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eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX goes for big innovations in seventh year

On 6, 7, 8 and 9 September this year, the eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX festival will once again take over Brussels Park. The public will be able to go there to discover the signature dishes of about twenty Brussels chefs. To achieve the perfect balance and introduce new combinations, some fifty Bordeaux wine growers and wine merchants will be offering a wide range of wines that illustrate the simplicity, diversity, quality and accessibility of Bordeaux wines. A wonderful opportunity for Brussels residents and visitors to treat themselves to a delightful moment of relaxation and conviviality.

eat Brussels

The eat ! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX festival has again called on the best Brussels chefs. The seventh festival is full of innovations:

• A wider variety of restaurants. Several new chefs who have emerged from the Brussels scene will take part in the adventure to introduce the public to their emblematic dishes.

• For this year’s festival, a cheese bar and a dessert counter will be introduced to round off the chefs’ offerings. Every day, the cream of our cheese makers and pastry chefs will take turns introducing visitors to new flavours.

• This year, the Bordeaux Wine School is breaking new ground with the “secret gaming table”. The game is modelled on black jack and the participants are invited to bet on the characteristics of the wine in a blind tasting. The age of the wine, its flavours, its “appellation d’origine contrôlée”, etc. The bets are open and good humour guaranteed.

eat Brussels

Twenty-odd Brussels chefs

New chefs representative of Brussels are joining the celebration and will be enriching the festival’s offering. They will each be presenting visitors with a signature dish that symbolises their culinary identity, costing just 9 euros!

The unmissable TCHIN VITTEL zone

The TCHIN VITTEL zone offers visitors cooking workshops throughout the festival. In the company of the talented bistronomy chef Bruno Antoine, they will concoct their bistronomy box, which they will then be able to enjoy in a friendly atmosphere.

eat Brussels

Innovations

Dessert counter

Several great pastry chefs will take turns every day to complete the festival menu. They will be offering sweets lovers delicious dessert selections at the set price of 9 euros. Bordeaux wine growers and wine merchants will be glad to recommend you a wine that makes a perfect match for your dessert dish.

The chefs:

Nikolas Koulepis – Pâtisserie Nicolas Koulepis Anaïs Gaudemer – Cokoa Loic Henon & Joaquim Braz de Oliveira – Forcado Yasushi Sasaki – Pâtisserie Sasaki

Cheese bar

There is nothing like tasting a selection of cheeses accompanied by an excellent Bordeaux wine. Why not have a sweet wine with a blue cheese? This year, eat! BRUSSELS, drink! BORDEAUX is offering you the chance to meet several great Brussels cheese makers. They will introduce you to new flavours with their original selection.

The cheese makers:

Julien Hazard – Julien Hazard Affineur Véronique Socié – La Fruitière

Hélène Milan – Le Comptoir du Samson Octave Laloux – Saint Octave

Simply Bordeaux

eat Brussels

The Wines of Bordeaux, a key partner in the festival, are once again taking part in this gastronomical journey. The festival is a unique opportunity to discover the merits of the wines of Bordeaux and to meet nearly 50 Bordeaux wine growers and wine merchants who will share their passion in a congenial and relaxed way. These men and women who make the wines of Bordeaux will tell you their stories and share their anecdotes. These easy-to-drink, accessible wines, the result of the meticulous blending of several grape varieties, will thrill people’s taste buds. A unique opportunity to discover the new, fresh and fruity Bordeaux reds, the dry white wines, the rosés, clairets and sweets wines which make wonderful apéritifs and go well with all styles of cooking. Wine pairings devised for the occasion will also be offered for the chefs’ dishes, the desserts and the cheese boards presented at the festival.

The Bordeaux Wine School workshops

(c)VISITBRUSSELS -E.Danhier

The Bordeaux Wine School tent offers a straightforward and entertaining overview, so that you no longer mix up Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, can match food with wine or even, quite simply, put your sensations into words. This year in addition the “secret gaming table”, festival goers will be able to explore new workshops on the subject of wine and gastronomy. The Wine School is joining forces with the chefs attending the festival to present unexpected wine pairings. The mouth-watering Choco’Bordeaux will thrill gourmets’ taste buds… All the workshops will be accessible with the WINE PASS.

The Bordeaux “Master classes”: another way of exploring the wines of Bordeaux Comfortably installed in the very beautiful Salle des Guichets of the BIP Building, novices and well-informed amateurs are guided through the estates and regions of the Bordeaux grands crus. 4 master classes will enable you to explore a Bordeaux wine family in more depth:

  • Sweet Bordeaux Master Class: a master class on the original pairing of sweet white Bordeaux wines with Belgian cheeses
  • Crus Classés de Graves Master Class: the Crus Classés de Graves will be presented in Brussels for the first time. The 2014 vintage will take pride of place
  • Master Class on the great wines of the Médoc: the Conseil des vins du Médoc [Wine Council of the Médoc] will introduce 6 “appellations” by way of 4 different vintages (2005, 2011, 2012 and 2015)
  • Grands Crus Classés de Saint-Emilion Master Class: a stroll through the prestigious Grands Crus Classés of Saint-Emilion
eat Brussels

Enjoy cashless!

BORDEAUX has switched to a cashless payment system. Visitors can obtain their swipe cards from one of the ticket offices, put money on them and use them as they please throughout the festival. This swipe card picks up your credit and/or Wine Pass. To pay for your drinks, simply place your swipe card on the cashless terminal and payment for the credits or tastings is automatically deducted. The chosen formula is simple. One credit is worth 1 euro.

eat Brussels

The dishes

All the chefs offer their signature dishes, their desserts and their cheese boards at a single price of 9 credits (i.e. €9). The credits are valid all over the festival site for buying dishes, soft drinks, beers and/or coffees.

Bordeaux wines:

Bordeaux wines can be discovered through a tasting route. Visitors must acquire a Wine Pass for this purpose (charged to their magnetic card). This Wine Pass is available on presale until 30 June at the price of 15 euros. The price will then change to 16 euros (€20 at the door) and includes, among other things, no fewer than 10 tastings (7 “Tent” tastings + 3 tastings of your choice), one Wine School workshop, one Omer beer tasting and one Vittel water. A great way to discover the wealth and subtlety of the wines of Bordeaux.

Have you have enjoyed Bordeaux wines? How was your experience? Please share with us in the comments section below.

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When an illuminated castle brightens the summer at Heidelberg


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High above the German city of Heidelberg realms world’s most popular ruin. Is there any place more beautiful in this world than between the historic walls of the castle beneath the shining stars during a warm summer night? For sure, there is! Just this place, but filled with music and dramatic or funny works of literature. Every year this castle is the site for two of most dramatic events- the Castle Festival and the Castle Illuminations.

Illuminated castle.

The legendary Castle Illuminations every year capture the imagination of thousands of people – hardly any other city offers such magical nights every year. Castle illuminations commemorate the destruction of Heidelberg Castle by the French General Melac in the years 1689 and 1693 during the War of Palatinate Succession. Its origin however was of a romantic nature. In order to welcome his freshly-betrothed bride Elizabeth Stuart as custom demanded, Elector Frederick V (1596-1632) ordained great fireworks, thereby instituting a tradition which has endured to the present day. The illumination of the beautiful facade of the Castle is complemented today by a brilliant fireworks display, which bathes all the Old Town in an awe-inspiring light. One can also enjoy the spectacle from the water on a fireworks boat trip. This years the first of the illumination was on June 2nd. But you have two more chances to witness this on July 14th and September 1st, 2018.

