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What’s on this week: 29 November to 5 December
Calling Brussels’ annual holiday festival a ‘Christmas market’ doesn’t do it justice. While Winter Wonders has everything a good Christmas market should – more than 200 stalls with food and gifts, an endless array of lights, an ice skating rink and fun fair rides – Brussels goes many steps further. A light show every 30 minutes plays off the Grand Place’s glorious architecture and 22 metre-high Christmas tree. A high-tech dome features audio-visual performances, films and concerts. Parades are a regular occurrence, some of them quite spectacular. And Winter Pop sees smaller versions of all this sprouting up in other neighbourhoods in the capital. The main market lasts five weeks, which gives you time to do it all. 29 November to 5 January, across Brussels
As anyone over 60 knows, older generations tend to be written off as tired and old-fashioned, when in fact their expansive experience and ever-growing wisdom is invaluable at every level of society. Le Dernier Salut stars three mature actors playing three mature actors who lament their upcoming retirement in a fun piece that gets you out of the theatre and into the streets. (in French) Until 21 December, Theatre National, Blvd Émile Jacqmain 111
The Brussels Dance Scottish club is offering introductory sessions on Tuesdays in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and on Thursdays in Saint-Gilles. Basic steps and formation of ceilidh and Scottish country dances are taught in English.
The Bruegel year isn’t over yet, and the Atomium will host its part of the commemoration far into 2020. This year is the 450th anniversary of the Flemish Renaissance master’s death, and the capital has been honouring it in a big way. Bruegel: A Poetic Experience is the latest in a series of events and focuses on the man’s inner dialogue: What did he think of the world he lived in? Why did he choose to represent it – sometimes nobly, sometimes grotesquely – in the way he did? Scenes from his paintings come to life in this unique interactive exhibition for all ages. Until 13 September 2020, Atomium, Place de l’Atomium
Performance artist Samah Hijawi unpacks a great deal of colonial history in Godefroid: The Bastard Son of Antar Bin-shaddad, which she performs in the Fine Arts Museum. Inspired by Brussels’ statue of Godfrey of Bouillon, she travels from Jerusalem to Brussels to London and back again, using narrative and images to invite us to look at how colonialism is deeply embedded in canonised European artworks. Free with museum entry. The 4 December performance is in Arabic, and the 5 December performance is in English. Both include French and Dutch surtitles. Fine Arts Museum, Rue de la Régence 3
Eric Andersen doesn’t have the familiarity of name as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell or Lou Reed, but the wrote songs for all of them. The American singer-songwriter is the subject of the new documentary The Songpoet, with its Belgian premiere in Bozar this week. Andersen will be on stage to chat about his literary inspirations and the folk singer as contemporary troubadour. (In English) 3 December 20.00, Bozar, Rue Ravenstein 23
Following similar exhibitions dedicated to Van Gogh and Bruegel, it’s Claude Monet’s turn to become larger than life. Monet: The Immersive Experience bathes visitors in lighted projections of the famous impressionist’s water lilies, poppies and setting suns. A 360-degree digital art experience brings 300 sketches and paintings and Monet’s studio to vivid life. Until 19 April, Horta Gallery, Rue du Marché Aux Herbes 116
Have you ever come across a piece of art that unexpectedly shocked you, angered you or, say, brought you to tears with its exquisite beauty? This is the focal point of Love. Hate. Debate: Start a Conversation with the ING Collection, the new exhibition at ING Art Center. The Belgian bank has carefully selected 60 pieces from its 2,000+ collection. Different periods are represented to illustrate art movements, both local and international. Information about each piece will encourage viewers to consider it in a different light, whether they love it, hate it or find it utterly perplexing. Until 15 March, Place Royale 6
More than 60 bars, restaurants and other venues are taking part in Spaghetti for Charity on 30 November. Some of them are more unique than others: You can eat spaghetti, for instance, in Flagey, with a view of the ponds, or on the top floor of the Aximax youth centre. A lot of places are already booked out, however, so sign up asap. Proceeds, by the way, go to homeless centre DoucheFlux, a place that offers showers, lockers and washing machines to one of Brussels’ most vulnerable populations.
Looking ahead: Les Contes D’Hoffmann Aside from all those season tickets holders, seats at La Monnaie can be even more difficult to get in December, when festive, fancy events are all the rage. So buy now to see this entertaining opéra fantastique in which the protagonist – the real-life Gothic horror writer ETA Hoffmann – wanders through three of his own short stories. (In French with surtitles in French and Dutch) 10 December to 2 January, La Monnaie, Place de la Monnaie 5
The longest-running Christmas market in Belgium is also one of the biggest: The Village de Noel in Liège boasts more than 200 chalets, non-stop entertainment, a fun fair and a toboggan run. True to its name, the heart of the festivities is a Christmas village, with citizens, a mayor, a city council and even its own post office. The atmosphere is taken up by local shopkeepers, leading the European Cities of Christmas Network to name Liège the European Capital of Christmas last year. 29 November to 30 December
It’s the 25th anniversary of the Leuven Short Film Festival, which features a wealth of local, international and award-winning films under 30 minutes. Leuven is also an Oscar qualifying festival, meaning that its grand prize winner automatically makes the Academy Awards longlist. Every screening is made up of several shorts along one of many themes, like Animation Nation, Flemish Competition or Focus Country (which is Greece this year). Taking place in the Stuk cultural centre, with its cosy café and central open-air terrace, and featuring many shorts by local filmmakers, the atmosphere is buzzy and jovial. 30 November to 7 December, Stuk, Naamsestraat 96