Tag Archives: Europe

Balloon’s Day Parade, Tintin Rally to end Brussels’ summer on a high note

Balloon’s Day Parade

As it does each year, the month of September in Brussels will start with a bang as the 8th annual Brussels Comic Strip Festival gets under way. To mark the occasion, the European capital’s streets will be cheerfully decked out in the thousand and one colours of the “Balloon’s Day Parade.” At the same time, the Tintin Magazine Rally will bring its share of activities and new attractions to make this latest edition a real party.

Everybody loves Tintin

New happenings this year

  • A Gaston balloon will appear at the Brussels Comic Strip Festival to celebrate his 60th birthday
  • The Ducobu balloon will also make its parade debut this year.
  • This year the Comic Strip Rally will specially feature cars ripped right from the pages of the Tintin and Spirou magazines.
  • Instead of the customary single kick-off, there will be four starts this coming Sunday, 3 September.
Comics have no age bar

Since its debut in 2010, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become the main event for comics fans. Young and old, novices and experts, all share a passion for the ninth art and come together each year to participate in the variety of activities on offer.

Great occasion for kids to learn
Children get to have first hand experience of drawing cartoons

On Sunday, 3 September, comics fans will eat, sleep, and breathe Belgian comics thanks to the seamless combination of the “Balloon’s Day Parade” and the Tintin Magazine Rally. The parade of giant comics character balloons will invade the capital early in the afternoon. Next, the forerunners of the Tintin Magazine Rally will reach the capital, ending their journey on Place des Palais.

Writers are there to sign the books
Artists are there to give some lessons in sketching
There is art of sculpture of cartoon characters
And cartoon characters themselves in live
There are games to play, from angry birds…
…to simpsons on play machines
There is everything from billboards…
… to food stalls, loved by everyone!

Balloon’s Day Parade

Once again this year, the “Balloon’s Day Parade,” will roll through the streets for nearly two hours. This time two new balloons, Docobu and Gaston, will be delighted to take part in the procession. The spectacular balloon inflation will begin in the morning on Place des Palais.

Parade of the balloons
a big pomp and show!

Over the course of the afternoon, Spirou, Tintin, Le Chat, Boule, Blork de Kid Paddle, Lucky Luke, and their new friends will begin their annual promenade and take over Brussels’ main arteries. During this latest edition, schools (circus, music, sport, etc.) from all over Belgium will be in charge of the parade.

Tintin Magazine Rally

All the Tintin’s cars!

Since its first running in 2013, the Tintin Magazine Rally has become an essential event at the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. This year the rally will take place once again and Tintin Magazine will host Spirou Magazine. In all, about 100 collectors’ cars will participate. In another significant new development, the event will start at four different locations: Lier, Verviers, Jumet, and Anderlecht.

Cars on the stroll!

On Sunday, 3 September, period cars that have appeared in Tintin Magazine and Spirou Magazine since 1946 will lead the way. At about 2 PM, after completing a nearly 100 kilometre course, these legendary cars will arrive on Place des Palais. It’s a wonderful opportunity to immerse in the comics of yesteryear and rediscover these rare gems.

with all the characters!

Two people per car will be invited to dress up and join the rally and take part in a meal among fans. At the end of the rally, a panel will award prizes to the teams and cars that were the most faithful to the two magazines’ original illustrations.

…also top of the class designs!

So if you are fascinated with anything related to comics and cartoons or want to give your cartoon loving kids a treat, than plan a trip to Brussels this September.

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Wanna Beered up! Brussels coming up with many festivals!!

If you would have thought that Oktoberfest was the only thing corresponding to a beer festival in Europe and Bavaria was the only place to get best chilled beer on this planet than think again. Here is some quick fact checking- In 2016 UNESCO recognised the important role played by beer culture in Belgian everyday life and celebrations by proclaiming it an intangible cultural heritage. Throughout the year, Brussels residents and visitors can come and discover this delicious heritage during one of Brussels’ many beer festivals. And in these festivals, you will not only be served amazing Belgian beer but also the best beers other countries in world have to offer.

So, here are some of the festivals celebrating Belgian Beer that will take place in coming months this year:

BXLBeerFest – The Crossroads of Beers and Friends: 26-27 August 2017

BXLBeerFest brings a number of independent, artisanal brewers closer to the guests. The selection of Brussels breweries will be supplemented by some of the best that Belgium and other countries have to offer, with 50 breweries from ten different nations presenting over 200 beers to the public. BXLBeerFest also pays attention to the culinary aspect, with food trucks and an actual on-site restaurant led by chef Dirk Myny of Les Brigittines.