Bengali Flares. Photo credit: Jan Becke

Bengali flares slowly bathe the Heidelberg Castle in a mysterious red firelight, as if the ruins were on fire once again in their long history. As the last times in 1689 and 1693, when the troops of the Sun King Louis XIV burnt down the castle, leaving behind the world-famous ruins. When the glowing Castle slowly dies down, the second part of the spectacle begins – the brilliant fireworks over the Neckar. 

Illuminated castle. Photo credit: Tobias Schwerdt

The Elector Friedrich V first had the fireworks staged in 1613, in order to provide a fitting welcome for his newly-betrothed wife Elizabeth Stuart. These fireworks laid the cornerstone for the later festivals of light held in the night sky over Heidelberg – celebrating its 400th Jubilee in the year 2013. The banks of the Neckar and the Philosophers’ Walk around 10 o’clock are the best locations to admire the Castle Illuminations.

Fireworks at Heidelberg. Photo credit: Robin Schimko

Heidelberger Schlossfestspiele or the Castle Festival has already started on 7th June and it will run upto 29th July. Come, visit this summer festival, and experience theatre and music art in the most beautiful way: having a view over Heidelberg. And, so great is the aura and the settings, that I am sure, you will feel it as an experience of lifetime.

Fireworks in Heidelberg. View from Nepomuk Terrasse.

This year’s performances include the famous Germans story of the young orphaned girl Heidi who joins her grandfather’s house up the mountain in the Suisse Alps. It will be presented as a play for children (6 years and older) and their families. A fascinating story about friendship and the warm and charming personality of a child.

Fireworks in Heidelberg. View from Philosopher’s walk.

Besides, “If I Were a Rich Man” is what imagines the milkman Tevye in the musical Anatevka. Would he stay in Heidelberg forever if he were rich? Maybe. The popular musical will be presented in German language. The public can expect Russian and Jewish melodies within the beautiful setting of the historic walls.

Castle festival.

A further highlight of this year’s program, also in the big yard, are Carlo Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters, directed by theatre director Holger Schultze. A servant hires in two positions at a time and is facing a lot of trouble. How is solves this pell-mell in the end can be seen this summer in Heidelberg. Moreover, the philharmonic orchestra will present exclusive concerts with international top-class artists and young upcoming stars.

Theatre performance during castle festival.

Heidelberg is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. The picturesque ensemble of the castle, the Old Town, and the river Neckar surrounded by hills, which inspired the poets and artists of romanticism, still fascinates millions of visitors from all over the world. First mentioned in 1196, Heidelberg was planned and built, together with the castle, in the 13th century. Heidelberg’s heyday as the capital of the Electoral Palatinate began not least with the foundation of the university – today the oldest in Germany – in 1386. Heidelberg was one of the few major German cities to be largely spared the destruction of the World War II. Today Heidelberg Castle is said to be one of the most favourite destinations for international travellers in Germany. So, no doubt that every year more than 11.9 million visitors come to the city.

Heidelberg in autumn. Photo credit: Jan Becke

But besides rich history and ever blooming romanticism, modern Heidelberg is also an educational hub, known to students world over for its universities. It is home to Germany’s oldest university, as well as to numerous others, and to a host of internationally renowned research institutes and research-based companies. Another aspect of Heidelberg’s creativity is its literature. In Heidelberg, literature is omnipresent. Taking a walk through the city, one finds publishing houses, bookshops and libraries around every corner. Taking a look at the vibrant scene of writers, translators and theatre life, one discovers a high level of literary productiveness. No day without literary event, no summer without literary festival, no year without literary award winners. Literature is literally everywhere. Since December 1st 2014 the city is UNESCO City of Literature within UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network.

Photo Credit : Thomas Kunert

Heidelberg is just 78 kms south of Frankfurt. Thus Frankfurt Airport is best for air connectivity to Heidelberg. From Frankfurt, there are various means to reach to Heidelberg including Airport shuttles, buses and trains.

Have you ever been to Heidelberg? Have you seen the Castle Illumination there? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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SMURFS: A BELGIAN CREATION READY TO TOUR THE WORLD

Holy Smurf! Come along to an unusual immersive experience that will prepare Belgians (and all Earthlings) for Smurf life. In 1958, Belgian writer Pierre Culliford, also known as Peyo, fell in love with the mischievous little blue gnomes while writing a Johan and Peewit story (The Flute with Six Holes). Sixty years later, Smurf Village 2.0 has come to the Brussels Expo. Come and meet Peyo’s star creations from 9 June 2018 until the 27 January 2019 in Hall 4. Their empire includes more than 50 million comics sold in more than 90 countries, 272 TV episodes broadcast in more than 100 countries, 41 YouTube channels, 3 feature-length films and 4 theme parks. If you haven’t heard of the Smurfs by now, ghastly Gargamel will turn you into salt dough! 

2018: YEAR OF THE SMURFS

Only a country as Smurf-tastically surreal as Belgium could name 2018 the ‘Official Year of the Smurfs’. The Minister of Foreign affairs is mobilising his global network of diplomats for this special occasion. Brussels Airlines is also transforming an Airbus A320 into a colourful ‘Aerosmurf’ (take a look at the background). Over the years, Peyo’s little blue gnomes have become the most authentic ambassadors for Belgian humour and values. The Smurfs made their debut in the world of comics in 1958, as minor characters in one of Peyo’s earlier Johan and Peewit medieval adventures. In order to celebrate the Smurfs’ sixtieth birthday in style, the IMPS society wanted to use their copyright to the Smurf universe to create a major event to celebrate Peyo’s impressive legacy. This initial idea was coupled with the creativity and know-how of Stéphan Uhoda and his team. This association gave life to The Smurf Experience.

LED BY SEASONED PROFESSIONALS

The Smurf Experience is a fully immersive show. ASBL L’Usine à Bulles will be responsible for production and creation, as part of a co-production with DC&J Création. Meanwhile, operations will be led by Cecoforma (Uhoda group), an organisation specialised in communication and events. They are well known in Brussels and Wallonia, and have a strong international network. Leading this unusual project is Stéphan Uhoda, chairman of L’Usine à Bulles and CEO of Cecoforma. Born in 1953 in Liège, Uhoda is a culture and heritage aficionado. He joined his family’s service station business after studying at the University of Liège Administration and Business School.

Also read: Smurfs are coming to Brussels Ice Magic!

In 1978 he went on to manage the company. Cecoforma was involved in the technical assistance sector, in both Belgium and abroad. Uhoda diversified in 1990 after the Wallonia Region bought Cecoforma on behalf of the European Commission. In 2016, he acquired Dynamic Events, a B2B and B2C event management company. As a collector of contemporary art, Stéphan Uhoda has also invested in a number of cultural institutions in Liège. “Arts and culture are sources of inspiration for people, including entrepreneurs. The Smurf Experience is a project that is at the intersection of different kinds of work that the Uhoda group carries out. Above all, it was the product, the Smurfs, which convinced us to take on this project. The Smurfs are an amazingly powerful communication tool for spreading important messages,” says Uhoda.

To bring the Smurf Experience to life, L’Usine à Bulles called on seasoned professionals, starting with set designer Marcos Viñals Bassols from Barcelona. He studied interior architecture at the Institut St Luc, followed by set design at La Cambre. He has worked extensively with Belgian directors and producers. He was responsible for, amongst others, the set design for the Battle of Waterloo Memorial. “I was raised on comics, Peyo’s work in particular. Nowadays, children grow up to cartoon Smurfs on the TV, in cinemas or on YouTube,” explains the designer. “The main challenge to overcome in the Smurf Experience set was how to translate the expectations of the different target audiences (children and ‘big kids’) into something coherent.” Meanwhile, L’Usine à Bulles chose Mario Iacampo as executive producer of the project. He is the managing director of Exhibition Hub, an international exhibition creation, production and distribution company. They have worked on projects such as Van Gogh-The Immersive Experience and The Art of the Brick, which showcased Lego sculptures of American comic-book superheroes.

