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What's on this week: 8-14 September
Brussels celebrates the applied arts with a month-long showcase of established and up-and-coming talent. The highlight of the design season in Belgium, Design September’s programme promises more than 100 design-related activities, from exhibitions to lectures to pop-up stores to parties. Special guests include Limburg design luminary Pieter Stockmans and young Eindhoven-based Spanish designer Nacho Carbonell. The popular Arts and Crafts tour highlights the capital’s artisan jewellers. Over 20 jewellery workshops open their doors to visitors while the Hotel Be Manos hosts a jewellery exhibition. The Commerce Design Award recognises cutting-edge architecture and interior design in local businesses. Read more about the festival here…
7-30 September, across Brussels
Each annual edition of the Marni Jazz Festival puts a different instrument in the spotlight. This year is all about drums, with six evenings of percussion-oriented concerts. Opening night sees the premiere of the Rêve d’Eléphant Orchestra’s latest work REO Percussions, a tribal drum blowout composed just for Marni. Other festival premieres include jazz veteran Stéphane Galland’s new world-music outfit The Mystery of Kem and rising young drummer Antoine Pierre’s latest project NextApe. Marni Jazz also boasts a swinging exhibition of jazz-inspired drawings by illustrator Serge Dehaes.
7-16 September, Marni Theatre, Brussels
What you may remember as Brussels Art Days has become Brussels Gallery Weekend. This 10th edition includes 41 galleries and a dozen institutions and artists’ spaces. The essence of the weekend is contemporary art but there are also modern art, African art, design, ceramics and jewellery galleries. To travel between venues there will be shuttle busses and chauffeur-driven cars sponsored by Volvo and Belgium Service Voiturier.
7-10 September, across Brussels
Also this weekend is another contemporary art show: Art on Paper at Bozar. In this case, 20 Belgian and international galleries have each provided a solo show. Be they figurative, abstract, monumental, minimalist, shimmering, discrete, performing or narrative, the focus is on drawing.
Wiels Art Book Fair features more than 50 artists, publishers and collectors offering their photo books, catalogues, periodicals and other artsy printed matter for sale. Also lectures and other activities.
8-10 September, Wiels, Avenue Van Volxem 354, Brussels
The culinary festival Eat! Brussels Drink! Bordeaux is back in the park across from the Royal Palace. Winemakers from France’s Bordeaux region will be on hand to promote their wares. Top Brussels chefs will be serving up gastronomic treats. This year the international food partners are from Morocco (Rabat), Canada (Québec), China (Beijing and Szechuan), Germany (Berlin), Ukraine (Kiev), Slovenia (Ljubljana), Poland (Mazovia) and Bulgaria (Sofia). And just as exotic, the Brussels Region has brought together two Brussels food businesses, a family run chocolate company and an urban cricket farm to present a live cooking show that combines the two foods for your daring delectation. There will also be master classes offered by the Bordeaux School of Wine including two new workshops on chocolate and pastry wine pairing. Or you can taste six Saint Emilion wines during a masterclass celebrating this wine, the first wine area listed as a Unesco world heritage site.
7-10 September 12.00-23.00, Royal Park, Brussels; free entry
Choose a five- or 10-mile course for the XL fun run in the heart of Brussels. The route starts and ends near the European Parliament and circles the scenic ponds of Ixelles. There’s also a one-mile run for kids aged four to 12. Register online or on site.
10 September 9.00-13.00, Esplanade Solidarnosc 1980, Brussels; €8-€20
Paul Hamesse, who studied under Art Nouveau pioneer Paul Hankar, was one of the most prolific architects of his time. Most of what he designed was in the Geometric Art Nouveau style which, in a way, was a bridge between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. In the architecture firm he shared with his two brothers he designed buildings for 40 years - shops, villas, townhouses, apartment buildings, artists' studios and movie theatres, many of which are still standing today. On Friday, the Halles Saint-Géry are opening the show Paul & His Brothers which is aimed at a family audience and at aficionados of Geometric Art Nouveau.
Free, until 22 November, guided tours available
Charles Baudelaire spent the last two years of his life in Brussels giving lectures. He exiled himself to Belgium to make money and be recognised as a major talent, a recognition that had escaped him in Paris. Brussels wasn’t any more enthusiastic and he took out his frustration on the city and its inhabitants in a book entitled Pauvre Belgique which he never finished. “There are females here, no women," he wrote. "They’re all washed out blondes, with bulging faded blue sheep’s eyes... They insult you if you offer them a posey and the children are horribly ugly... There’s always excrement and vomitous, pissing dogs... Small town, small minds, small hearts...The beer comes out of a latrine called the Senne...” The Museum of the City of Brussels on the Grand-Place opens a show this weekend on this period in Brussels with Baudelaire as guide entitled BaudelaireXBrussels. Using his screed as a basis, the exhibition give us a fascinating view of mid 19th-century Brussels and the great changes going on at that time. A newly rediscovered painting of the construction of the Avenue Louise is quite extraordinary in its contrast to the area as we know it now. And on Sundays there's the possibility of an urban circuit: In Charles Baudelaire’s Footsteps.
Until 11 March 2018, museum entrance free if you live in Brussels-City
René Pechère was one of the most celebrated landscape architects in the 20th century and his work is visible in many parts of Brussels. The Bibliothèque René Pechère started an open gardens day in 2008. Last year the event was taken over by CIVA and this Sunday is the 10th edition. Brussels is 50% open space and two-thirds of that is private gardens, so this is a marvellous way to discover some of those gardens as well as some public open spaces. For instance, did you know that there is a house close by the Fishmarket in the centre of town that has a garden complete with a small orchard? 40 sites are open and the visits are free but you must register. Even if you don’t participate, the beautiful and informative programme which is free and available at Saint-Géry, the BIP and CIVA is worth having.
On Saturday, it's the Taptoe Brussels tattoo, a spectacle of marching and brass bands from around the world, all performing on the Grand-Place. This is a great opportunity to see the wide variety of marching bands that exist.
Saturday 14.00-22.00, Sunday 10.00-22.00
If you missed the Brussels Tomato Festival, here’s a last chance to stock up on delicious heirloom tomatoes and vegetables before the end of the season and discover French Flanders, that little piece of northern France where most of the villages and towns have Flemish names and quite a few of the people still speak West Vlaams. The town of Haverskerque is holding its 12th edition of the Fête de la Tomate et des Légumes Anciens. If you’ve never tasted any of these old varieties you’re in for a major treat. Five acres of vegetable stands indoor and out await you.