Belgian Beer Weekend 2016, Belgian Brewers

Belgian Beer Weekend: 1-3 September 2017

From Friday 1 to Sunday 3 September 2017, the “Ridderschap van de Roerstok der Brouwers” and the Belgian Breweries, in cooperation with the City of Brussels and the Brussels-Capital Region, present the 19th edition of the Belgian Beer Weekend. This year the Grote Markt (Grand-Place) in Brussels will serve as a unique backdrop for this event, which has been dedicated entirely to Belgium’s national beverage.

Belgian Beer Weekend 2016, Belgian Brewers

This will allow 60,000 beer lovers to partake of fine Belgian beers in one of the most beautiful squares in the world (UNESCO World Heritage). Throughout the weekend, numerous small, mid-sized and large Belgian breweries will have a large selection of their products on offer. Here, one can discover the various types of beers that give this country its well-deserved reputation.

Belgian Beer Weekend 2016, Belgian Brewers

International Craft Festival: 20-21 October 2017

The Brussels Beer Project brewery will hold the 2nd edition of the International Craft Festival on 20 and 21 October. This festival will bring together ten artisanal breweries from Europe, the United States and Asia in a festive atmosphere at an exclusive secret location.

Read More: Getting Tipsy in Belgium

Vini Birre Ribelli. Salon of rebellious wines and beers: 25-26 November 2017

Just like with the previous editions, this salon is once again all about artisanal, sustainable, organic and – whenever possible – natural products. Though the emphasis is on wine, the alternative side of beer brewing is also represented. Bringing these two worlds together offers a unique perspective. Also noteworthy: Vini Birre Rebelli is Belgium’s first salon bearing the label ‘zero waste’.

Being Indian? Looking form some desi spirits! Read: Getting ‘high’ on hills!

I would also like to mention that even without any festival, Belgium in general and Brussels specifically has one of some historical breweries worth visit and some exclusive beer bars and cafe with beer collection which you won’t find anywhere else on earth. So if not to Oktoberfest, than now perhaps you know where to head for that exclusive beer fest this year. You have the time… go and plan it!

Time for some wine & food indulgence!

Immediately after the Comic Strip Festival at start of September, European Capital Brussels will get ready for another extravaganza, this time for the connoisseurs of food and wine. From 7 to 10 September this year, Brussels Park will once again serve as the setting for the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux festival. Twenty Brussels chefs will slave over their stoves to share their signature dishes with the public. Fifty Bordeaux wine growers and sellers will also be on hand to provide the accompaniment for these delicious foods. They will offer the optimal wine pairings to complement the chefs’ dishes. There’s sure to be plenty to delight the senses of their foodie visitors! For its sixth edition, the eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux Festival has once again invited a selection of Brussels’ best chefs to the heart of Brussels Park. There will be new workshops: Wine & patisseries; Wine and chocolate.

Also Read: Comic Strip festival gets bigger, bolder and rewarding too!

Photo: VisitBrussels/ ©E.Danhier

A sixth edition with its fair share of new offerings

  • Restaurant offerings are expanding. Several chefs on the Brussels scene are joining in the fun to present their iconic dishes to the public.
  • A central “square” will be set up right at the heart of the festival grounds. It’s a chance for visitors to partake and socialize with family and friends.
  • This year, the eat! Awards are making their debut. These prizes will be awarded to chefs whose dishes enjoy the greatest success over the course of the event.
  • In this latest edition, several pastry chefs will complement the event menu with dessert plate suggestions.
  • The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux invites amateurs to discover new wine workshops that focus on patisserie and chocolate.
  • The Tchin Vittel! space will offer cooking workshops to visitors. Accompanied by talented chef Bruno Antoine, they will concoct their “bistronomy” box together, which they will then be able to savour in this friendly atmosphere.

Also Read: Getting tipsy in Belgium

New iconic Brussels chefs are joining the party and enhancing the festival’s offerings. The will offer visitors a signature dish representing their culinary identity at the special price of € 9. Several pastry chefs will also enhance the festival’s menu. They will offer sweets aficionados delicious desserts by the plate at the special price of €9.

The perfect pairing

Vins de Bordeaux, the festival’s essential partners, are coming together once again on this journey through fine cuisine. For the occasion, nearly 50 Bordeaux wine growers and merchants will meet in Brussels to reveal the history and secrets of their wine.

