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What's on this week: 14-20 July
This weekend, as a sort of a preview to Flowertime - the flower design extravaganza which will fill city hall and the Grand- Place in mid-August - there will be a citizen's flower (and fruit) carpet created in the Marolles on the 1500m² concrete slab at the foot of the Brigittines social housing buildings next to the Brigittines Art Centre that is the focus of the neighbourhood's regeneration. A design contest was held and Michael, a Marolles inhabitant, had the winning design. On Friday morning locals aided by flower carpet professionals will create a 60m² carpet which will be inaugurated with a colourful ceremony at 13.00. On Saturday there will be a giant pot-luck picnic organised starting at noon and the carpet will be accessible to all until Monday. The carpet will then be broken down and any edible parts distributed.
The Flower Slab Project, 14-17 July, free
Started 15 years ago to celebrate Albert II's 10 years on the throne, the Bal National rapidly became a cherished institution. Taking place on the eve of the National Holiday on the iconic Place du Jeu de Balle in the heart of the Marolles, it is a corny, effusive, fun-loving, inclusive and uplifting event that encourages Brussels natives to express the quintessential Brussels humour known as Zwanze - and gives expats and visitors a unique view of the "real Brussels". Things kick off at 19.30 with Unik Party during which the Unik group teaches the crowd dance steps and then everyone on stage and off performs the choreography. Following that warm-up, various musical acts (Brusseleir, Flemish and Francophone) perform to everyone's delight and things wrap up with cover band The Magical Flying Thunderbirds towards midnight. All the cafes and restaurants on the square participate and add outdoor grilling to their menus so food and beer choices abound.
Fireworks aficionados take note: beyond the national fireworks on 21 July, the city of Brussels is offering us five more displays this summer. Called Les Feux de Laeken they will be taking place on Friday evenings between the Atomium and Palais 5 at the Heysel. The numerous activities start at 18.00 with the displays at 23.00. A jury composed of all age groups will choose the prettiest. For the opening show France will be the theme with a French village and a bal-musette. The following four events will have the themes Urban Ecology, Medieval Village, Brussels Street Fair and finally BXL Discolight.
14 and 28 July, 4, 18 and 25 August, free
The pedestrian zone in central Brussels is the site of numerous summer activities with classical music concerts (15 July and 19 August), dance classes including ballroom and concerts (29 July and 14 August), an introduction to English boxing and Thai boxing with world flyweight champion Sanae Jah (22 July), Capoeira (26 August) and chess and table tennis and more.
Until 31 August, free
The Street Heart exhibition collects more than 200 photographs snapped in the streets of Brussels and other Belgian cities by Lila Sylviti, a Greek transplant to the capital. All the works on display share one common element: a heart. It might be large or small, obvious or hidden, intentional or incidental but the universal symbol of love is there, embodying the vital energy of the city and its communities. It’s not all peace and love, though. The symbol can also be used ironically to underline the potential apathy and ugliness of urban life. Still, where there’s heart, there’s life.
Until 23 July, Brass’Art, Brussels
Once Upon a Time is a collection of miniature masterpieces currently on display at the Royal Museum of Art and History. These 175 enamelled watches from 1650 to 1850, round or flat, for pocket or belt, are the work of exceptional craftsmen. The exquisite pieces are presented in five rooms and 12 themed sections including playful scenes, pastoral and garden scenes, travel and the discovery of the world, Eastern influence, the enlightenment and the French revolution. Additionally, 20 of Belgian designer Isabelle de Borchgrave's magnificent paper dresses are also on display. The dresses are part of Paper in Fashion, her extraordinary copies in paper of period outfits reviewing 300 years of fashion history from Queen Elizabeth I to Coco Chanel. There is the possibility of a combined guided tour of the museum exhibition and de Borchgrave's studio.
Until 17 September
One of Molenbeek's hidden gems is The Château de Karreveld, a mostly 16th-century castle with 10 acres of park and woodland (including eight different species of conifers) and a large pond complete with swans, not to mention a magnificent medieval barn. Since 1999 the borough has used the peerless setting for the Bruxellons festival of theatre arts (plus dancing and magic) during the summer. Comedies, serious plays, whodunits, even an evening of American musicals are on the schedule this year. To make it a hassle-free evening one can take advantage of their dinner buffet, served indoor and out. Snacks and pastry are also available at the bar.
Until end of September
The brainchild of four friends, Coucou Brussels, in association with Visit Brussels, is a fun way to greet tourists and mix them with locals. At four emblematic locations in Brussels (Mont des Arts, Avenue Louise, Place Poelaert and the Atomium) deckchairs and tourist information centres (housed in old Belgian Army containers) welcome tourists but also locals, maybe on their lunch break, in the hopes that they will connect. Concerts and other activities are added during the weekends.
15 July-30 September
The 137th edition of the Foire du Midi, 2km of attractions between the Porte de Hal and Porte d'Anderlecht, will kick off at 15.00 on Saturdy with a two-hour very musical parade. New this year: the Outbreak, an adrenaline-pumping ride, will have its Belgian premiere. And on the culinary side, Didden, a Brussels family enterprise with four generations of sauce-makers, is producing a new sauce exclusively for the fair. The Sauce Kermesse was created by chef Pierre Wynants of Comme Chez Soi and is a mouthwatering smooth combination of piccallili and mayonnaise. Some people find piccallili too acidic but chef Wynants, by grinding the chunks and adapting the herbs and spices has created something softer but still very tasty.
15 July-20 August, 15.00-01.00 (02.00 at weekends)
The urban pedagogical farm in Maximilian Park with its horses, alpacas, ponies, donkeys, goats, sheep, rabbits, chickens, peacocks, geese, ducks and more is holding four-day summer workshops for children with an accent on good ecological practices.
17-20 July, 7-11 August, 14-18 August and 21-25 August, €90 per child (€80 for sibling)
Intimate Brussels world music venue Art Base hosts Pakistani maestro Asad Qizilbash, who crosses South Asia’s cultural divide by performing Hindustani raga on the traditional sarode. Carlo Strazzante accompanies on the Indian tabla and the African udu.
14 July, 20.00, Art Base, Rue des Sables 29, Brussels
iMAL (interactive Media Art Laboratory) is a non-profit created in Brussels in 1999, with the aim of supporting artistic forms and creative practices using computer and network technologies as their medium. In 2007, iMAL opened a Centre for Digital Cultures and Technology in Molenbeek along the canal, directly across from the Dansaert district, a space entirely dedicated to contemporary artistic and cultural practices emerging from the fusion of computer, telecommunication, network and media. Currently they are showing Children's Tales? which maps the various narratives that shape a young person’s consciousness and perception from childhood to late adolescence in various parts of the world. The nine video works by seven artists in six countries (Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Hungary and India) cover six types of video art: computer animation, cartoon, documentary, fiction, photo projections and video installation.
18 July-1 September