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Antwerp's 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals Of Summer 2014
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Antwerp's 10 Unmissable Events and Festivals Of Summer 2014

Picture of Sally Pidgeon
Updated: 9 February 2017
Diamonds and design put Antwerp at the cutting-edge of the world stage, but we suggest digging a bit deeper to discover Belgium’s second city through arts and culture this summer. From fashion exhibitions to legendary music festivals, from jazz to techno and from art to theater, this Dutch-speaking metropolis can easily rival the cultural calendar of Brussels. Here are ten of the best events to enjoy in Antwerp in summer 2014.

Music | Tomorrowland

18 – 20 July and 25 – 27 July

The aptly-named Boom is a town on the outskirts of Antwerp boasting one of the world’s biggest festivals for electronic beats: the unforgettable Tomorrowland. Famous for its psychedelic atmosphere full of surprises, such as stages floating on a lake and flowers falling from helicopters flying above the crowd, the line-up conjures a mix of some of the best electronic music makers and DJs of the moment, with the added sub-genres of trance, house and rave, just for serious festival fun. This three-day extravaganza is such a sell-out that the organizers decided to run it twice, over two weekends in 2014, for its 10th anniversary – double the dates, double the music.

Tomorrowland, PRC de Schorre, Schommelei, Boom, Belgium

Never a dull moment at Tomorrowland | Image courtesy of Tomorrowland

Art | Antwerp Pride and Queer Arts Festival

7 – 10 August

Belgium was the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, so naturally, Antwerp is one of the most tolerant cities for gay rights and the acceptance of gay lifestyles. Every August, Antwerp Pride promotes a fun-filled parade bursting with the colors of freedom and the all-out pleasure of pure partying. Everybody is welcome to join in the four-day celebrations but for some extra-special events it is best to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment. Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, however, will be free for all to enjoy during the festival closing. In the run-up to Antwerp Pride, there is also the Queer Arts Festival, offering music, film, literature, theater and dance performances, with contributions from as far afield as Chile and Shanghai.

Various venues across the city.

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Music | Jazz Middelheim Festival in Den Brandt Park

14 – 17 August

Belgium is big on jazz, but location is not everything for live music lovers at the Jazz Middelheim festival in Antwerp’s stunning Den Brandt Park. This child-friendly event held every August is a four-day dazzling array of internationally renowned artists delivering, undoubtedly, the finest contemporary and classical jazz, to suit the connoisseurs and entice novices. Launched in 1969, the long-running festival has welcomed the likes of Belgium’s legendary Toots Thielemans and America´s Ahmad Jamal. The 2014 line-up sees the winner of 14 Grammy Awards Herbie Hancock sharing the stage with Wayne Shorter Quartet. Expect Belgian beers and gourmet food served up country-style, in castle grounds, also home to sculptures by Rodin and Bourdelle.

Jazz Middelheim, Kastanjelaan 1, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 9 324 45 30

Art | Celebration of Rubens and Rubens House

15 August and all year round.

Antwerp’s best-loved painter, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, is especially celebrated mid-August at Rubensmarkt, an event held in and around the Grote Markt, the heart of the old city. The stunning square of 16th century architecture is brought to authenticity as it provides the perfect setting for traditional time travel back to Rubens’ Renaissance, with musicians playing their tunes in period costume and market traders beckoning to sell their wares above the crowd. Located just a short walk from the Grote Markt is the wonderful Rubens House, this ‘bold, lavish and stately’ residence and studio for five years. Designed by the painter himself, this is a must-see museum containing a collection of his works, which is open to the public all year round, with free visits on the last Wednesday of every month.

Rubensmarkt, Grote Markt, Antwerp, Belgium; and Rubens House, Wapper 9-11, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 201 15 55

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Art and Design | Birds Of Paradise Exhibition at MoMu Fashion Museum

Until 28 August.

For dedicated followers of fashion, there is no escaping Antwerp’s place at the forefront of international design, with its very own distinctive look, created by local fashion icons such as Dries Van Noten, whose presence was integral to the famous Antwerp Six. A trip to the fashion museum, MoMu, is a memorable occasion for anyone, anytime, as it houses an amazing collection, fusing yesterday’s fashion with today’s trends, never failing to overwhelm visitors with creative use of exhibition space. In collaboration with Maison Lemarié de Paris, 2014’s summer exhibition, Birds Of Paradise, shows off the elegant and refined use of feathers in fashion and haute couture. Prepare to be wowed by Marlene Dietrich’s iconic swan’s-down coat.

