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What’s on this week: 30 April to 6 May

12:55 29/04/2021
Our pick of the best activities in and around Brussels – and online – for the coming week

Some 90 theatres, cinemas, concert halls and cultural centres across the country are staging events under the Still Standing for Culture movement. A grassroots campaign that sprang up with the goal of convincing politicians that cultural venues can open safely, Still Standing is taking matters into its own hands by encouraging venues to host activities safely over the next week. See a movie at Nova, open air acrobatics at La Roseraie or a classical concert on Place St Croix. Just stick to the corona measures in place wherever you decide to go. 30 April to 8 May

Elles Tournent, which supports women filmmakers, launches the new festival Graines de Cinéastes. On the programme are more than 30 short films by emerging women filmmakers from Belgium, including fiction, documentary and animation. There are also Q&A sessions with filmmakers and livestreamed discussions. Almost all films are subtitled in English. 7-16 May

After being cancelled last year, Brussels’ prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition had hoped very much to welcome an audience in 2021, but it is not to be. Instead the annual competition for young musicians, which rotates among piano, violin, voice and cello – this year it’s piano – will be broadcast live. You can find all the rounds on the competition’s website, and the semi-finals and finals on Canvas and La Trois. Or listen on Klara or Musiq3. 3-29 May

 Photograph of Pierre Moreau

It may be hard to imagine the Sablon as a wetland now, but it once was, with grasses and fine sand blowing against Brussels’ city walls. The photographer Pierre Moreau recalls this history with photographs of beaches and seascapes decorating the windows and facades of the businesses along the Rue Lebeau. A collaborative project with Association de patrimoine artistique, Sous les pavés, la plage also hastens passers-by to think of the future, as the modernist Proximus building across the street is threatened with demolition. 1 May to 31 August, Rue Lebeau & Place de la Justice

You’ll have to wait for next year for the tell-tale sights and sounds of Brussels’ big book fair Foire du Livre at Tour & Taxis, but at least you can enjoy talks, readings and workshops by some 250 authors – all for free. There are also real-life signings in bookshops across the capital. All activities are in French except for the bilingual Flirt Flamand programme, which sees Dutch and French-language authors getting together to ‘flirt’ with Belgium’s infamous language border. 6-16 May

Painting 'The Ultimate Kiss' by Jacqueline de Jong

Wiels presents The Ultimate Kiss, a retrospective of work by the long-time Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong. The painter, sculptor and graphic artists uses bright colours and bold strokes to create figurative works that are sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing and always subversive. 2 May to 15 August, Avenue Van Volxem 354 (Forest)

The programme of this year’s Brussels Dance is made up of productions from 16 venues meant to be on stage in May and June. They all come together for this festival of contemporary dance. Some are free and some are ticketed, with so much on offer that visitors can create their own programme for two months of entertainment. All events, indoors and out, are going forward with corona safety measures in place. 1 May to 30 June, across Brussels

The War Heritage Museum has extended Echoes of Silence, an exhibition of work by Belgian photographer Luc Mary-Rabine. His photographs of concentration and extermination camps make clear the scope of the massacres during the Second World War. Until 29 August, Cinquantenaire Park 3

 Still from the movie A New Shift

The Millenium Documentary Film Festival goes online with more than 60 films as well as livestreamed debates. Subjects in the wide range of new documentary features range from retraining coal miners to recording memories during Alzheimer’s to the state of democracy around the world. Films are a mere €4 each – and €15 buys you the whole programme. All films subtitled in English or French. 5-30 May

The Breathe with Brussels campaign brings together a wealth of open-air activities, some of which introduce visitors to lesser-known outdoor spots. Play a role in a medieval adventure in the woods, go on a bike tour or discover the basilica and its massive surrounding park. Special combo tickets are available through the campaign.

 Portrait of a young Napoleon


The Memorial of the Battle of Waterloo launches Napoleon: From Waterloo to Saint Helena, the Birth of a Legend on the 200th anniversary of the death of one of history’s most famous figures. As the title suggests, it focuses on the period between Napoleon’s downfall at this very site in 1815 and his final banishment to Britain’s tiny island in the South Atlantic. Another exhibition devoted to Napoleon is taking place now in Liège. 5 May to 17 October, Route du Lion 1815, Braine-l’Alleud

The Land of Memory project sees the Great Region, a cross-border co-operation between the border areas of Belgium, France, Luxembourg and Germany, collaborating on war commemoration and tourism. One of its first initiatives is Our Common Heritage, a unique installation inside shipping containers that immerses visitors in locals’ lives over five distinct periods – pre-war, First World War, Interwar, Second World War and post-war Europe. It premieres in Bastogne, the site of the Battle of the Bulge. Our Common Heritage is free and staged at the Mardasson Memorial, next to the Bastogne War Museum. Until 16 May

Photos, from top: ©Lady Cocktail; ©Pierre Moreau; courtesy of the artist Jacqueline de Jong, photo by Gert-Jan van Rooij; A New Shift, courtesy Millenium; courtesy Memorial of the Battle of Waterloo


Written by Lisa Bradshaw