IMMERSION 2.0 IN SMURF WORLD

From 9 June, the Smurfs are in Hall 4 of the Brussels Expo for six months. They are inviting you to join them in an incredibly immersive world for an unusual adventure that is fun and educational in equal measure. Visitors will feel like they’ve been shrunk to Smurf-size (thanks to out-sized interiors and characters) as they explore the enchanted world full of discovery and danger. In nine unique spaces covering a total of 1,500 m2, visitors can get a taste of the Smurf lifestyle, speak their language and fight their longstanding enemy Gargamel.

What is the Smurfs Experience? By diving into a giant comic strip, visitors will go deep into a magic forest to reach the Smurf village. They will taste a magic elixir in Papa Smurf’s house that will turn them into Smurfs themselves. Far away, Gargamel is working on a terrible machine that will destroy the village’s climate, our climate. Visitors will have to brave the enchanted forest, avoiding terrible traps that lead to the infamous Gargamel’s lair. They will need all the Smurfs’ help if they are to capture the evil wizard and destroy his awful invention. The adventure has a happy ending and visitors are invited to the village party where they can learn the Smurf dance!

PERFORMING ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY

By using the latest technical innovations, this immersive Smurf experience has a realistic interactive dimension. Animated hologram Smurfs are incorporated in the spaces. A computer graphic Gargamel, trapped in a cage, interacts with the audience thanks to live motion capture. There are giant projections on tarpaulins thanks to video mapping and technology developed by Faceshift means visitors can look into a virtual mirror and see a Smurf version of themselves reflected back! There will also be several amazing virtual reality experiences for them to try out. “This technology was specially adapted for the Smurf Experience through the creation of unique content. One of the big moments in the Experience is a virtual reality section where visitors escape Gargamel and fly back to the village on a stork. It’s a gripping, realistic flight!” says producer Mario Iacampo. Dirty Monitor is the company which developed the different apps used in the Smurf Experience.

“We wanted to present the Smurfs as modern characters that have moved with the times, not as old trolls with white beards, no offence Papa Smurf. Since their inception, Peyo’s blue gnomes have always had this amazing capacity for reinvention and relevance. We have ensured that all the technology can be used by all our visitors, young or old,” adds Chloé Beaufays, the Smurf Experience spokesperson.

The performing arts are present throughout this ambitious show. Throughout the visit there are different activities involving characters in costume. Two of them are at the entrance in a comic strip frame to talk to visitors. Others work Grumpy Smurf, Lazy Smurf and Jokey Smurf puppets from a 120cm stand. “These actors share spontaneous interactive moments with the audience. They can adapt each performance to their reactions,” says Mario Iacampo.

DEFENDERS OF UNIVERSAL VALUES

Part of the show’s appeal is the values the Smurfs espouse: honesty, courage, tolerance, solidarity and generosity. They have healthy lifestyles and care about protecting the environment. “These universal values transcend age, gender and culture, and it’s in this spirit that the Smurf Experience was created. The Smurfs’ values encourage you to reflect on the modern world,” explains Véronique Culliford, the CEO of IMPS.

In 2016, the Smurfs were chosen as ambassadors for 17 sustainable development goals (SDG) set out by the United Nations. 195 countries adopted these goals in 2015. The SDG correspond to three main objectives to be fulfilled between now and 2030: end poverty; protect the planet and guarantee prosperity for everyone. They have been chosen as the themes in the educational content incorporated in the Smurf Experience. Seventeen objects scattered throughout the visit embody the SDG and are accompanied by information sheets and projections. For example, there is a washing line for gender equality, a safe to reference the eradication of poverty and a rolling pin is a symbol of reducing economic inequality. There are also teaching materials for school groups which have been produced with the different education systems in the north and south of Belgium in mind. These materials are available in the three national languages.

“The SDG are a fabulous resource for making young children think about sustainable development,” says Marcos Viñals Bassols. “What’s more, as the Smurf Experience is expected to go on tour around the world, particularly in countries where children don’t necessarily know about the pressure our planet is under, this educational message takes on even more importance.”

A SHOW PARTLY FUNDED BY TAX SHELTER

With a 5 million euro budget, the Smurf Experience is an ambitious immersive show. A fifth of the budget came from Tax Shelter, which expanded to performance arts in 2017. Combining performance with innovative sound, image and set technology, the Smurf Experience corresponds perfectly to the newly expanded Tax Shelter framework. By using this funding source L’Usine à Bulles has collaborated with the DC&J Création cooperative, Tax Shelter specialists Inver, the Theatre de Liège and Theatre Jean Vilar.

The Smurf Experience also relies on the support of several private and public partners. Its main sponsor is Daoust, a Belgian human resources company that was named Business of the Year 2016 (Ernst & Young, L’Écho) and Best Career Transition Company at the HR Excellence Awards 2017. Daoust will be sporting Smurf colours throughout 2018. “The Smurfs are an important source of our national pride. Our collaboration with the Smurfs highlights the Belgian roots our family business holds dear. Beyond this Belgian spirit, this collaboration was a no-brainer as Daoust and the Smurfs share common values such as respect, friendliness and being family-oriented. These values are really at the heart of our famous “Welcome to the Family!” motto explains Giles Daoust, company CEO and recently named Young Top Manager in The Entrepreneur Awards.

Also read: Comic festival unveils great new features this year

BNP Paribas Fortis, as well as other public institutions (the National Lottery, Brussels Region and some of its organisations such as Visit Brussels, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the German-Speaking Community) are also lending their support to the Smurf Experience.

AN INTERNATIONAL CALLING

In 2019, the Smurf Experience will set out on a five-year world tour. The sets, the storyline and the technology incorporated in the show were planned so that they can be adapted to a range of audiences around the world. Several interested parties from Europe, the Middle East and Asia have been in touch, before the Experience had even been launched. Peyo’s little blue gnomes have succeeded in the fantastic feat of becoming ambassadors for Belgian heritage around the world.

ONCE UPON A TIME…

It all began on 23 October 1958 in the pages of the Belgian magazine Spirou. Johan and Peewit were the heroes of a comic set in the Middle Ages. A little voice appeared on the 36th page of their ninth story saying, “Can’t you look where you put your Smurfs? You nearly smurfed me!” Then a little blue-skinned gnome popped up from behind a stone. It led Johan and Peewit to the village. The Smurfs had made their début in Peyo’s world. Nobody could have imagined that this modest beginning would mark the start of a global phenomenon. As minor characters in “The Flute with Six Holes”, they could have disappeared after “the end”, but the audience’s enthusiasm made that impossible. From then on, Peyo took them on their own adventures, firstly in short stories in a smaller format, then in a series of full size albums the success of which grew and grew.

Thirty-six albums later, with more than 50 million albums sold around the world, the Smurfs have become international icons of Belgian comics. But these mischievous little blue creatures soon leapt off the pages and onto our cinema and TV screens, and digital platforms. ‘The Smurfs and the Lost Village’ came out in 2017. It was the third feature-length animated film starring Peyo’s mini heroes and the first full-length CGI (computer generated imagery) animation. A new 3D animated series is planned for 2020. The Smurfs also have their own official YouTube channel available in 41 languages. They star in musicals and are special guests at theme parks in Antwerp, Dubai, Malaysia and Moscow (in 2019), and soon they will be heading to China too.

