock band Sonic Youth disbanded some 10 years ago, but the singer-guitarist-bassist rocketed back into fame in 2019, winning unanimous praise for releasing one of the best albums of the year. Fans of Sonic Youth’s singular guitar stylings and avant-garde noise fell in love all over again. Irish art-punk band Pretty Happy opens the show at the AB. 29 May 19.00, Boulevard Anspach 110

Berlin Brussels Art Project

Berlin Brussels Art Projects is a group show curated by Marie-Therèse Huppertz at the hip pop-up gallery Learning to fly. Offering a new perspective on contemporary art in the German capital, she's selected various Berlin-based artists: painter and multimedia artist Klaus Killisch, Belgian photographer Eddie Bonesire, painter and graphic designer Dieter Goltzsche, painters Sabine Hermann and Anna Slobodnik, and architect turned visual artist Matthieu Zurstrassen (also open by appointment: 0470.97.88.58, Until 31 July, Thurs-Sun 12.00-18.30, Place de la Vieille Halle aux Blès 25/26

Coudenburg Sound Box (c)V Evrard

Coudenberg Palace’s Sound Box Festival lets you experience the historical site under Brussels’ streets with a specially designed soundscape. Bring your phone or tablet along to hear the playlist, put together by musicologist Matteo Gemolo. It takes you from the 17th and 18th centuries to contemporary jazz, all inspired by the underground remains of this former royal palace. Permanent show, Place des Palais 7

After a first edition skewed by the pandemic, the contemporary dance Festival TB² returns to the capital with an additional bounce in its step. On the programme are evening performances at its two collaborating venues (19.00 at Théâtre les Tanneurs; 21.00 at Les Brigittines). The addition of free outdoor performance includes a participatory choreography with Julien Carlier (his show Collapse, pictured) and a final show open to everyone, La Spire by Chloé Moglia. 1-11 June, Rue des Tanneurs 75-77 and Petite Rue des Brigittines plus public spaces

Laugh out loud at the power, intrigue and bureaucracy of the EU bubble at the House of Europe’s latest impro show. The comic evening is staged by ImproBubble, founded by Kelly Agathos, and features students and professional improvisors. 29 May 20.30, Théâtre l’Improviste, Rue de Fierlant 120 (Forest)

Night of the Musicals

Book now A Night of the Musicals. Brussels’ professional English-language The Bridge Theatre offers a, entertaining feast of musical theatre with a cast of five local musicians. They take the audience on a journey though the history of popular musicals with 16 songs, from classics such as Annie Get Your Gun to contemporary hits like You Will Be Found (Dear Evan Hansen). The show also provides a taster of what to expect in the upcoming season. 21 June, 20.00, Théâtre Molière, 3 Square du Bastion (Ixelles)

Outside Brussels

Namur en Mai 2020

One of Belgium’s most convivial street theatre festivals, Namur in May, makes its triumphant return to the Walloon capital this weekend. The arrival of the fairground arts fiesta is welcomed as a long-awaited ray of sunshine by residents and visitors alike. Setting up camp in the narrow streets and squares of the historic cobbled centre, fairytale lamps suspended above the streets are decorative and colourful by day, festive and magical at night. Carousels, mime artists, jesters, clowns, buskers and performers fill theatres, streets and impromptu spaces in some 100 shows (both free and paying). At the end of the day, concerts, cabaret and comedy shows perform under big tops. 26-29 May, across the city of Namur

Axel Vervoordt-Kanaal52770-©JanLiégeois

Belgium’s second city is also a contemporary art hotspot, which is why the Antwerp Art Weekend is a great opportunity to discover the city’s leading galleries, museums, art schools and other project spaces opening their doors to the public this weekend. Over 50 venues participate in the international event (pictured, Axel Vervoordt-Kanaal © Jan Liégeois). 26-29 May, across Antwerp

Lydia Ourahmane (c)Courtesy Visit Gent

Do you like to nose about other people’s homes when they’re not around? Then you will take to Algerian artist Lydia Ourahmane’s exhibition Barzakh. It isn’t just a recreation of her home in Algiers – it’s almost everything from her actual apartment, moved to the Smak museum and set up in precisely in the same layout. Barzakh means ‘limbo’ in Arabic, referring to the state between life and death but also to a physical space that offers protection. The exhibition explores the role played by memories and familiar possessions in the meanings we attach to ‘home’. Until 18 September, Jan Hoetplein 1, Ghent

Festival Resonances

A jewel of a chamber music festival that takes audiences on a musical journey into the world of fairytale, myth and fantasy for its 2022 edition. Every year, the Resonances Festival gathers talented international musicians to rehearse at the gorgeous Château de Halloy before staging intimate performances of chamber music in the 12th-century manor’s former stables. It opens with an evening of music by Bach, Mozart and Brahms, includes a free concert for children, an open masterclass and a festive dinner with the musicians. The manor’s bar and restaurant are open after every performance. 26-29 May, Château de Halloy, Route du Chateau de Halloy (Ciney)

Written by Sarah Crew and Lisa Bradshaw