Tag Archives: festival

Foodie Fridays – EAT! & Gouter Bruxelles

Brussels supposedly has more restaurants per capita than any other European city. It would take years, maybe a lifetime, to sample them all, but there are two culinary events taking place in the coming days that can help give you a head start.

First up is EAT! Brussels, a new festival dedicated to Brussels restaurants. I went yesterday evening for the opening night along with fellow bloggers Jess from JessinBelgium and Maxcie from WhyIamNotSkinny and we had a great time. The organizers have done a wonderful job with a sophisticated set up of white covered food stalls and bars tucked in between the trees in Bois de la Cambre. Everything is bright pink and green, including the tokens for food and the carpets lining the walkways.

From now through Sunday, 16 September, more than 30 restaurateurs from across Brussels are offering up samples of some of their best dishes at the event. Looking at the map I spotted a few well-known places, some I’ve never heard of and others that I’ve been wanting to try. The city of Brussels is also using the festival to promote cuisine from partner cities and regions around the world, including Québec, Sichuan, Katanga, Budapest, Beijing, Kiev and Sofia. 

The three of us scoped out the choices, and with a glass of champagne in hand, I went for beef teriyaki from YuMe, foie gras from the Budapest stand and nems from Hirondelle d’Or. The food from YuMe was particularly tasty, and very nicely presented. I also had a chance to sample a bite of the spare ribs from the Sichuan stand that were gooey and delicious.

Access to the event is free of charge and you can choose how much to spend on different dishes. We pre-purchased tickets online for €35, which included 3 €10 tokens (pink ones) and tickets for two glasses of Laurent-Perrier. You can also purchase tokens on-site for €1 each (green ones). The dishes range from €6 to €12, and three was enough for a meal.

If you don’t make it to the Bois this weekend, then be sure not to miss Goûter Bruxelles (Taste Brussels) taking place from 17 to 23 September. 

Organized by the Belgian Slow Food movement, the week-long festival will bring together chefs, independent food and drink producers, local shops and gardeners. You can go for a meal at one of the 70 participating restaurants that will offer one or more courses, products, menus or drinks with the Slow Food stamp ‘good, clean and fair’. There are also opportunities to join an educational food walk or attend a free organic gardening lesson.

The restaurants and amazing food choices in Brussels are truly one of the best things about this city so get out and enjoy a taste! Happy eating :)

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Belgian Beer Weekend

If you like beer, even a little bit, this is the weekend to be in Brussels. The 14th edition of the Belgian Beer Weekend starts on Friday and continues through Sunday, with more than 50 Belgian breweries offering up their best. I must admit (as shameful as it is living in Belgium) that I’m not really a beer drinker. As you may have noticed, I’ve had to call in reinforcements (aka my friend Eoin) to write about beer on this blog (Beer Notes post). But even I’m impressed with a festival dedicated to a country that produces so many types of beer

The Beer Weekend is organized by the Belgian Brewers’ Guild to pay tribute to the patron saint of brewers, Saint Arnould. The Guild of Brewers is one of the oldest professional associations in the world and all Belgian breweries belong to it. Read more on the history here.

Typically the festival is hosted on the Grand Place, but this year it has spread to the Bourse as well. A “Beer & Food” exhibition will be held inside the old stock exchange building, where the Belgian Beer Café will present different beer and food pairings every hour. A 50m bar will also be set up in the street behind to help keep your glass full on the walk between the Grand Place and the Bourse. See the map for details.

There is a huge list of beers on offer (more than 350!) from both small and large Belgian breweries. I’m not going to attempt to recommend any so I guess you’ll just have to go and sample several yourselves. Entrance to the Grand Place and Bourse is free. Tickets are €1 a piece and beers range from 2 tickets for a simple Pils, up to 5 tickets for a Trappist beer and other unique brews. 

The festivities kick off on Friday, 31 August, with a celebration for Saint Arnould and some sort of blessing of the beer at St Michel Cathedral around 1:45pm. The real party starts at 6pm with the opening of the Grand Place stalls and continues until 10pm. Visitors can start drinking again at 11am on Saturday and keep going until 9pm (Wow, 10 hours of beer consumption. Things should get interesting). The stalls are open again on Sunday from 11am to 8pm.

If you need a distraction from all the beer (hello, me), watch the parade of historic beer carts and vehicles on Saturday, which leaves the Quai du Bois-à-Brûler (fish market) at 1pm, or the parade of brewers on the Grand Place at 2pm. There’s also a parade of musical groups on Sunday at noon.

Happy (and safe!) drinking :)

Images via Belgian Brewers and Global Grasshopper.