PEYO: A MODEST, SELF-TAUGHT MAN

Pierre Culliford (known as Peyo) was born in Brussels on the 25 June 1928. He had to work from the age of 15, starting out as a cinema projectionist, then moving on to working in a cartoon studio. The studio closed and Peyo decided to move on to comics. He published comic strips in a wide variety of daily papers, but it was difficult at first.

He did not become successful until he joined Spirou magazine. With fellow artists Franquin, Morris and Roba, their work formed a milestone in humorous European comics. After the Smurfs appeared, Peyo continued working on the adventures of Johan and Peewit, as well as Poussy the cat, and he created Benoît Brisefer, a boy with super-powers (known variously as Tammy Tuff, Benny Breakiron and Steven Strong in English). However, the global success of the Smurfs meant they ended up taking up all his energy. He devoted himself to them and their destiny (in all its forms) until his death in 1992. There are qualities that were embodied in Peyo’s art and were key to the success and timelessness of his work: clear storytelling, a poetic sense of humour, an effective style and constant creativity, not forgetting key values which transcend generations such as tolerance, belief in the future and respecting others.

Studio Peyo was founded in 1964 and trained several big names in Belgian comics, such as Derib, Gos and Walthéry. Six illustrators (three of whom were trained by the father of the Smurfs) still carry on Peyo’s work today. One of them is Thierry Culliford, Peyo’s son, who cowrites new stories with Alain Jost and Luc Parthoens. The 36th album, ‘The Smurfs and the Dragon of the Lake’, came out in March 2018.

Some statistics about the power of the Smurf brand

• 700 active licences

• 100 million Schleich figurines sold

• 1 billion dollars of annual revenue generated by selling retail products

• Over 75 million video game downloads

• 1 Smurf Haribo eaten every minute around the world

60 YEARS OLD AND STILL GOING STRONG

The opening of the Smurf Experience on 9 June was one of the key moments in the “Official Year of Smurfs”, which is packed full of events.

• Since 24 March, one Brussels Airlines Airbus A320 has been flying with a Smurf makeover.

• In April, the studio that creates the Smurf comics created a special drawing for the 60th anniversary of the Atomium. It is on display in front of the kid’s sphere.

• On 24 May, the Expo Peyo, an exhibition telling the life story of the great comic artist, opened in the Centre Wallonie-Bruxelles in Paris (opposite the Pompidou Centre). The exhibition is on until 28 October 2018

• On the 19 June, a Smurf mural will be officially unveiled close to Brussels Central Station (next to the Hilton Brussels Grand-Place). A second fresco will be inaugurated in Rochefort.

• On the 31 August, the Smurfs will once again serve as mascots at the Memorial Van Damme athletics event.

• In September they will be guests of honour at the 9th Brussels Comic Strip Festival.

• In October, the Smurfs’ birthday month, (their actual birthday is 23 October), a heritage book about Peyo’s work will be released.

Also read: A lot for comic lovers in Brussels this year

Have you ever been hooked by cartoon strips like Smurfs?  How far you can travel to be part of this experience? Please share your experience in the comments section below!

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Comics Festival unveils great new features this year


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Comic Book Festival
BOZAR © visit.brussels – Eric Danhier

There are not many comics festivals in the world like the now famous Brussels Comics Festival in the European capital. To mark its 9th year, from 14–16 September 2018, the Brussels Comics Festival contains its own batch of novelties. This year the brave Alix is celebrating 70 years of existence and will be honoured right through this weekend dedicated to the 9the art. Since its inauguration in 2010 by visit.brussels, the Comics Festival has come a long way. Launched after a year dedicated to Brussels about the 9th art, each year the Comics Festival welcomes nearly 100,000 visitors and more than 250 comics artists.

Comic Book Festival
Parc de Bruxelles – Warandepark © visit.brussels – Eric Danhier

This year, the Comics Festival will once again be taking up its place in Brussels park where the traditional tents will be pitched over 14, 15 and 16 September coming. Aside from the regular giant balloon parade or the rally of cars drawn from the huts of the greatest comics, the Comics Festival offers lovers of the genre talks, screenings, signings and other activities suitable for all.

Comic Book Festival
Parc de Bruxelles – Warandepark © Visit Brussels – Jean-Paul Remy

For its 9the year, this unmissable event for comics fans has its own batch of new features:

• The courageous Alix will be honoured throughout the festival. From the exhibition poster to the Balloon’s Day Parade, the Gallic hero will be present everywhere.

• There will be two exclusives exhibitions:

o “Alix–The art of Jacques Martin”:This is the show-piece exhibition of this year’s festival. In collaboration with the publisher Casterman and the Royal Museum of Arts and History (Parc du Cinquantenaire), it will be produced by all parts for the Comics Festival. This will bring together around 150 original drawings arranged by topic (historical references, treatment of women and homosexuality, treatment of the imagination, etc.) situated among the permanent museum collections in the Parc du Cinquantenaire and will be on display for 4 months.

Also read: A lot for comic lovers in Brussels this year

o “Live in Fran Disco”–Thierry Van Hasselt/FMK(Wallonia-BrusselsFederation): This exhibition honours the winner of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Prize for Comics (Prix Atomium 2017), Thierry Van Hasselt/Fremok for his work “Live in FranDisco”.

Comic Book Festival
BOZAR © Visit Brussels – Jean-Paul Remy

• A Smurf balloon will be appearing in the Balloon’s Day Parade.

• An exceptional comics improv contest: “Spirou vs Fluide Glacia: the clash!”In recent months, a curious tension has been noted in the relations between SPIROU and FLUIDE GLACIAL, two monuments of the comics newspaper press. No holds barred, it seems. As a sharp observer of this battle, Thierry Tinlot, former head editor of the two newspapers, has put himself forward as a referee and proposed an improv match during the comics festival! The only weapon of choice: humour! Players and artists will be defending the honour of their respective magazine. We’re talking here about Berco and Munuera siding with Spirou, and Mo/CDM and Ju/CDM with Fluide… Provided, however, this means the two publications don’t mutually destroy one another. This super-original face-off is taking place at BOZAR. In collaboration with the Belgian Professional Improvisation League.

• Lastly, there was one publisher missing from the Comics Festival. A very important publisher from the north of the country: The Comics Festival is proud to welcome Standaard Uitgeverij this year.

Comic Book Festival
BOZAR © visit.brussels – Eric Danhier

Second edition of the Atomium Comic Strip Prizes

Comic strips are an art that has fallen from favour in recent years. It has often proved difficult for professional comic strip artists to make a living from their work. visit.brussels, in close collaboration with the Brussels-Capital regional government, highlights the city’s support for creativity and brings together existing initiatives in awarding mainly cash prizes that will help the winners to finance their work.

Comic Book Festival
Parc de Bruxelles – Warandepark © Visit Brussels – Jean-Paul Remy

In 2017, as part of its 8th edition, the Comics Festival presented the Atomium Comic Strip Prize for the first time. Some 7 prizes, worth a total of 100,000 euros, were presented in September 2017 in BOZAR. Building on this success, the Comics Festival is reliving the experience in 2018, while expanding the concept even further: no less than 9 prizes will be given out for a total amount of 115,000 euros. The sponsor of the second awards ceremony will be French screenwriter Fabien Vehlmann, author of the series “Seuls” and “Spirou and Fantasio”.

Comic Book Festival
Parc de Bruxelles – Warandepark © visit.brussels – Eric Danhier

So if you love comics, then Brussels is place to be for you this September.

