An Indian summer of culture

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Festival des Libertés
Published at 16/12/2021
By Carmen

You just can’t get enough of that holiday feeling… Nothing is easier than reliving your favourite trip in the Belgian capital. The African Matongé neighbourhood, the Asian commercial district around La Bourse, the Portuguese eateries in the Forest, St.-Gillis, and Ixelles triangle… The atmosphere immediately catapults you into another world. The most exotic cultural centres and associations are at home in Brussels. Are you more of a Spanish Costas or exotic train journey type of person? K-Pop or Fado? You'll find it all in no time!


Who hasn’t dreamt of taking a long, exotic journey by train…? There are some legendary train routes all over the world, but the Orient Express grips our imagination just that little bit more. As part of Europalia, Train World is making way for some majestic coaches from Wagons-Lits, the railway company owned by Belgian Georges Nagelmackers. An abundance of nostalgia, but with due attention paid to the social and political context that explains the birth of the luxury train.

Tracks to Modernity (Europalia 2021) Ivo Pannaggi, (1901– 1981), Un Train en marche, Huile sur toile, 1922 Fondazione Cassa Di Risparmio Della Provincia Di Macerata - Museo Palazzo Ricci inv. X.2011.903

Starting this autumn and running until 15 May 2022, Europalia will not put a particular country in the spotlight this year, but rather the fascinating world of the train. Trains & Tracks looks at the impact of the train on society, past and present. You can visit the usual cultural institutions for numerous exhibitions (Tracks to Modernity, at the Royal Museums for Fine Arts and projects, but this year stations and trains are also transformed into unexpected stages for concerts, slam poetry, literary encounters, performances, and operas.

Discover the full programme here


Fondation A Stichting is known for exhibitions with a documentary approach. The work of young photographer Massao Mascaro is full of scorching sunlight on the shores of the Mediterranean. Far from the cliché images of the ideal holiday, in Sub Sole, you get a glimpse of the day-to-day reality of the many young people who seek a better life. In the age-old setting of the Odyssey, they radiate joy, their eyes full of expectation and hope. Two girls braid each other’s hair. A phone is being charged at an old, weathered power socket. A broken sundial freezes time between the past and the present…

New Brighton, England, GB, 1985© Martin Parr/Magnum Photos

In Hangar, on the other hand, you can feast your eyes on the Brits’ ‘ideal holiday snaps’. Faces burnt and red, fish and chips in Spain, sunbathing behind the giant tracks of an excavator… with Martin Parr, social criticism is a fact, but his humour is always soothing. His subjects burst out of the picture full of colour; they are illuminated with a flash. Emotions are not shunned. Boredom, (childhood) sadness, and resignation are present, but so are a lot of party fun and joy. Parr’s images are so deeply human that you can’t help but smile.


It’s only a small step from photography to film. Specialised film festivals pay tribute to multicultural Brussels. Cine Luso highlights the most diverse Portuguese-speaking cultures and nationalities. Brazilian theatre-maker Julian Boal has been invited to be guest coordinator and make his mark for a month. This year’s audiovisual programme questions the themes of freedom and power (which are more relevant than ever!). This results in some 30 films and exhibitions, workshops, film debates, concerts, book presentations, and a multidisciplinary artistic residency.

Korean Film Festival

Catch the festive edition of the Korean Film Festival at Bozar and Cinéma Galeries. Twenty films on the fitting theme of ‘Friendship’ celebrate the 120th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Belgium and Korea. A strong selection of feature films and shorts, documentaries and animated films shed light on Korean culture (for example, the musical phenomenon that is K-Pop) in various focus programmes. Various personalities from the Belgian film industry have chosen their favourite Korean film especially for this edition!

pARI - Festival Cinemamed

Festival Cinemamed returns to warm our hearts in December, when thick coats and jumpers have long replaced that holiday feeling. Discover the best Mediterranean films in the cinemas of Palace, Aventure, and Bozar. The festival includes an international competition, new films, themed screenings, documentaries, debates with international guests, concerts, parties and a Mediterranean market to satisfy your hunger. And if you really don’t want to leave the house… you can attend online at!


Throughout the year, CINEMATEKis the place to be for pure evasion with its gem-filled programme of film history, silent films with live piano, and themed cycles. For a small price, you can immerse yourself in the universe of international masters of the seventh art. Steve McQueen, Yasujiro Ozu, and Claire Denis have already been mentioned, but don’t worry: in the coming weeks and months, documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, actress Laura Dern, and filmmakers Pedro Costa and Pier Paolo Pasolini will also join the programme!


Bruneaf (Brussels Non-European Art Fair) is the reference for non-European art. For thirty years, the event has brought art treasures from all over the world to international attention. In January, the prestigious Sablon neighbourhood will once again be the setting for the fair’s Winter edition. A captivating tour of specialised galleries brings connoisseurs and budding enthusiasts together for an exotic treasure hunt. Among the carefully selected statues, masks, jewellery, ritual and everyday objects, you are guaranteed to find the ideal ornament. 

BRAFA (Bruxelles Art Fair)

BRAFA (Brussels Art Fair) was scheduled to take place at Tour & Taxis from 23rd to 30th January 2022, but has been postponed due to the worsening health situation. It will take place in Brussels Expo, from 19 till 26 June. The art fair is one of the oldest in the world and guarantees high-quality and rare pieces dating from the Bronze Age to the present day. Among the twenty specialisations, we can find a wonderful selection of objects from classical archaeology, tribal, pre-Colombian, and Asian art. Please check the website for the last updates on a possible alternative edition.

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