These elegant and unique wines, the fruits of the meticulous blending of several grape varieties, will thrill the public’s taste buds. It’s a singular chance to discover the new Bordeaux reds, fresh and fruity, the dry whites, the rosés, the clairets and the sweet wines that can be paired with all cuisine, whether simple or refined. A wine pairing carefully selected for the occasion will also be offered for each dish, sweet or savoury, presented at the festival.

eat Brussels

The Bordeaux pavilion, the Belgian selection

For the second year running, the pavilion will present the 2017 selection of Bordeaux wines chosen by a panel of Belgian wine and gastronomy professionals. These wines, selling for €4 to €25 are all available in Belgium. eat! Brussels, drink! Bordeaux will be the only opportunity to sample the sumptuousness of this 2017 selection.

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux pavilion

The Ecole du Vin de Bordeaux will once again be on hand to conduct a variety of workshops for Wine Pass holders. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the public, expert or novice, to (re)discover Bordeaux wines in an original, fun way and participate in tastings.

Comic Strip Festival gets bigger, bolder and rewarding too!

The Annual feature for the comic lovers of the world is here again. If you love comics, than you have enough time to plan for this once in a lifetime trip to the European Capital as Brussels is holding its 8th annual Comic Strip Festival from 1st to 3 September 2017. From their beginning at the turn of the century, Belgian comics have really become famous the world over. Many illustrators and writers from our country and its capital are well-known beyond its borders. That is reason enough to dedicate a weekend to this rich cultural heritage.

Bande Dessinée Mur BD Stripmuur Le jeune Albert (c) Olivier van de Kerchove

For its 8th running, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival is marking the occasion with its fair share of new things. Beyond the traditional Balloon’s Day Parade, conferences, and autographs, the event will literally expand its scope. The festival will award Europe’s biggest prizes, offer premiere film and manga screenings, madcap performances, and many other original activities.

Fete de la Bd – Stripfeest (c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

Since its debut in 2010, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become the main event for comics fans. Young and old, novices and experts, all share a passion for the ninth art and come together each year to participate in the variety of activities on offer. More than 100,000 people and some 250 famous authors gather every year. For this 2017 edition, the essential events are definitely on the schedule: autograph sessions, the predecessors of the great Oldtimer Rally, the Balloon’s Day Parade and many more. There’s a whole range of activities to delight everyone.

© visit.brussels – Eric Danhier – 2017

Festival also gets a new prestigious location. Besides the Parc de Bruxelles, le Brussels Comic Strip Festival will take over the prestigious setting of Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts, BOZAR. Two new places that pair phenomenally well together for the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. Festival-goers will be able to stroll along as they please, enjoying countless activities and novelties on offer wherever they go. From hundreds of autograph signings to premiere cartoon screenings and multiple exhibitions and encounters with professionals, ninth art fans will have plenty to keep them entertained. For the first time in its history and thanks to its new set-up at Bozar, the Brussels Comic Strip Festival will also be able to offer premiere film screenings!

Fete de la BD – Stripfeest

Comic strip writing has become something of an endangered activity in these last few years, with the industry’s professionals often finding it hard to make a living from it. As the organisers of the Comic Strip Festival, visit.brussels has been working in close collaboration with the Brussels-Capital Region in a bid to show its support for the creative process and bring existing initiatives together by launching a series of awards, most of which will be in cash and will allow the winners to fund their work. Offering €100,000 in prize money, a total of seven awards have already been confirmed, with several more in line to be added to the list between now and September.

Jean-David Morvan

Brussels Comic Strip Festival will award some brand new comics prizes for the first time: The Atomium Prizes, during a gala evening when no less than €100,000 will be awarded for the best new works from the past year. French comics writer, Jean-David is the sponsor of the Atomium Prizes. Jean-David Morvan will be on hand at his exhibition throughout the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. There he will discuss his work and welcome his main contributors to his couch. His contributors will come and show him (as well as the audience) their new panels, answer questions, improvise autograph sessions and other original performances.

This year the Brussels Comic Strip Festival is also celebrating good old Gaston’s 60th birthday. To mark the occasion, the Spirou Festival is inviting the famous, sixty-year-old lazybones to the Brussels Comic Strip Festival. An exhibition, a musical performance, conferences – it will be impossible to miss this perennial blunderer.

Over these three days, the European capital will eat, sleep, and breathe comics. A little train will travel around town and stop at the essential Ninth Art destinations around Brussels (Comics Art Museum, the MOOF, murals, book stores, etc.), free guided tours will bring visitors to see comics murals, many organisations from the Brussels-Capital Region will offer activities and discounts related to the Ninth Art. In short, from 1-3 September 2017, comics will be on the menu just about everywhere!