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Party in the city

The crazy hot weather this past weekend made me think of this song – an oldie but a goodie. I know I looked half dead walking around on Sunday.

No matter if the daytime weather is scorching or drizzling (unfortunately more typical around here), summer evenings in Brussels can take on a whole other vibe. This season has already been packed with outdoor concerts, movies and parties at night, but as the end draws near, there are a few more chances to enjoy summer in the city.

The annual Fiesta Latina has found itself a new home in the Bois de la Cambre. No longer jammed in between the parked cars on Avenue Louise, the Latin-themed party will hopefully be even better in among the trees of the park. The festival will include Latin American music, salsa lessons, dancers, as well as a couple of new features, like a Caribbean music stage and a dedicated kid’s area, to commemorate the 10th anniversary.

Things kick off at 4pm on Friday (a good reason to leave work a little early :)) and continue from noon to 2am on Saturday and from noon to 10pm on Sunday. The entrance is €7 and there are shuttle bus services from Avenue Louise to avoid parking in the park.

The Grand Sablon will also host a party this weekend. The Fêtes du Sablon will include three nights of free concerts and outdoor activities. The party starts on Friday evening at 6pm with world music and continues on Saturday with a tasting and apero hosted by the various restaurants and cafes on the square around noon. There’s more music (reggae, jazz, French) both Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6pm to midnight. I’m not so sure about the musical line-up (does anyone know who Lou & The Hollywood Bananas are??) but it might be a fun atmosphere to check out if you’re in the area.

Starting next Monday, Ancienne Belgique will take over Parc de Bruxelles for a week-long series of musical performances spanning a wide variety of genres. The 9th edition of Feeërieën will focus around different themes for each day, including a mix of contemporary classical music with electronica on Monday, doom soul and haunted instrumentals on Tuesday, electronica and ambient on Wednesday, indie-pop on Thursday and young Belgian artists on Friday. All of the concerts will be held at the restored bandstand in the park, starting a 7pm. Everything is free, so as long as the weather stays dry next week, there is no excuse not to stop by. You’ll never know what up-and-coming artist you’ll get a chance to see!

Images via Fiesta Latina and Fêtes du Sablon.

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Brussels Summer Festival

Thanks to everyone who took the time to watch the clip from yesterday’s post and share it with others. I don’t like to highlight the worst of Brussels, however it really is too crucial an issue to ignore. But now it’s time to get back to the “best of” business and boy have I got a good one for you today. The annual Brussels Summer Festival starts tomorrow and will fill Brussels with music for the next 10 days. Come on, what’s not to love about a concert with a rockin’ Manneken Pis as a mascot?!

Launched in 2002, the festival is a great way to discover all types of music, as well as other cultural activities, all with the city of Brussels as the backdrop. This year three main stages will be set up around the Place des Palais, Place du Musée and Mont des Arts in the center of town, showing concerts from 10 to 19 August. The line up is diverse to say the least, with Belgian and international artists including groups like Kiss & Drive, Sarah Carlier, Iggy Pop & The Stooges and Adam Cohen.

Things kick off with the Electrocity outdoor party tomorrow, which will gather top Belgian DJs at the Mont des Arts to perform from 4pm to 1am. If you can’t wait until Friday to get your party on, you can catch a preview of Electrocity tonight as some 20 bars around Brussels are holding electro concerts and DJs sessions.

Alongside the main outdoor stages, the festival has also put together an indoor program including retro and swing music at Madame Moustache, DJ sets at Mr Wong and Café Central and a musical flea market at Café Musicale Bonnefooi. See the full agenda for all venues (outdoor and indoor) here. The Brussels Summer Festival also features classical music with international and emerging artists at the Bourse (see details at Classissimo.be).

The festivities aren’t limited to music. Your ticket can also get you free access to several museums during the 10 days (Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Bozar, Musical Instrument Museum, Coudenberg and BELvue), films at CINEMATEK and at outdoor screens and loads of other street activities. See more details here.

You can either buy a 10 day pass for all events for €35 (plus ticketing fees) or a 1-day pass for €12.50 (opening weekend) or €17.50 (rest of festival). The presale of tickets ends today at midnight so hurry up and get to a FNAC store or buy online. Note – BSF pass does not include the Classissimo concerts. See the BSF website for information on how to get to the venues.

After all the other festivals taking place around Belgium this summer, it’s now Brussels turn and it looks like it will be a good one!

P.S. And for the die-hard music fans out there, there’s a chance to win a guitar autographed by the festival artists. As f tomorrow, go to the Place du Musée and take a picture with the giant guitar. Then send the picture to info@bsf.be for a chance to win!

Images via Brussels Summer Festival and Electrocity.

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