20 things to do in Belgium this summer, including 11 essential festivals

We’re going to be taking a small break from our weekly agenda, and to make up for our short hiatus we’ve put together a more concrete summer agenda full of weeklies and festivals. So no excuses, go Do the Right Thing.

28th June – 16th July: School’s Out For Summer at ARGOS, Brussels

Highly innovative, and one of the country’s finest art film and video centre do not just dedicate themselves to the archival preservation and collection of film, but are also keen advocates for showcasing contemporary talent. This summer they’re inviting the public to witness the short and medium-length films produced by recent graduates of Belgium’s numerous film schools. Open doors between Wednesdays and Sundays, the films are put on loop for maximum efficieny. Go show some love.


29th June – 1st July: Trojan Summer in Belgium

Antwerp’s quirky art collective Sorry is kicking off the summer season with a three-day tour of release parties throughout Flanders and Brussels, with a series of live electronic performances. And as if that weren’t enough, they’ve cooked up other sets of events to be held throughout the proceeding months, like the open exhibition Het Testen van de Nieuwe Warmte, or their boozey bike ride Chaos-Yoga. Start the summer right.


29th June – 27th July: SLCTR at Jane’s, Brussels

Already having been launched in June, Ixelle’s newcomer Jane’s new series of soirées SLCTR invites not-so-obvious yet still relevant faces from the local music scene, to spin some of their favourite records. Even if DJ-ing might not be their bread and butter, these figures have plenty of love for the craft, and have got quite a few tricks up their sleeves. This week’s being manned by our very own editor-in-chief Nicholas Lewis, and future dates are set with Céline Gillain and Jean Pierre Lespagnard. Treat yourselves.

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29th June – 4th August: Holidays Summer Festival at Recyclart, Brussels

Whilst many of our cultural institutions are rightfully closing its doors for a well-earned break, Recyclart are upping the ante with their jam-packed summer agenda filled with live music and art exhibitions. From a collaborative night with capital-based youth centre JhMj DAR, to a a showcasing for Belgium-based French artists in light of Bastille Day. God bless Recyclart.


30th June  – 31st July: Instore shows at Balades Sonores, Brussels

The Belgian sister-charter of Parisian record store Balades Sonores embarked itself earlier this year on hosting numerous cosy, intimate in-store shows with local talents. Previous appearances ranged from Zwangere Guy to local label Midlife, whilst the month of July has Phoenician Drive and Le Pacifique founder Aidons Antoine on the decks. Essential.


1st July: Panorama at Terril des Hiercheuses, Marcinelle

Hosted by non-profit Rafales together with cultural institutions Le Vecteur, Eden and Rockerill, Panorama is held on one of the many slagheaps that border Charleroi, offering sprawling views of the surrounding landscapes. A free festival, this year’s line up at the time of going to press included Brussels’ Monolithe Noir and French emo-synth pop by Word favourite Regis Turner. Top pickings.


1st – 2nd July: Fortune Festival at BRASS, Brussels

The second edition of the enigmatic Fortune Collective’s festival takes place once again at Brussels’ BRASS cultural centre and, much like last year, the team continues to leave tongues hanging with its forward-thinking line-up. Think France’s TGAF DJ crew, Spain’s new wave dancehall MC Bad Gyal, PC Music’s Kane West and a ton of other shape-shifting, boundary-breaking artists.


6th – 15th July: Gent Jazz at De Bijloke, Ghent

A festival that looms large on the summer circuit – especially for jazz, funk and soul heads – Ghent’s Gent Jazz Festival has developed a reputation as a solid festival for connoisseurs – the jazz, funk and soul pack – it’s programme consistently bringing some of the world’s most reputed musicians to the city. And, true to fashion, this year’s line-up doesn’t disappoint, with a mix of both established (Herbie Hancock, Grace Jones and Wayne Short, to name a few) and emerging (Kamasi Washington, Makaya McCraven, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Robert Glasper and our very own Stuff.) talent take to stage for over nine days of, well, vibes.


7th July – 31st August: Seven Chances at Het Bos, Antwerp

Antwerp food collective Otark Productions’ Charlotte Koopman has devised a fun ice cream menu for Het Bos’ brand new ice cream parlour Seven Chances, which will be accompanied by a series of events. Wednesday nights will see DTM Funk’s curated line-ups – from Le Motel to Tapes From Africa’s DJ Katapila – whilst Sunday afternoons are dedicated to the local scene’s darlings. We all scream for ice cream.


8th July: Ptit Faystival in Petit Fays

For its 14th consecutive edition, the team behind Ptit Faystival bring the cream of the crop of experimental acts to the unlikely location of Petit Fays, just outside of Namur. This year’s edition sees Parisian indie ensemble Villejuif Underground, the UK’s hypnotic drum duo Rattle, traditional Ardennaise cuisine and local village DJ New Sensation all combine for what is guaranteed to be another memorable day out deep in the Belgian countryside.


