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The Comic Strip Festival's biggest draw: a balloon extravaganza featuring all your beloved paper heroes | © E.Danhier, courtesy of visit.brussels.be
The Comic Strip Festival's biggest draw: a balloon extravaganza featuring all your beloved paper heroes | © E.Danhier, courtesy of visit.brussels.be
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Brussels' 2016 Comic Strip Festival: What To Expect

Picture of Nana Van De Poel
Updated: 20 December 2016
Hometown to Tintin, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke and many more of our favorite paper heroes, and even with a museum dedicated to the city’s rich comic strip history, it seems almost like a birthright for Brussels to have one of Europe’s most famous comic strip festivals. The 2016 edition at the beginning of September promises yet again to be a joyous occasion with a dizzying amount of cartoon related activities. Here’s what to look out for.

From drawing workshops and author signing sessions in the international pavilion, to Europe’s only Balloon Parade and even a Tintin car showoff, the amount of things to do at the 2016 Comic Strip Festival can be mightily overwhelming. Let us guide you through the highlights of this year’s celebration of the ninth art.

From Friday, September 2nd until Sunday, September 4th, Brussels is promising cartoon enthusiasts a smurfin' good time | © visit.brussels.be
From Friday, September 2nd until Sunday, September 4th, Brussels is promising cartoon enthusiasts a smurfin’ good time | © visit.brussels.be

Massive Floating Spirou and Friends

Sunday is balloon day. A kid – and let’s face it, adult – favorite, the beloved Balloon Parade on the last day of the festival is the undeniable highlight of three days filled with cartoon joy. And, as a giant Garfield, Spirou, Le Chat and their friends take to the sky to conquer Brussels’ main streets, a brand-new mystery balloon is waiting in the wings to join in on the fun.

The Spirou balloon happily making its way through the city center | © visit.brussels.be
The Spirou balloon happily making its way through the city center | © visit.brussels.be

Become a Master Cartoonist

If you secretly dream of following in the footsteps of Brussels greats, such as Peyo, Morris and Hergé, make sure you step inside Atelier 24. Here you’ll learn how to sculpt a character using nothing but your imagination, how to draw inspiration from the world surrounding you, the key to drafting a story and the rules to designing a proper text bubble (it’s harder than you might think). Ben Dessy of Macadam Valley fame, Bruno Bertin of The Adventures of Vick and Vicky and many other professionals stand at the ready to teach you all the tricks you need in order to get your start.

No better place to have professionals teach you the tricks of the trade than Atelier24 | © visit.brussels.be
No better place to have professionals teach you the tricks of the trade than at Atelier24 | © visit.brussels.be

Real-Time Cartoon Magic

The festival will also present you with the unique opportunity to watch living cartoon legends do what they do best. Artist Frank Pé, of Little Nemo fame and known for his realistic drawings and love of the animal kingdom, will be creating a ten-meter wide mural in the Comixothek, where you can pop by at any time to see this Brussels-born talent flex his sketching muscles. Artists from guest-of-honor Quebec will use their imaginative powers and pencils to inspire a live improv performance.

Watch authors and illustrators creating the comics you love on the spot | © visit.brussels.be
Watch authors and illustrators create the comics you love on the spot | © visit.brussels.be

Tintin Cosplay and Glorious Old-Timers

Hergé used to love evoking real cars and motorcycles in his comics, which is why over 80 existing old-timers can be discovered in Tintin’s adventures between 1946 and 1988. This quirk has inspired the Comic Strip Festival’s second most anticipated event: the Tintin Rally. Any driver with a Bugatti type 37, Ford Model T or other car jumping out of Tintin’s pages is welcome to compete for the prize of most faithful real-life replica of their car’s drawing. With two people allowed in each old-timer, this leads to a lot of glorious cosplay of the Tintin, Captain Haddock and even Snowy variety.

No place like the Tintin rally to make you feel as if Hergé's stories have come to life | © visit.brussels.be
No place like the Tintin rally to make you feel as if Hergé’s stories have come to life | © visit.brussels.be

The Brussels Comic Strip Festival will take place at locations across Brussels from September 2-4, 2016.