10 Ways To Beat The January Blues In Brussels

Ivo Dimchev, FB Theatre / © Ivo Dimchev, Kaaitheatre
Ivo Dimchev, FB Theatre / © Ivo Dimchev, Kaaitheatre
Photo of Yana Pargova
20 December 2016

January sometimes tends to bring us down, but this year you don’t have to give in to the blues. Whatever is causing your long face, beat it by going on a date with the city. Lucky for you, we’ve got a whole month worth of ideas on how to have a good time in Brussels during the winter season.

Cinéma Galeries / | © Yana Pargova

Cinema calling

Find out what movies are showing in cinema this month, get dressed and go out to enjoy a perfectly good evening in the company of another reality. Our picks include the brilliant anti-utopia The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos , Paolo Sorrentino’s beautiful Youth, the award winning Son of Saul, Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies and the new Tarantino film The Hateful Eight. With the start of the new year comes a whole new selection of long-awaited movies for 2016, such as Carol, The Danish Girl, and The Revenant. What’s more, Brussels offers a great variety of movie theaters to suit every mood, from multi-screen complexes like UGC and Kinepolis to charming independent and art house cinemas like Cinéma Galeries and Cinematek.

UGC Cinemas, Brussels, Belgium

Cinéma Galeries, Galerie de la Reine 26, Brussels, Belgium

Cinematek, Rue Baron Horta 9, 1000 Brussel, Belgium

Stefantiek / © Yana Pargova

Stefantiek / © Yana Pargova

Go vintage

Instead of relapsing into the January sales craze, get a cool vintage addition to your home. Browse the antique shops in the Marolles and the flea markets at Jeu de Balle and Sablon. Buy a cool communist radio that still works, a vinyl from another era, a weird looking bedside lamp, a beautiful porcelain tea set, an old wooden table scarred by hand-written love letters, or an armchair soaked with past moments of quiet contemplation.

Ancienne Belgique / | © Yana Pargova

Enjoy a musical night out

Because there’s simply nothing quite like live music, Indie fans shouldn’t miss the second edition of The Sound of the Belgian Underground, organized by Subbacultcha and Ancienne Belgique. Taking place on 31st of January, the festival presents ten alternative music acts from Belgium playing everything from techno, electronic, pop, and punk. Lovers of electronic music should go party a day earlier at the first event for 2016 brought by Deep in House. The cool location for the former Belgian post offices along the canal will host several DJs for 12 hours of rhythmic beats.

Waterstones / | © Yana Pargova

Brush up on your reading

It’s time to release the stress built up by those few books that you never seem to finish and start fresh with some new quality reads. Go to Waterstones, the English language book haven in Brussels, and take your time by browsing the pile of recommended reads, and then move on to the fiction section and walk slowly from A to Z. Read for a bit in the cozy armchairs scattered around the bookshop. Move on to the second floor to pick your next travel destination, find a new hobby, or get a beautifully crafted photography album.

Waterstones, Boulevard Adolphe Max 71-75, Brussels, Belgium

Ivo Dimchev, FB Theatre / © Ivo Dimchev, Kaaitheatre

Ivo Dimchev, FB Theatre / © Ivo Dimchev, Kaaitheatre

Explore innovative performance art

The Kaaitheater arts centre is the place to go and experience contemporary performance art in Brussels. Drawing from multiple disciplines like dance, theater, and music Kaaitheater showcases the best of the Belgian and international contemporary art scene with an emphasis on experimental and innovative works. In January, you can indulge in Ivo Dimchev’s offbeat performance ‘FB Theatre’ co-created in interaction with the audience and therefore always a surprise; explore the topics of love and betrayal in ‘Betrayal’ directed by the Turkish-Belgian theater-maker Mesut Arslan and staged in a décor installation designed by Lawrence Malstaf; experiment with the unrehearsed performance of Ant Hampton’s ‘The Extra People’ exploring the illusion of collectivity; and follow the language of body expression and movement in the two dance solos ‘Shapeless’ and ‘I’m Sorry It’s (Not) A Story’ by Charlotte Vanden Eynde.

Midi Market / | © Yana Pargova

Visit the local farmers’ market

There’s nothing better on a weekend day than going to the farmers market in your neighborhood and stocking up on fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious meat and fish, olives and cheese. Add to that the charm of crowds, hyperactive merchants and the abundance of exotic scents, and you’ve got a perfect day. If you are at Flagey’s market, grab lunch from one of the food trucks, and Midi’s market is famous for delicious wraps with cheese, olives, dried tomatoes, and honey, served with hot tea. In Place Jourdan, don’t miss the cute Italian coffee joint. In any case, spend a few hours there and pile up on good vibes and good food.

Jazz / | © Yana Pargova

All that jazz

Jazz is taking over Brussels this January. The second edition of Brussels Jazz festival takes place in Flagey from 13th to the 23rd of January featuring, among others, Lisa Simone, the Igor Gehenot Trio, Tord Gustavsen and the Brussels Jazz Orchestra. At the same time, River Jazz festival brings together more than 50 musicians in three cult jazz venues in the Belgian capital – Marni, the Jazz Station and Senghor. Take your pick!

Via Via / | © Yana Pargova

Spend an afternoon playing board games

Who doesn’t love board games! Get a group of great friends together and snuggle in a cozy café like Via Via or Le Pantin where you can take your pick of games, neatly stacked on the shelves. Simply spend a lovely afternoon of doing nothing but reliving your childhood memories with games like Chess, Backgammon, Monopoly, and Scrabble . Via Via also hosts spontaneous live performances of musicians and enthusiasts, while Le Pantin is known as a place where you can easily meet strangers, so you never know how your day might turn out.


Take an art tour

This is your last chance to visit several intriguing exhibitions that are closing soon, so hit refresh on your art history lessons and check out our selection. The project ‘Ugly Belgian Houses’ by Hannes Coudenys is presented in Recyclart; the magic of Istanbul is showed through the eyes of photographers, writers, filmmakers, musicians in ‘Imagine Istanbul’ at BOZAR; the unusual and often unclassifiable Belgian art of the 20th and 21st century is explored in ‘I Belgi. Barbari e Poeti’ in Vanderborght; The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium and the Louvre Museum come together to present over 70 contemporary works that question our future in ‘2050. A Brief History of the Future’; ‘Pop Art in Belgium!’ gathers major pop art works from international and Belgian artists in the ING Art Center. A must for devoted art lovers are also the BRAFA Art Fair and the Affordable Art Fair, which both place between late January and early February.

Botanique / | © Yana Pargova

Plan your year in music

Concert tickets in Belgium sell out super quickly, so now is the perfect time to check out the 2016 agenda of our favorite venues Ancienne Belgique and Botanique and stock up on those stubs. Among the names we can’t wait to hear live in concert are Daughter, Grimes, The Maccabees, Flying Horseman, Suede, Kodaline, Half Moon Run, and The Libertines. It’s also worth to canvass the bands you haven’t heard of – you would be surprised by how many gems are hiding out there.

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