ModeMuseum (MoMu), Nationalestraat 28, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 470 27 70

ModeMuseum (MoMu)
Feathers add more than a touch of elegance | © MoMu/Boy Kortekaas | Image Courtesy of MoMu.

Music and Theatre | Antwerp Summer Festival

Throughout summer.

Anyone planning to spend time in Antwerp this summer, rest assured that the city’s full-on festival will provide at least some of the entertainment. Pulling more people in each year, the simply-named Zomer van Antwerpen (loosely translated as Summer in Antwerp) promises another glorious summer of ‘the most thrilling shows, the most enjoyable music and the best parties’, many of which are absolutely free. Even if the weather were to disappoint, nothing can dampen the Flemish festival spirit with theater performances, live music, storytelling and much more, making the most of Antwerp’s variety of indoor and outdoor venues, from ship hangars to circus tents, towering roof-tops to sun-trap terraces, as well as leisurely guided tours around Europe’s second largest seaport.

Various venues across the city.

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Music | Laundry Day Festival

6 September.

Another treat to tantalize the tastes of electronic music fans is Laundry Day, an annual event to round off the summer festival season every September, with no fewer than 11 stages, 120 DJs, and 65,000 party people. Belgium is a breeding ground for some of the most innovative movers and shakers of contemporary music, and this one-day event brings home some of the country’s best talent from the world’s dance venues, as well as pulling in other big international names. From midday to midnight, there is no need to pack a tent, and with public transport connecting the venue to the city center, the only thing to worry about is which after-party to head for later.

Laundry Day, Nieuw Zuid, Ledeganckkaai, Antwerp, Belgium

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Art | Lambermontmartre: Antwerp’s Open-Air Art Fair

Every last Sunday of the month throughout the summer.

Every year, Lambermontmartre offers a unique opportunity to view a vast display of artworks for sale in the open-air, in a bohemian atmosphere, reminiscent of Paris’s famous Montmartre –hence the exhibition’s name. More than 100 artists from the area and beyond show their work each year, from paintings to sketches and sculptures, photography to graphic design. The exhibition is held on every last Sunday of the month, from May through to September, in front of Antwerp’s Museum of Fine Art (closed for renovation until the end of 2017). Music performances accompanied by a bar serving refreshments help create a great environment for browsing, or picking out a personal masterpiece to take home at a modest price.

Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Leopold de Waelplaats 2, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 478 294 685

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Art and Design | Art After Identity Politics and Lonely At The Top Exhibitions at M HKA

Until 14 September and 5 October.

Antwerp’s Museum of Contemporary Art, M HKA, houses a permanent collection that includes works by Belgian and international artists, an art-house cinema, as well as an extensive library of books on film from pre-cinema to present day and visual art from 1970 until now. Summer 2014 allows visitors to explore a major group exhibition, Don’t You Know Who I Am? Art After Identity Politics; and Lonely At The Top, ‘a place for dialogue’ whereby four established artists each introduce the work of a lesser-known talent who, in turn, talks about the established artist’s work. The M HKA is an impressive space that is actually a converted grain silo built in 1926 – a vivid reminder of southern Antwerp’s once-thriving port activities.
M HKA, Leuvenstraat 32, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 26 099 90

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Photography | Shooting Range: Great War Photographic Exhibition at FoMu

Until 11 November.

Antwerp’s photographic gallery,FoMu, is home to an impressive rotating program of exhibitions, film projections and lectures throughout the year. Past exhibitions include Henry Bond’s Interiors Series, as well as a retrospective of the work of revolutionary Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. The 2014 summer exhibition, Shooting Range, has been organized in commemoration of the Great War, when photography was used for the very first time to record large-scale conflict on celluloid and film. This fascinating focus on how the still image was used in newspapers, magazines and postcards, or for military work, shows century-old originals, propaganda, and anti-war films of the time.

FotoMuseum (FoMu), Waalsekaai 47, Antwerp, Belgium, +32 3 242 93 00

An official photographer working for the Australian Imperial Force, Captain Herbert F Baldwin | © Imperial War Museum | Image Courtesy of FoMu.