The Brussels Comic Strip Festival has become more international over the last two years. As part of the MIXITY.2017 year and in keeping with the diverse nationalities that call Brussels home, the booths and activities on offer are multi-cultural and multi-lingual. Languages will be well represented: in addition to the three national languages, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and even Korean will be heard. Clear information available in several languages will be included in the Brussels Comic Strip Festival programme. The Brussels Comic Strip Festival is a Brussels-Capital Region initiative with the support of the City of Brussels and the COCOF, coordinated by visit.brussels.

Eroticism in comics

The 2017 Brussels Comic Strip Festival is taking advantage of its new setting to offer a number of comics-themed exhibitions. Numerous exhibitions will be held there, allowing visitors to explore certain iconic realms of the 9th Art. There will even be an exhibition devoted to eroticism in comics behind closed doors.

Young tourists look for kicks other than waffles

Well, these are maps which are as good as any tourist guide but actually they are so good that they are also souvenir in themselves. That means, when you are visiting a city then in search of a good souvenir, you first get a souvenir in form of a map. And these are no normal maps. These maps are now turning 10. USE-IT, the tourist info for young people, will soon celebrate its first ten years in European capital Brussels. They’re a household name for city maps made by young locals, with no-nonsense tips for how not to be caught as a tourist in Belgium. (Nope, we don’t have fruit on our waffles.)

These maps are starting to conquer Europe, and the research team Expeditions has measured the impact on tourism in the entire network. Does alternative city info really make people move outside of the city centre? Do they stay longer? And what does this imply for the local economy? The results were very positive, and Brussels stands out. 59% of users say they went further from the centre indeed. Desk personnel at hostels and the tourist infos confirm. 86% think also that off-the-beaten track information boosts the investment in the local economy. Furthermore, 14% of the young tourists extended their stay with one or more nights, and nearly everybody (97%) would like to get the same kind of no-nonsense info on their next city trips.

When asked about their best experience in Brussels, the maps’ local tips are mentioned more often than the tourist classics. Highlights include the panorama on top of Parking 58, the vegetable garden on top of the Albertina library, a walk through Molenbeek, going out at Bonnefooi until the morning, and pissing in the public urinal that’s built against Sint-Katelijne church.

The survey ran in the entire European USE-IT network (more than 40 cities) and Brussels came out on top. Of the 4,000 respondents, one out of three had already used the Brussels map. Strikingly, a large number of them (38%) was also motivated to start up a USE-IT map for their own city.

ALSO READ: Travelling to Where Locals Go

“The creative side of Brussels speaks to many tourists’ hearts, and USE-IT embodies that side well. As Alderman for Tourism it’s important that we support young innovative teams. So we’re proud that these city maps have spread out all over Europe from Brussels,” says Philippe Close, the Alderman of Tourism in Brussels.

The USE-IT headquarters is stationed in the Galerie Ravenstein, where it attracts more than 20,000 travellers per year. Apart from all the European free maps, visitors also get tips about nightlife there from the young Brussels volunteers, or they head out together for a walk along the Anderlecht supporters’ bars or the latest genital graffiti in town. Anything but the Manneken Pis.

Want to have local food while on travel! TTC partners VizEat!

Want to have some authentically local food while travelling abroad, but are afraid of what hotels serve in name of local dishes? Also, you might be interested in having local food in authentically local environments such as homes, but don’t know how to in a new city! Here is a brand new initiative.

The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) award-winning family of brands including Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Contiki, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, Busabout and Evans Evans partnered globally with VizEat, the innovative and immersive food experience platform, bringing travellers together by offering immersive culinary experiences with their 22,000 local hosts in 110 countries. In 2014, the app was first launched in Paris and it has now become the world’s most popular meal sharing platform with guests being welcomed into a global network of hosts’ homes while making authentic connections with both locals and travellers.

TTC’s travel brands will be able to connect their guests to these VizEat hosts who are trained chefs and home cooks where they will share their delicious meals and learn about new cultures with other travellers  and foodies from across the globe. They will sample regional specialties and traditional cuisine in unique locations with a relaxed ambience. Travelers can enjoy a pasta making class in Rome, embark on an interactive market tour in Barcelona, indulge in a wine and cheese tasting party in Paris or join a Tuscan chef’s table and sample gastronomic delicacies.