Have you ever been at Brussels Comics Festival? Share your experience with your favourite comic characters.

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India Summer Days return to Karlsruhe and lot more in SouthWest Germany


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On the weekend of 14th to 15th July 2018, the INDIA SUMMER DAYS return to Karlsruhe under the heading ‘Baden-Württemberg meets Maharashtra’: a small piece of India right in the centre of Karlsruhe, with all its sumptuous colours, music and dance. India fans can indulge in live music, an Indian bazaar, culinary delicacies and numerous other cultural highlights, as well as Ayurveda and yoga workshops.  Last year India Summer Days were held for the first time alongside the “Pre-Festival” in the middle of the Günther-Klotz-Anlage.

SouthWest Germany, the federal state of Baden-Württemberg, is right in the heart of Europe and is bordered by France, Switzerland and Austria. Easy to get to, easy to get around, easy to have fun: that’s SouthWest Germany, a real four-season destination! With history and high-tech, romantic palaces and vibrant cities, natural beauty, glamour and fun, SouthWest Germany guarantees something for everyone. 

Also Read: Germany Unplugged – Holidaying in the SouthWest

Due to its varied historic and cultural heritage, South West Germany is abound in cultural monuments. Six of 42 UNESCO World heritage sites in Germany are located between the lake of Constance and the northern part of South West Germany. Ice Age Art in South West Germany, Historic Stone Age lake-dwellings on Lake Constance, the Frontiers of the Roman Empire , the Maulbronn Monastery and the Monastic Island of Reichenau. Worth mentioning as well, are the apartment buildings of the French architectLe Corbusier in Stuttgart, „the Weissenhof Estate“. Le Corbusier designed as well the master plan of the Indian City Candigarh in 1952 which was declared by UNESCO as World heritage in July 2016.

Wherever you go in Southwest Germany you are never far from a grand palace, a romantic castle, half-timbered houses – and something good to eat and drink. Stop in a café for coffee and cake; linger in a beer garden over a locally-brewed pint; taste wines at a traditional wine festival; sample schnapps and world-class gin in the Black Forest. Order traditional dishes in a Weinstube (tavern) and gourmet meals in Germany’s most Michelin-star studded region. In 2018 there are many foodie reasons to come to Southwest Germany, or Baden-Württemberg, as we call it.

Europa Park

In the heart of the border triangle, between the Black Forest and Vosges, lies the best theme park worldwide- Europa-Park. Whether Ireland, France or Spain ‒ 15 European themed areas with exemplary architecture, gastronomy, and vegetation are waiting to be discovered by visitors from around the world, embarking on a journey of discovery through Europe with over 100 attractions and shows and the promise of lots of fun and adventure for the whole family. The park’s own 4* hotels provide everything visitors need for a perfect family holiday or romantic wellness weekend with an authentic atmosphere and ambience unique to each themed hotel.

Shop till you drop! Read: Munich is a ultra-chic shopping destination

At India Summer Days, visitors will experience the great diversity of Indian culture and tradition in an authentic way. The focus will be on Maharashtra, Baden-Württemberg’s partner region in the heart of India, which has been linked to Karlsruhe for years. Last year Balaji També and a team of Ayurveda doctors, yoga teachers and cooks traveled from Atmasantulana Village, India, to the summer festival in Karlsruhe and offered many informative workshops on Ayurveda, Ayurvedic products, pulse diagnosis, Ayurvedic nutrition, healing music, meditation and yoga. Numerous other artists and musicians as well as yoga and Ayurveda experts will be arriving in Karlsruhe directly from India. This region has got special relations with Maharashtra. Stuttgart meets Mumbai wine festival also celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2014. The long and enduring town-twining between Mumbai and Stuttgart which dates back to 1968.

India Summer Days, Credit: jowapress.de

Susanne Schlung, Marketing Director of the State Tourist Board said after her recent visits to Mumbai and Delhi that  she could see a lot of interest in traveling to Europe and especially the interests of travellers who travel the second or third or….time to explore a region of Germany – such as SouthWest Germany. She was really surprised that a lot of the people she met during our stay, know of Cuckoo-clocks, the Black Forest with its delicious Black Forest cake and Baden-Baden with its Spas and Casino.

Sharing culture! Read: A culture feast at Upper Rhine Valley

Susanne said, “Due to the demand for smaller family groups, apartments and smaller busses for more people are more relevant. Small groups and individual travellers also like to try our lovely traditional food and beverages (beer and wine) as well as our high level cuisine in lots of Michelin starred-restaurants. But on the third or fourth day of their journey they need to have Indian food again. No problem; south west Germany has a lot of Indian restaurants to offer! Indians also like Shopping! So, in south west Germany they have lots of possibilities to go shopping – from traditional souvenirs , e.g. the Cuckoo-Clock at the Tiitisee-Shops up to designer wear in the Outlet City in Metzingen which is a 30 minute drive to Stuttgart or Wertheim Village in the north of SWG. Outlet City Metzingen offers at about 80 different luxury designer brands (such as Hugo Boss, Prada, Nike, Michel Kors, Armani, Burberry, Gucci & Jimmy Choo).”

Europa Park

German cars, especially Mercedes Benz and Porsche are well-known and loved in India. There are two museums in the capital city of SWG, Stuttgart, were one can see a lot of cars and learn something about the history of the cars. Traveling by train, which is very fast and convenient in Germany is also very popular with travellers.

Have you visited SouthWest Germany or Europa Park? How was the fun? Please share with us all!

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Block the dates! Seventh edition of the Eat! BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX this September

On 6, 7, 8 and 9 September, lovers of good food and wine have a date with Eat BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX Once again, the festival will spotlight the big names in Brussels gastronomy and the wines of Bordeaux. The visitors can embark on a culinary voyage, tasting the signature dishes offered by the great chefs of Brussels. All amid the greenery of the Parc de Bruxelles.

For the seventh year of the Eat! BRUSSELS, Drink! BORDEAUX festival, the best chefs in Brussels are once again taking over the stoves in the pop-up kitchens set up in the Parc de Bruxelles. Each of them will offer a gourmet public his (or her) signature dish. A great opportunity to discover the talents of Belgian gastronomy in a pleasant, convivial setting. visit.brussels have been in partnership with Les Vins de Bordeaux for the last five years.

Over fifty wine growers and wine merchants will be present at the event to show off the full range of wines from Bordeaux – reds, whites, rosés and crémants – that will be the perfect partners for the dishes concocted by the chefs. The 6 families of Bordeaux wines are each represented in their own special pavilion. Bordeaux Red & Bordeaux Supérieur Red; Côtes de Bordeaux; Saint-Emilion Pomerol Fronsac; Médoc & Graves; Sweet Bordeaux; Rosés, Dry whites and Crémants de Bordeaux. The Bordeaux Wine School will offer workshops in which novices can be initiated into Bordeaux wines and the more experienced can enhance their knowledge.

New features in 2018:

– An updated offering: New chefs will be joining the event to fly the flag of their restaurants. Several signature dishes will also have a vegetarian version. Ten restaurants have already confirmed their attendance. Returning are Vincent, Garage à Manger, Brinz’l, Le Tournant, Augusta, Rouge Tomate, Racines and Stirwen. And two new participants have already confirmed: Crab Club and San Bol.

– New cheese and dessert bar

– The festival will have 4 new, original themes for the Masterclasses: Crus classés from Graves, grands crus classés from Saint-Émilion, grands vins from Médoc from the 2015 vintage, Sweet Bordeaux & Belgian cheeses.

– The eat! Awards: This year, the eat! Awards will make their appearance. They will reward the chefs who were most successful during the event.

