The city of Brussels is bursting at the seams with music. There is such a wide array of events and outlets, for all genres and tastes, that you can find people from all over the world looking for a music fix. From a traditional concert venue experience to a cozy and intimate night at the bar, here are 10 places a music lover must experience in the city of Brussels.
This cozy and low-key bar is a great way to ease into the live music scene. Located on Rue des Riches Claires in the city center, Café Floreo offers music almost every night. From soul to funk, jazz to hip hop and DJ sets, this venue delivers. Wednesday nights include jazz jam sessions; audience members are invited to bring instruments and share their skills. Café Floreo is a fun, informal, and affordable night out on the town.
The spring months will shower you with talent through the Flemish music festival, Stoemp! Set in small venues, cafés, and bars like Café Floreo all around the city, these concerts are free to the public. “Cozy, warm, and intimate” is the prevailing atmosphere of this small-scale festival. Stoemp! locks onto no specific genre; its only goal is to support up-and-coming musicians.
Jazz lovers, look no further than the Sounds Jazz Club, located in the Ixelles neighborhood on Rue de la Tulipe. This establishment is as authentic as it gets, with a warm atmosphere and an international line-up. Maroon velvet curtains line the stage where concerts are held Tuesday through Saturday. Every Monday, the club puts on a show that is followed by a master class and jam session with the performer. Entrance fees are low and reasonable, and there’s a selection of delicious Italian meals and homemade cocktails to go with the show.
Juke Box proudly holds the title of ‘oldest record store in Brussels.’ This iconic record store carries old, new, and extremely rare records. It is run by 65-year-old Jean-Pierre, who also directs the annual record fair in Galerie Ravenstein. Vinyl junkies will find heaven in this record store.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
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Set in the heart of Brussels, this jazz club and café is home to the Bravo Big Band, a large jazz ensemble comprising passionate and talented musicians. You can find this band and many others playing at Bravo for little or no cost. Shows run every day, and for those who are itching to play some tunes, Bravo also offers free jam sessions a couple times a week. This venue provides a unique vibe with its humble café and secret jazz club in the basement below.
Looking for something a bit more large scale than a secret jazz club in the basement? The Ancienne Belgique, also known as AB, is a concert venue equipped for the masses. It may not be a stadium venue, but AB’s Main Hall has room for at least 1,800 standing attendees and over 200 seats. Big and small names have taken the stage in the Main Hall at AB, such as Lenny Kravitz, Halestorm, and Iron & Wine. For a more intimate experience, the AB Club Stage also offers 280 spots, where international and local artists perform, such as Zita Zwoon, The White Stripes, and MGMT. Many gifted musicians roll through AB’s doors, so be sure to keep updated on who’s coming next.
What used to be the center of botanical studies, known as the Jardin de Botanique, is now a booming concert hall hosting over 280 shows a year. Le Botanique is arguably one of the most beautiful buildings in Brussels. It is composed of three halls for three different experiences: The Rotonde is a theatrical hall meant for 125 to 250 guests for an acoustic and intimate setting; the Witloof Bar is a 200-person, café-type hall built with beautiful arches and columns that divide up the space of the room; and the Orangerie is the largest hall in the Botanique, with up to 700 standing places or 350 seats where audiences can enjoy everything from film screenings to concerts to seminars. (Local Tip: Go to Arsene 50 to find discounted tickets. Tickets are half price at 2:00 p.m. every day.)
Once finished staring in awe at the façade, guests to the Musical Instruments Museum (MIM) will discover four galleries inside that take them on a journey through the history and evolution of musical instruments. The museum also houses a concert hall, museum shop, restaurant, and a legendary view of Brussels at the top. The MIM participates in the Museum Night Fever, during which, for the cost of one ticket, guests gain access to 24 museums, including the MIM, and an epic night of performances in dance, various workshops, and live music.
Hours: Tuesday to Friday 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday (and on holidays) 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Brussels International Guitar Festival & Competition
Sponsored by Her Majesty the Queen, the Brussels International Guitar Festival hosts talented guitarists from around the world, who flock to the city of Brussels to take part. This festival features premiere guitar concerts at the Brussels Royal Conservatory and master classes, lectures, exhibitions, and an international guitar competition at the Théâtre du Vaudeville. The competition is open to all classical guitarists of any age and nationality who are not working with an agency. Five prizes are awarded to the top candidates. This is a unique opportunity for guitar enthusiasts and music lovers alike.
BOZAR has a simple mission: to include art in the culture of the city and make it a part of life. It strives to give each and every person who walks through its doors a holistic art experience. BOZAR serves all types of art including film, theater and dance, literature readings, and, of course, live music. You will find yourself in good hands at BOZAR, listening to music from the top classical and brass ensembles. Concerts are held frequently.