“Our partnership with VizEat will enable our guests from across our 30+ TTC travel brands to discover amazing and fun culinary experiences in each destination which we visit while also interacting with the local people and creating unforgettable memories,” said Brett Tollman, Chief Executive Officer of The Travel Corporation. “We also share similar values by offering experiential experiences and meeting like-minded travellers from around the world.”

Beginning this summer, TTC’s guests will have an opportunity to enjoy these immersive food experiences on selected trips or as optional experiences through the assistance of their knowledgeable Travel Directors and Tour Managers.

“We’re thrilled to announce this global partnership with TTC and this marks a great opportunity for more travellers worldwide the chance to uncover immersive culinary experiences with locals wherever they go,” said Jean-Michel Petit, Chief Executive Officer of VizEat. “It’s a great match for both of us: TTC family of brands plans the most memorable experiences for their clients and VizEat is aligned in this search for unforgettable and authentic moments.”

The Travel Corporation (TTC) is a highly successful international travel group. No matter what your taste, whether you are a family or a couple, a group or traveling solo – TTC offers something for everyone. Its multi-award-winning portfolio ranges from luxury hotels and boutique river cruises, to independent holiday package companies and a variety of guided travel experiences.

Created as a joint initiative between The Travel Corporation’s (TTC) family of brands, the TreadRight Foundation is a not-for-profit that works to help ensure the environment and communities we visit remain for generations to come. Founded by Brett Tollman, Chief Executive Officer, TTC, to date TreadRight has supported more than 40 sustainable tourism projects worldwide. As an official Diamond Sponsor of the UN International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, TTC is dedicated to bringing the industry together with a shared goal of benefitting local communities and the environment.

VizEat website and apps are now available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese. Anyone can sign up to become either a host or a guest. The mobile apps for VizEat are available for download for iOS and Android. Apple selected VizEat in the TOP 3 Apps of 2016 and  CEO Tim Cook went for a VizEat lunch in Paris early February.

Pop-up & Disappear – First look into Epic Retreats

The first images of Epic Retreats – Wales’ first pop-up boutique hotel – have been revealed and there’s still time to book to become one of the fortunate 200 guests to enjoy the unique, exclusive experience. The eight cabins, which are the focus of a new Channel 4 documentary ‘Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge’, are all inspired by Welsh legends and will welcome their first guests on June 5.

(I have told you earlier about this. You can read here about ‘Disappearing Hotels of Wales‘.)

Epic Retreats will visit two locations across Wales this summer; Southern Snowdonia from June 5- June 30 and the Llŷn Peninsula from July 10 until September 11. Mid-week guests will also enjoy epic experiences tailored to each location, including private chefs, Welsh music and theatre performances.

Fewer than 200 bookings have been made available for the experience and inspiration for the units includes the legend of King Arthur, the iconic Welsh dragon and the country’s famous industrial heritage. Each boutique cabin includes a double, king size or circular bed, living area with wood burner and hob and en-suite facilities.

(Want to read more about Arthur’s Cave? Click to read about King Arthur Trail.)

All are winning designs, purpose-built for the Epic Retreats project, and chosen through a competitive tender, supported by Visit Wales, which invited architects from across the world to design unique glamping units themed on the mythology, tradition and beauty of Wales. In addition to the eight cabins the ‘hotel’ will also feature a communal area including a fridge for food storage, on-site BBQ and eating area. On arrival guests are provided with a welcome pack containing some of the best produce Wales has to offer, as well as bed linen, hand and bath towels and logs for the wood-burner.

Launched in celebration of Wales’s Year of Legends, Epic Retreats promises to immerse visitors in the most impressive landscapes and adventures the country has to offer. Co-founder of Epic Retreats, Llion Pughe said, “We are excited to finally reveal the eight cabins that make up Epic Retreats. “The unique cabins, complemented by our country’s stunning landscape, make for an unbeatable experience and we look forward to welcoming our first guests this summer who will get to see Wales in a completely unique setting.”

The Epic Retreats project is a partnership between Best of Wales, Cambria Tours and George + Tomos Architects and is part funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund. Ken Skates, Cabinet Secretary for Economy and Infrastructure, said: “Epic Retreats and the unique glamping pods, which all have their own story to tell,  will allow people the chance to experience Wales like never before.

“From art hotels and castles to trendy hostels and boutique B&Bs, Wales offers a wide array of varied and exciting accommodation choices.  The addition of our first pop-up glamping accommodation creates additional potential to attract visitors from far and wide to experience our amazing landscape and heritage during our Year of Legends 2017.”