Photo: VisitBrussels/ ©E.Danhier

Have you enjoyed any such gastronomical event? How was the fun? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Brussels shines the spotlight on contemporary art

Brussels has become a hub of contemporary art. Few cities in world can boast of such a huge art scene as Brussels, be it in any form. The capital is fertile place for creativity and discovery. International artists are charmed by its many beautiful spaces dedicated to art. Collectors from all over the world, for their part, regularly visit the capital to find that one piece that makes all the difference. Several players help enrich the art scene: the WIELS, BOZAR, MIMA, the Centrale for Contemporary Art, the CAB Foundation, the Villa Empain, and let’s not forget the future Kanal Foundation either. Between museums and art centres, galleries and artists’ collectives, fairs and other events, Brussels is sharing its passion for art.

Salon Beurs Show at Art Brussels

Every year, Brussels celebrates contemporary art from April to May. From the unmissable Art Brussels fair to the Private Choices exhibition, not to mention the Affordable Art Fair, events will be showcasing contemporary art with both domestic and international artists taking centre stage. Here is a quick look at the fairs, exhibitions and unmissable events of the next few months.

Fairs

Art Brussels

Art Brussels

Art Brussels is celebrating its 50th birthday: This year’s fair is full of innovations. Since its creation, Art Brussels has developed into one of the biggest contemporary art fairs in Europe. The fair is an unmissable date on the international artistic calendar. No less than 147 galleries featuring art from 32 countries. Art Brussels has never been so international, although the number of Belgian galleries has also increased.

Dates: From 19 to 22 April 2018

Venue: Tour et Taxis

Poppositions

POPPOSITIONS 2017 Exhibition view ©Renato Ghiazza

Recognising the crucial role of contemporary art fairs within a globalised market, Poppositions aims to revitalise the ways that pieces are hung and presented, always experimenting and discovering ground-breaking ways of selling. It is more than a fair, it is an exhibition involving a continuous critical dialogue, whilst guarding against stand-based layout. The title of this year’s fair, In Watermelon Sugar, was borrowed from that of the post- apocalyptic novel of the same name by Richard Brautigan, published in 1968.

Dates: From 19 to 22 April 2018

Venue: Former Coppens Studio

ACAF

Since 2006, the special feature of this fair is that the artists themselves do the exhibiting. ‘Accessible Art Fair (ACAF) brings original art, with a mix of photography, design and sculpture, to a public that has been buying art since 2006.

Date: 19 April to 22 August 2018

Venue: Nonciature du Sablon

Blast from the past: Contemporary Art- Brussels’ cultural heartbeat in April

Themed exhibitions

The Brutal Play

The CAB Foundation presents The Brutal Play, a collective exhibition curated by Matthieu Poirier, who is gathering sculptures by ten artists, from the constructivist period through the minimalism of the sixties, to the present day.

Dates: Until 26 May 2018

Venue: CAB Foundation

Unexchangeable

It is often said that there is nowhere else that has as significant a proportion of art collectors as Belgium. It is striking, however, that with such potential, so few partnerships are formed between public museums and private collections. By means of a selection of historic and museum-quality works from the 80s and 90s, on loan from private collections in Belgium, the exhibition focuses on the value of a work of art. This exhibition tells the story of a pivotal time in the history of art, during which artists changed the paradigm of the uniqueness of a work of art through concepts such as the simulacrum, simulation and equivalence.

Date: 19 April to 12 August 2018

Venue: Wiels

Private Choices

The Private Choices exhibition lifts the veil over an important sector of the art field: collections of contemporary art and the art lovers who initiated them. More than ever before they play a major role in a constantly growing art world. This project showcases 11 Brussels collections gathering together works by Belgian and international artists, famous artists, and young creators, in an attempt to reveal the uniqueness of each of them. Through the choices made in collaboration with the collectors, what is revealed is a part of their vision of art and of life.

Dates: Up to 27 May 2018

Venue: CENTRALE for contemporary art

Melancholia

The Boghossian foundation presents its new exhibition entitled Melancholia at the Villa Empain. It addresses the origins and manifestations of melancholia. Existing in East and West since antiquity, it continually sends human beings to their lost origins, filling them with regret for a world that has passed.

Dates: 15 April to 19 August 2018

Venue: Villa Empain

Promesses d’un visage [Promises of a face]

©TravelMagazine

The Promesses d’un visage exhibition takes you back through more than six centuries of portraiture, through paintings, drawings, sculptures and photographs from the collections of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, as well as guest pieces. An object representing power or challenge, an instrument for social recognition or the expression of the subject’s rebellion, the portrait is a genre which has undergone a number of metamorphoses over time, right up to the habit of the selfie. Bouts, Memling, Rubens, Van Dyck, Gauguin, Ensor, Chagall, Delvaux, Bacon, Tuymans, Borremans, Fabre, Vanfleteren…

Dates: 23 April to 15 July 2018

Venue: Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium

Voici des fleurs [Here are some flowers]

This exhibition pays homage to the work of Akarova (1904-1999), a renowned interwar era Brussels woman who devoted her life to music, dance, choreography, painting and sculpture. La loge is inviting contemporary artists to exhibit their own works side by side with Akarova’s works, and to make their own connection between her ideas and the dynamics of production.

Dates: 19 April to 30 June 2018

Venue: La loge

Events

Opening of the Kanal Foundation

The Kanal Foundation will be opening its doors on 5 May for a year before the refurbishment work begins. This future museum of contemporary art and architecture will be housed in the former Citroën garage a stone’s throw from the Senne. Throughout the year, this cross-disciplinary exhibition will be offering screenings, concerts, performances and exhibitions of works taken mainly from the Pompidou Centre collections. It is a chance to see pieces never before seen in Belgium in this raw space before it is closed for refurbishment work. The coming exhibitions will also present pieces by Brussels artists created especially for the occasion.

Date: Starting from the 5 May 2018

Venue: Fondation Kanal

So if you love contemporary art, you have many reasons to plan a trip to Brussels in coming months.

Have you witnessed the Art scene in Brussels? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

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Nightclubbing: Spring parties you should not miss in Brussels


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Every year, Brussels lights up on fine days. Clubbers and fans of electronic music are not left out. New concepts emerge and iconic venues in the capital offer attractive line-ups for aficionados of the dance floor. C12, Surrender and the not-to-be-missed Listen festival invite night clubbers to get out on the dance floor. The queen of diversity with its 183 nationalities, Brussels also prides itself on offering a wide range of late night party venues. From tech house to dance, not forgetting hip hop, all musical styles can be found here. Many head for a night out in the capital to see the latest DJ or have a crazy time in one of a string of lively late night venues.

At this time of year, new night-time events organised by the well-known names of Brussels nightlife erupt in the capital to the great delight of night owls. As well as the birthday of Fuse, which, as happens every year, offers a programme worthy of its international renown, the Listen festival has unveiled an impressive line-up. Among the DJs present, great names like Mount Kimbie and Floating Point from Britain, or John Talabot from Spain will be presiding over the decks in the iconic venues of the capital, including the magnificent Art Nouveau gallery designed by the architect Victor Horta and Flagey.

This season’s list of venues and events for partygoers is very long. Here is a glimpse of what’s in store:

Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The events

Libertine Under My Garage Last edition:

Libertine Under My Garage is the very recent merging of 2 Brussels groups, Libertine Supersport and Under My Garage, which share the same vision of clubbing and the same sense of a future-oriented musical direction… Their aim is to build a coherent programme of Belgian and foreign artists whose sole concern is to liven up the dance floor. No headliners or hype producers come to play their five-tracks and three remixes, just real DJs who know how to mix and offer a musical journey, without getting stuck in just one genre.

