Category Archives: Attractions

Spotted by Locals

So the nice folks over at Spotted by Locals are sharing the Brussels love this week. Their City of the Week is Brussels and to celebrate they’re offering their iPhone app guide for free until Friday (usually costs $3.99). I downloaded it yesterday and gave it a little test run. Here are the results.


The app is easy to use, with lists of places around Brussels sorted by categories like bars, restaurants, music, shopping, etc. You can also view the featured locations on a map or by searching nearby. Each entry has a short review from the Spotted by Locals team, address, hours and other useful info.

SpottedbyLocals app             SpottedbyLocals app

The list of bars is pretty decent and includes some popular spots like Bar Beton, Chez Franz and L’Ultime Atome. The restaurant list is okay with reviews of places like Kokuban, Ici and Toukoul but is missing some of my favorites and generally more up-scale eateries.

I like that they have a list dedicated to coffee & tea, as a good cup of coffee isn’t always easy to find. There is also a list of spots to relax around Brussels, including parks, squares and other public spaces. The shopping list is rather limited but they make up for it with the more complete overview of arts, culture and music venues.

SpottedbyLocals app            SpottedbyLocals app

Overall the app is useful and allows you to make a selection of your favorites. This week Spotted by Locals is also offering free city apps for London and Berlin so get’em while they’re hot. If you roll old-school style, you can always download the PDF version of the Brussels city guide for a reduced price of $0.89.

There are several other smartphone apps for Brussels out there, many of them for free, which I posted about here and here a little while back. This latest one is a good addition to the mix!

P.S. and be sure to also check out The Spotted by Locals list of top Brussels blogs posted yesterday. Best of Brussels made the cut!

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New Year’s Eve

The end of 2012 is nearly upon us! I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for 2013 and the new adventures it has in store. Everyone has their own take on celebrating New Year’s Eve – some like to stay home, others like to enjoy a meal with friends, and some like to party the night away. I’ve done all of the above in Brussels over the years. This time around I’ll be on plane back from the US but her are a few ideas if you’re in Brussels on December 31st and want to have a litte fun!

First, a little tune to set the scene… 

If you want to get all dressed up and join a big crowd to ring in 2013, the Libertine Supersport party might be for you. Libertine usually throws great evenings with top DJs, so I would expect this to be a good bet. The Gesu Church is the venue (165-171 Rue Royal, across from Botanique) and doors open at 11pm and they won’t turn on the lights until 8am. See the website for more details. You can buy tickets in advance for €15 online or from Fnac. If you’re looking to party-hop, you can also buy a pass for 6 different parties (including the Libertine party) from Visit Brussels for €50.

 Libertine Supersport

For a more alternative, retro celebration you can check out the Radio-a-Gogo party at La Tentation (28 Rue de Laeken) This 60s-themed event will feature oldies rock tunes, gogo dancers and a character known as Black Elvis. Things kick off at 11pm and you can buy tickets in advance for €15 online (€20 at the door). La Tentation will even serve breakfast at 6am (€5).

La Tentation

For something a little more mellow, the Sounds Jazz Club is hosting New Year’s Eve festivities with New Orleans style music. This is a great, small jazz club in Ixelles (28 Rue de la Tulipe) that I wrote about in this post a little while back.

And last but not least, you can see the annual fireworks display on the Grand Place at midnight. Head to Mont des Arts for a good view over the city and night sky.

Fireworks Brussels

For a complete listing of all that’s happening on 31 December, see the list of New Year’s Eve parties (in French).

Whatever you decide to do this New Year’s Eve, I wish you a very happy celebration and start to 2013!

Images via La Tentation, Libertine Supersport and BBC.

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Isaac Cordal @ Harlan Levey Projects

Last week I joined an evening hosted by the American Brussels Network at Harlan Levey Projects (HLP), a gallery in the Dansaert area, to see the works of Spanish-born artist Isaac Cordal. I first discovered Isaac’s unique form of sculpture back when I wrote a post about street art in Brussels. Although his miniature installations are set mostly in urban landscapes, they are much more than your average form of street art. Isaac sculpts small statues from clay, mainly businessmen, makes silicone molds of each, and finally casts them in cement. He then positions them alone or in groups to form powerful images he captures on film. The effect is moving, provocative and sad, with a touch of dark humor.

