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What’s on this week: 3-9 May

10:55 02/05/2019
Our top picks of culture and activities in Brussels

Pray the rain stays away, people, because Brussels’ biggest open-air festival is upon us. The Iris Festival sees dozens of free activities setting up across the capital, with concerts taking centre stage. Friday is Electro Night at Place des Paleis, with the world’s top DJs – the likes of Claptone and Nora en Pure – while Saturday presents Made in Belgium, starring local wonders Todiefor, Girls in Hawaii, L’Or du Commun and Blu Samu. Meanwhile, street theatre, themed villages, sports and food take over Brussels Park. This year is the 30th anniversary of the creation of the Brussels-Capital Region, so a special 30 Years of the Region section boasts exhibitions, documentaries and a big secret to be revealed at the Museum of Natural Sciences. Happy Birthday, Brussels! Until 5 May, across Brussels

No doubt you’ve seen the posters: The Brussels tram network turns 150 years old this year. Stib and the Tram Museum are hosting Tram 150, with parades of vintage trams. Passengers can hop aboard for a tour. Saturday, the eighth edition of Europe’s Best Tram Driver takes place in Brussels, while on Friday, Manneken Pis will sport the same new outfit that debuts on real tram drivers. How cute is that? Until 5 May, across Brussels

Belgian Pride, a celebration of the LGBTI community, kicks off on with a free reception at City Hall, followed by a procession that will pass by Manneken Pis, resplendent in rainbow colours. Later there are parties, rainbow tours of the capital, debates, theatre and more, all culminating in the big Pride Parade, which winds through the capital on 18 May. The Rainbow Village in the neighbourhood around Rainbow House, on Rue du Marché au Charbon, is a Pride hot spot. 3-19 May, across Brussels

European Institutions

What do you mean you haven’t visited the European institutions? All is forgiven if you and the fam head to Open Day this weekend when the EU throws open its doors to educate and engage visitors. Take part in a public debate in parliament, sit in your minister’s seat in the European Council and take an interactive walk to learn exactly what Europe has done for you lately. This is only a smattering of the many opportunities, and kids’ activities abound, too. 4 May, European institutions

Ancienne Belgique also celebrates Europe Day with a series of discussions in English on the importance of culture to the European project. It all ends in music, naturally, with Turkish Psychedelica Night. Everything is free, but reserve in advance. 7 May 15.15-22.00, AB, Boulevard Anspach 110

Looking for an escape from this busy weekend in Brussels, what with the Iris Festival, Tram 150 and Belgian Pride all taking to the streets? Don’t hesitate to step into the Art et marges museum of art brut for the show Rencontres intergalactiques, featuring the work of Belgian artist Serge Delaunay and French artist André Robillard. Delaunay’s obsession for mechanics and the galaxy provides a fascinating juxtaposition with Robillard’s weapons, made from found objects. They are, he says, “to kill poverty”. Until 9 June, Art et marges, Rue Haute 314


The Kunstenfestivaldesarts performance and arts festival takes place all across Brussels, and is especially site-specific, with artists from around the world picking just the right garden, church, parking garage or abandoned pub to stage their performance or exhibition. Some pieces are even created for the chosen spot. Still others are staged inside theatres and cultural venues. There is no better way to discover Brussels inside and out, not to mention a host of international dancers, theatre companies and artists. Staunchly bridging the language border, the festival’s constant is the desire to create dialogue. 10 May to 1 June, across Brussels

“Spring, it is a poem. We talk about it, we practice it, we wait for it.” With these words by the late French novelist Alphonse Boudard, the Musée Charlier announces free entry on Sunday. It houses a rich collection of works by Belgian artists of the 19th century. 5 May 12.00-17.00, Avenue des Arts 16 (Saint-Josse)

Brussels Nature Week offers guided walks through the capital’s green spaces and screenings of nature films in co-operation with Namur’s nature film festival. Discover hidden places with more biodiversity than you thought possible, medicinal plants, native bird species and more. 1-12 May, across Brussels

Looking ahead: Ommegang  If you’ve only seen the parade associated with Ommegang and would like a solid view of the massive spectacle on Grand Place, then get your ticket now. There are still some good seats left. For the uninitiated: The event, part of Brussels’ Carolus Festival, is the re-enactment of the festivities staged for Charles V’s entry to the city in 1549. A grand Brussels tradition, 1,400 participants play musicians, dancers, knights, flag-bearers and more. 26 & 28 June, Grand Place

Toer de Geuze


Just over the Brussels border is one of Belgium’s most picturesque landscapes, namely Pajottenland. While people like to cycle, walk and wander around castles, you probably know it best for its beer – the famous kriek and geuze. This weekend, area breweries open their doors for the Toer de Geuze. Entry to the breweries and to the De Lambiek visitor centre are totally free, as are tastings. A coach tour of all the breweries is available, too, leaving from In de Verzekering tegen de Grote Dorst, one of the most famous pubs in Europe. 4-5 May, across Flemish Brabant

Photos: Iris Festival/©Eric Danhier/Visit Brussels, Open Day European Institutions courtesy Visit Brussels, Kunstenfestival courtesy Wichaya Artamat, Toer de Geuze courtesy Lindemans Brewery/YouTube

Written by Lisa Bradshaw