  • Date: 23 March 2018
  • line-up: Young Marco (NL), Central (DA), DJ Sports (DK), Rick Shiver (BE), Arthur Tixhon (BE), Rey Colino (BE)
  • Venue: QUAY 01

Listen festival

The Listen festival consists of DJ sets, concerts, showcases, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, a vinyl exchange, a music equipment market, and much more. The festival welcomes the best of ‘left-of-centre’ electronic music and national and international clubbing to Brussels. Clubbers will discover up-and-coming new artists and get carried away by the rhythms of well-known artists.

  • The headliners: Actress x Mount Kimbie (B2B DJ), Antal, Bicep (DJ), DJ Stingray, Floating Points (DJ), Hunee, John Talabot, Jonny Nash & Suzanne Kraft ‘live’, Lefto, Luke Slater & Mr. Scruff
  • Dates: 29 March to 1 April 2018
  • Venues: Horta Gallery, Flagey, Beursschouwburg, La Madeleine, ING Art Center…

Surrender

The second year of this new electro party concept. The project was started by Darko, the DJ who created the famous Statik Dancin nights and a member of the team that founded the Brussels Electronic Music Festival. In close cooperation with the arts of the digital scene, in 2018 Darko is expanding Surrender to QUAY 01. “Surrender” grew out of an original idea that came to the Belgian DJ following a long stay in Berlin, the temple of electro. Its concept is a series of events intended to promote up-and-coming Belgian and international artists and to indulge a shared passion for electronic music.

  • Date: 7 April 2018
  • Venue: QUAY 01
  • Line-up: Hubble (live), Andrea Ferlin (DJ), Darko (DJ)

The birthday of Fuse: Len Faki extended set

Founded in 1994 by Thierry Coppens and Peter Decuypere, Fuse is THE techno temple of Brussels. It has seen the greatest names of the genre behind the decks (with no exceptions). It’s a must for every self-respecting clubber. The unique atmosphere that reigns here attracts people in the know from far away and the scenes at the end of the night, bordering on hysteria, have become almost legendary.

  • Date: 14 April 2018
  • Venue: Fuse

BOZAR Night

Enjoy an international line-up of acclaimed and up-and-coming electronic music DJs and producers whilst visiting major exhibitions: that’s the unique concept behind BOZAR NIGHT. This edition is one you can’t afford to miss. The minimal house and techno of Detroit-born Magda, the subtle and elegant electronic music of veteran Frenchwoman Chloé, the raw, danceable beats of Kyoka, Haring’s playful experiments, the dark abstract textures of Monolithe Noir and the narrative sounds of Liyo will lift your spirits into this unique BOZAR Night.

  • Date: 30 April 2018
  • Venue: BOZAR
Tourisme Bar Halles Saint Géry Sint Gorikshallen © Jean-Pol Lejeune

The venues

C12

After more than 5 years spent organising musical events in Brussels, as well as Antwerp, Ghent, Paris and Berlin, Deep in House has just launched its new project: C12. The name comes from one of the unused spaces of the Horta Gallery, a gallery located in the bowels of Brussels Central Station and designed by Victor Horta.The aim of this new space is to promote tolerance and open-mindedness in a cultural, festive setting. On the programme: concerts, exhibitions, parties and artistic performances.

  • Dates: several dates every week
  • Venue: Horta Gallery
Tourisme Nightclub ¬© Jean-Pol Lejeune

Le Zodiak

Founded in 2016, the ZODIAK is a club that is open to everyone. The ZODIAK offers a night- time experience that is out of this world only a few steps from the Grand-Place de Bruxelles. Fans of electronic music will be able to enjoy a journey through sound and light in this new place where the clubbing and underground cultures rub up against each other. This spring, ZODIAK’s programme focuses on the promotion of local artists and labels, but also hosts artists from Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

  • Dates: Every Friday and Saturday
  • Venue: Zodiak


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A year to celebrate the art of Circus


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How fond we all were of circus in our childhood days. The animals and the acrobats and the jokers. Circus might be thing of past in some part of the world, but the art is still alive and kicking. Actually, there are lot of efforts to preserve and modernise this art. European capital Brussels has been leading efforts in this regard. There is no city in world better than Brussels when we talk about showcasing its different art forms. Similarly, Brussels is now for the next one year showcasing the art of circus. Brussels also has a focusCIRCUS.brussels for this specific purpose.

FocusCIRCUS.brussels aims to promote the vitality of Brussels circus arts, from March 2018 to March 2019, with an explosion of shows and performances in Brussels, a tour of 8 Brussels circus troupes in Italy and France, an avalanche of festivals, and many more initiatives. FocusCIRCUS.brussels kicks off on 12 March 2018 at BOZAR with a celebratory evening and the opening of Festival UP!.

© Sylvain Frappat

BRUSSELS’ BEST AMBASSADORS ARE ITS ARTISTS
FocusCIRCUS.brussels is an initiative of Minister Rachid Madrane, in charge of the Promotion of Brussels for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. After contemporary art in Paris in 2016 (INDISCIPLINE) and contemporary dance in Berlin in 2017 (RADIKAL), FocusCIRCUS.brussels is the third edition in a series that aims to promote Brussels by showcasing its artists, with a project that’s bigger than its two predecessors.

“In the last few years, circus has become one of Brussels’ nest calling cards. Every year since 2015, I have supported a Brussels troupe with the presenting of a show as part of the famous Avignon festival. In 2018 several major events will be taking place, highlighting Brussels’ circus landscape. Notable among them will be the organisation, for the 1st time ever in Brussels, of the Fresh Circus #4 seminar – which gathers more than 400 circus professionals – and the new campus for the ESAC (Brussels’ circus arts college), one of the world’s most prestigious circus art schools. FocusCIRCUS.brussels was born of the desire to present the extraordinary vitality of Brussels’ circus arts to circus a cionados, novices, producers and all those who love Brussels.” exclaimed Minister Madrane excitedly.

This year-long celebration of the circus arts will be made up of two sections, both national and international. Visit.Brussels, Brussels’ tourism agency, is in charge of the organisation of focusCIRCUS.brussels. Patrick Bontinck, CEO of visit.brussels has said that, “Outside of the launch evening on 12 March at BOZAR, focusCIRCUS,brussels’s concept is not to create new initiatives because Brussels is already brimming with circus festivals and events. Organised in collaboration with Espace Catastrophe, ESAC circus college, the City of Brussels and the Halles de Schaerbeek, focusCIRCUS.brussels aims to promote Brussels and its circus scene by uniting, under one name and project, the four partner’s various events, and supporting them with their communication and distribution.”

FocusCIRCUS.brussels kicks off in Brussels on 12 March with a grand festive evening at BOZAR and the opening of Festival UP!, then continues until March 2019 with the UP!, HOPLA!, and Hors Pistes festivals, shows and performances by students from ESAC and the Fresh Circus#4 seminar. The international tour of 8 Brussels circus troupes in Italy and France starts in September 2018 and finishes in January 2019. Troupes will include Back Pocket, Carré Curieux, Cie la scie du Bourgeon, Cie Menteuses, Gaël Santisteva, Piergiorgio Milano, Poivre Rose, Claudio Stellato.

Have a look at some other snap shots of this years UP! festival-

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A lot for comic lovers in Brussels this year


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When it comes to Comics, no country celebrates the 9th art like Belgium. This year once again, European capital Brussels is honouring the bande dessinée with a number of key events. Such an array of activities would be impossible to overlook. From the
unmissable comics festival to the book fair, taking in the Smurf Experience, the capital of the 9th art is honouring it more than ever this year.