Isaac Cordal

Isaac’s current exhibition at HLP is entitled ‘Prestige’, after the oil spill off the coast of Spain which polluted thousands of kilometers of coastline. The show includes new works and a full look at his project ‘Cement Eclipses: Small Interventions in the Big City’, which has been previously exhibited in public locations and art spaces around Europe. Isaac has recreated one of his installations from the series Waiting for Climate Change that portrays somber-faced men in suits with life preservers on the beach. I find it fascinating the way he manages for the figurines to appear life-size among the landscapes he photographs.

Isaac Cordal

Isaac gave us a brief tour of the exhibition, explaining the concept behind his work and the political and social commentary he hopes to convey. Works include a family sitting on a sofa each individually immersed in a mobile device, a group of stockbrokers on the verge of falling off a cliff and my favorite, a lone man sitting in the corner looking down a hole in the floor (be sure to look for him as he’s easy to miss!). There is also a screen showing several of Isaac’s previous works in cities including Brussels, London, Berlin, Riga, Zagreb, Malaga, Vienna and Barcelona.

Isaac Cordal

The exhibition opened back in November and has been extended to 9 January 2013. Many of the works, including prints of many of Isaac’s previous photos, are for sale at the gallery (priced under €100). You can also purchase a copy of his book Cement Eclipses, a great collection of photos from the series (€20). If you’re interested to check out more of Isaac’s work, see the Street Art Belgium page on him or read this Agenda Magazine article.  

Isaac Cordal

The HLP gallery is run by American Harlan who works with a small selection of contemporary artists to hold solo and group exhibitions, performances and workshops. HLP also participates in other activities including local events like Downtown Gallery Days, lectures and an annual exhibition with The United Nations. See more about upcoming events on the website.

37 Rue Léon Lepage, 1000 Brussels
Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 1-7pm and by appointment 

Images via Street Art London and Agenda Magazine.

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Holiday celebrations & shopping

I can’t believe it is almost December! And of course with the start of the month, comes the start to the holiday season. Here are a few ideas of things to do this weekend to start your Christmas shopping or just get into the spirit of things.

First up, Les Nocturnes du Sablon is an annual celebration on the Grand Sablon square with Christmas decorations, music and food. Belgian design students have created a display with fir trees, each sponsored by one of the stores around the Sablon, and the best creations will be auctioned off on 1 December at 8pm for charity. There will also be music all weekend long, from classical to jazz to DJs (see the full program here). As part of the Brusselicious year, local chefs from some great restaurants (e.g. Le Chalet de la Forêt, Sea Grill) will prepare “gourmet street food” for sale every day for €8 a portion. The festivities start tomorrow evening at 7pm and continue Friday (12-11pm), Saturday (12-11pm) and Sunday (12-5pm). There is no entrance fee.

Also starting this weekend is the biggest Christmas market in Brussels – Plaisirs d’Hiver / Winter Wonders. The market includes 2 kilometers of shops in little chalets between the Grand Place and Place Sainte Catherine, as well as attractions like a giant ferris wheel and skating rink. There are loads of tasty treats and drinks to sample while you wander around the area. This probably isn’t the best Christmas market in Europe, but it’s a good one if you don’t want to leave the city. You can also see the “unique” electric Christmas tree on the Grand Place. Avoid popular times like Saturday and Sunday as it can get very crowded. Starts on 30 November and runs through 6 January.  

And last but not least, you might want to check out the Brussels Vintage Market this Sunday at Halles Saint Gery from 12-7pm. Usually held the first Sunday of every month, this special Vintage Market is celebrating Saint Nicholas with vendors offering vintage toys and other goodies. There will be another Christmas edition of the market on 15-16 December (12-10pm) where you can shop for all sorts of holiday gifts.

Images via Visit Brussels,, Brussels Vintage Market.

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