The summer festival season has started! Every year in July and August, thousands of festival-goers travel the country to make the most of the great sounds in Werchter, Dour, Ardentes, Pukkelpop or the unmissable Tomorrowland. While Brussels lacks the mega spaces (and car parks) to handle such events, there are still plenty of places for locals to go. Places where Belgian start-ups increasingly play their part...
Brussels Summer Festival – BSF
14 to 18 August – Place des Palais, Parc de Bruxelles, Mont des Arts, etc.
The musical event lighting up the Brussels summer since 2002. A multicoloured festival with different styles, reflecting the multicultural quality that enlivens daily life in Europe's capital. Both popular and insightful, and always fun, friends and families flock here to enjoy well-known artists or discover local and international gems. It's a typically Brussels festival, hard to describe but which surprisingly attracts all ages.
Bruxelles les Bains
6 July to 12 August – Quai des Péniches and Quai Béco, next to Place Sainctelette
Between Tour and Taxis and the new Kanal museum, both sides of the canal, linked by a temporary bridge, copy the Rio de Janeiro spirit, giving locals the very best city beaches. Children and adults are welcome to enjoy a range of varied activities completely free: deckchair sunbathing, dance, sport, games, open-air movies, etc. All can be enjoyed with a cocktail or exotic dish at the ready. As for night-life, clubbers can head for the Archipel, the hottest summer spot.
4 to 7 July – Grand Place, Parc Royal, Sablon
The Ommegang, which means "parade", carries on a medieval tradition and honours the arrival of Charles V in Brussels in 1549, with a huge spectacular re-enactment organised at the Grand Place on 4 and 6 July. At the same time, many events take place from 4 to 7 July, including equestrian tournaments in Parc Royal and a crossbow competition in Sablon (4 and 6 July). During the festival week, medieval markets pop up in the city (one behind the Stock Exchange) and the event's official beer, Ommegang Charle Quint, is readily available. Many celebrities take part in this demonstration of Brussels folklore.
Every Thursday in summer from 5 to 11 p.m. until 6 September
Every Thursday in summer, the Anderlecht abattoirs transform into a gigantic afterwork party, stoked by DJs and fed by food trucks. Come with chums and colleagues to listen to music, dance, network, snack, have a drink or do a bit of shopping... It all happens at a convenient time, with the doors opening at 5 p.m. and closing at 11 p.m. The weather's not a problem: the place is fully roofed! A secure car park is available nearby. A truly popular party with no hangovers!
7 & 8 July at the Green Theatre in the Atomium park
For more than 40 years, this Folk & Jazz festival has paid homage to the great names of the genre in the leafy setting of the Green Theatre, located in the heart of Osseghem Park, a stone's throw from the Atomium. There's a family atmosphere and plenty of activities to keep children happy during the concerts. As well as the entertainment, food trucks are available to fill the hunger gaps! And it's cheap and free for children. It's a great idea for a family outing in early July!
9 July to 30 September at the Château du Karreveld
The Bruxellons festival is all-summer theatre in Brussels! A daring gamble which for 20 years has found a setting to suit its aims: the amazing Château du Karreveld in Molenbeek, a little gem hidden in a park. Theatre, musical comedy, magic, humour, visual shows, amateur competition and more, all the performing arts are represented with 18 shows sharing eclecticism and variety. Without doubt a unique cultural experience to be enjoyed in the mild Brussels summer. Good to know: a buffet meal is available before the shows, by the lake or in the château... You said royal?
The Brussels Guinguettes
All summer in many Brussels parks
Originally from the Paris suburbs, guinguettes were light establishments, kiosks or huts, often installed in parks or near waterways, where all Paris came to dance, drink and eat on sunny weekends. Today, the tradition of these popular spots is reborn and flourishes throughout the parks of Brussels. These include Guinguette Gisèle at the Abbaye de la Cambre, the Woodpacker in the Bois de la Cambre, Buvette Sint-Sebastiaan in Parc Josaphat, Guingette Maurice in the Cinquantenaire or the Parc de Forest Guingette, etc.
Start-ups and festivals mix well
Start it @KBC, KBC Group's start-up community, is a sign: today festivals and major events increasingly call on start-ups to support their organisation or stewardship. A matter of polishing their image, innovating and responding to an aware public's increasing demands. Some examples: Technological and stylish earplugs from Loop, healthy food from Karma Karma, fun activities from Funkey, 100% natural instant premix drinks from Drink it Fresh or the event carpool app from CovEvent for example.
Mobile payments: very practical for events!
Walking around with cash is out-of-date. Today, mobile payment solutions let you pay almost everywhere with your smartphone. Whether you want to pay back a friend, pay for things in a shop or buy your food and drink tickets at events. The Payconiq app, which is free to download, is accepted in many shops and at most major festivals. Make life easy!