From its early beginnings in the 19th century, the Belgian bande dessinée or comic strip has garnered truly worldwide fame. Many comic illustrators and scriptwriters from our country, and Brussels artists in particular, have earned recognition far beyond our borders. As the acknowledged capital of the comic, Brussels has continually honoured the 9th art: museums, galleries, markets, festivals and specialist stores dedicated purely to the bande dessinée.

To promote this rich comic heritage, Brussels and Belgian comic artists will be there in force again at the 45th Angoulême International Comic Festival. And, thanks to the support of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation, Belgian publishers and authors will have the pleasure of unveiling their works to their audience in Angoulême. 2018 is also “Smurf Year” culminating in the organisation of one exceptional event: The Smurf Experience. Aside from the comics festival taking place from 14–16 September, the Belgian capital is offering a series of activities centring on the 9th art right through the year, a taste of which is to follow.

The Smurfs are celebrating their 60th birthday

It all began back in 1958. These tiny blue creatures, fruit of Peyo’s imagination, first appeared in another series by the same author, ” Johan and Pirlouit “, and instantly won the hearts of readers demanding new stories about the Smurfs. In 2018, they will be celebrating their 60th birthday.

This Smurfantastic year will be marked by several events: the 5th iconic Brussels Airlines aircraft will be taking off with a Smurf makeover, a gigantic comic mural will be inaugurated at the heart of the capital and a surprise will be unveiled on the Grand-Place of Brussels. Moreover, the Smurfs share a birthday with another symbol of Brussels, the Atomium which is also celebrating its 60th birthday, with another surprise to mark this double celebration. Lastly, there will be a thrills at the Belgian National Day festivities (21 July) at the 20 km Brussels and at the Vandamme Memorial athletics championship – with the highlight being the holding of a special event: The Smurfs, an immersion experience.

The new Flemish comic strip

The new Flemish comic festival brings together a string of talented authors, who are all developing their own individual style. However, their artistic differences do not stop these hungry young artists from sharing the same ambition: conquering the world (of the comic strip). They include Brecht Evens, Nix, Olivier Schrauwen, Pieter de Poortere, Simon Spruyt and Judith Vanistendael. Translated into several languages, they are renowned for their illustrating and scriptwriting qualities, both in Belgium and internationally.

Dates : until 03/06/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Chinese comic panorama

While the oldest illustrated Chinese book dates from 868, well before Gutenberg invented the printing press, the manhua (Chinese comic strip) really began to take off in the first half of the 20th century, as it did in Belgium. Mr Wang, the first serial comic strip hero, appeared in 1929, the same year as Tintin. And Sanmao, the most famous Chinese comic strip character, was created in 1935, at the same time as ” the Blue Lotus “, Tintin’s adventure in China! Yet the Chinese comic strip also includes the lianhuanhua, which has its origins in a thousand- year tradition of storytelling through images.

Dates : 13/02/2018 > 09/09/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Everybody loves Tintin

The comic strip will be exhibiting at the Brussels Book Fair

At its Imaginary Palace, the Brussels Book Fair will be offering wonderful live drawing sessions featuring the stars of the 9th art such as Enki Bilal, Benoît Sokal or François Boucq. This workshop will offer an opportunity for a total immersion in the world of comic strip artists with multimedia screenings. At the Comix Factory, visitors will also get a chance to enjoy the buzz of a drawing studio and to learn more about the comic strip of tomorrow, somewhere between tradition and the digital world. Don’t miss : the Comics Night on 23 February. This festive evening will be inviting all authors present to take part in an impressive mural that will impress everybody.

Dates : 22 > 25/02/2018

Location : Tour & Taxis

The Smurf Experience

60 years after their creation, 2018 will be “Smurf Year” culminating in an exceptional highlight event: The Smurf Experience. The world conceived by Peyo will come to life through a series of unique experiences, taking place over a full-immersion circuit. An unforgettable family experience will also be highlighting Smurf values: friendship, tolerance, working together, respect for others and nature. The wonderful world of the Smurfs will extend over 1500 m2. Using holograms, enhanced reality or Kinect effects, both children and adults will learn about the customs of this restless and peaceful tribe, even when they are threatened by their sworn enemy, the infamous Gargamel, who will not rest until he has erased this haven of peace from the face of the earth! And the little ones will get a chance to fulfil their dream of experiencing a real Smurf adventure in Smurf skin and at Smurf scale.

Dates : 09/06/2018 > 29/01/2019

Location : Brussels Expo

Catel : Women’s careers in drawing

Catel has become, in just two decades, a big celebrity in the the French-language comic strip scene, through her portraits of famous women. The Strasbourg-born artist started out by illustrating a number of comic books and annuals for children before drawing her first fictionalised biographies. Meeting the author and screenplay writer José-Louis Bocquet would have a formative effect on the trajectory of her work. Together, they would tackle an album dedicated to Edith Piaf. The graphic novels “Kiki de Montparnasse”, “Olympe de Gouges” and “Joséphine Baker” would follow. She will be meeting Benoîte Groult and talking about the life of Rose Valland and also Mylène Demongeot. Somewhere between graphic literature and comic strip, Catel has earned a retrospective at the Comic Strip Museum.

Dates : 19/06/2018 > 25/11/2018

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Magasin Général

Magasin Géneral (General Store) is series drawn and written by Régis Loisel and Jean-Louis Tripp. The two colleagues combined their talents from 2006 to 2014 in creating, in nine instalments (or volumes!), a moving village symphony, which brings 1920s rural Quebec marvellously to life. As funny as it is sweet.

Dates : 25/09/2018 > 10/03/2019

Location : Comic Strip Museum

Urbanus

In the early 80s, the Belgian illustrator Willy Linthout dreamt up a comic strip based on the Belgian comic Urbanus. « Het fritkotmysterie » (or the chip shop mystery) is the first album in a saga that would run for more than 170 episodes. Purposefully loud, with its absurd characters and amazing story lines, it was enormously successful. Welcome to the surrealist universe of Urbanus!

Dates : 11/12/2018 > 26/05/2019

Location : Comic Strip Museum

The Brussels Comics Festival, the 9th fair for the ninth art !

Since its launch in 2010, the Comics Festival has become the essential meeting point for all comics lovers. Young and old, amateurs or specialists, everyone shares a passion for the ninth art and each year they meet at various activities put on for them. Last year, in 2017, the Comics Festival presented the Atomium Comic Strip Prize for the first time. This was Brussels’ way of showing its support for creative endeavour, bringing together existing initiatives by awarding these prizes, the majority of which were presented as cash prizes to enable the winners to finance their work. In total, at least 100,000 euros in prize money was given out to 7 artists.

Given the notable success of this first round, prizes are being awarded again this year with some new features to be announced shortly.

Dates : 14 > 16 /09/2018

Location : Brussels Park

BALLOON DAY PARADE & TINTIN RALLY

Cars on the stroll!

The comic figure giant balloon parade will be taking over the capital on the weekend of the Comics Festival. The spectacular balloon inflation will begin in the morning. In the afternoon, Spirou, Tintin, Le Chat, Boule, Lucky Luke and their new friends will start their annual game and will be taking over the main streets of Brussels. It will then be the turn of the ancestors of the Tintin Rally to sweep into the capital ending their journey on the Place des Palais.

Date : Comics Festival

Location : Brussels city centre

So, lot to love in these comic characters celebrated in Belgium like nowhere else. Many events to plan in advance. Just be there, if you love comics.

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