9th July: Crossroads at Parc des Étangs / Vijverspark, Brussels

With each new year comes a new festival. And so it is with Crossroads, a daylong festival held at the city’s Parc des Etangs just underneath a highway overpass and entirely dedicated to Detroit techno. Organised and hosted by clubbing institution Fuse, this debut edition features a killer line up with the likes of Robert Hood and DVS1 as well as local heroes A. Brehme, Handless DJ and Fuse’s very own Pierre.


9th – 15th July: CINEA Summer Film School at Cinema Zuid, Antwerp

Brussels-based Flemish Service for Film Culture – aka CINEA – is dedicated to promulgating Flemish film history and heritage. A keen partner of national archive centre Cinematek, they’ve organised a hefty two-parter Summer Film School festival. Partly an hommage to legendary Iranian film-maker Abbas Kiarostami, and partly a celebration of classical Hollywood comedy; CINEA has impressively squeezed 15 lectures and 20 screenings into a mere seven day programme. Think of it as a sort of cinema boot camp.


27th July – 17th August: Helden in het Park at Heldenpark, Eeklo

With (fingers crossed) heavy bouts of summer sun this year, sunshine music is essential – and thankfully Helden in het Park have that covered. The N9-organised city festival have invited numerous reggae, afrobeat, roots and cumbia acts to perform across four Thursday evenings in Eeklo’s central park. Not to be missed.


4th – 6th August: Microfestival in Liège

One of the cosiest and quaint festivals in Belgium, Liège’s Micro festival delights year-in year out with its unpretentious and family-friendly festival, a two-day gathering centred around an independent-leaning and eclectic line-up. Although at the time of going to print no acts had yet been announced, we’d suggest making a move on grabbing yourself a set of tickets as this one’s known to sell-out in a minute.


5th – 6th August: Absolutely Free Festival at C-Mine, Genk

At the risk of sounding cheap, the best thing – other than the line-up – about Absolutely Free Festival is, as its name suggests, the fact that it is, erm, free. And with this year’s edition underpinned by a somewhat more socially-engaged approach – entrance is allowed to people that bring three used batteries, for instance – the festival manages to remain as relevant as ever despite its 10 years in the game. Bringing both local (Hypochristmutreefuzz and The Germans) as well as international (The Notwist, King Khan & the Shrines, amongst many others) acts to the city of Genk, the festival continues in its quest to bring top-notch music to the people.


11th – 19th August: Visite at Het Bos, Antwerp

Het Bos-based film collective (and coffee-aficionados) De Imagerie are back with their second bout of Visite for this year, and the third edition all-round. Over the course of nine days, Visite will be presenting nine different projects with little recognition it deserves, as well as inviting the specific film-makers to not only discuss their work, but also bring along films which were sources of inspiration for themselves. Never shying away from tricky topics, it’s a pleasure to see some deeply inquisitive films in Visite’s programme; including the much-acclaimed Christina Stuhlberger’s Malapascua. Not to be missed.

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21st – 25th August: Feëerieën at Warandepark / Parc Royale, Brussels

Always one to pack the odd surprise or two, L’Ancienne Belgique returns to its beloved outdoor series with a concept that somewhat strays from the usual. Indeed, for this year’s edition, the local institution handed out carte blanches to a handful of artists with the aim of entrusting them with curatorial duties. And, if the first names announced are anything to go by, we’re in for yet another scorcher of a stage. Top of our list is a Prìncipe label night that sees Portuguese contemporary electronica heroes DJ Marfox, DJ Nigga Fox and Nidia Minaj perform. Can’t wait.


8th – 9th September: HORST Festival at Kasteel van Horst / Château de Rhode-Saint-Pierre, Holsbeek

Perfectly combining electronic music with contemporary art, HORST festival – nestled on the grounds of a gated caste surrounded by water just outside of Leuven – has consistently delighted festival-goers with its tight line ups and transdisciplinary take on the festival experience. This year’s edition features both established and lesser-known although nonetheless exciting acts, from Motor City Drum Ensemble and Funkineven to Nosedrip, Red Greg and Wwwater. What’s more, our very own Word DJs and selectors (Offshore§, Nobuo and Nicholas Lewis) will be manning the decks at the festival’s camp site, so make sure to come through and say hi.


8th – 10th September: Deep in the Woods in Heer

A favourite amongst young families, this festival held at the start of September delights by mere design, its entire concept centred around its magical location deep in the heart of the forest of Heer. Beyond its unique setting, the weekender also distinguishes itself through its broadly-defined line-up – US-based singer-songwriter Waxahatchee, revered Belgian musician Mauro Pawlowski and Monolithe Noir were all confirmed at the time of going to press – as well as its holistic take on festivals, one which includes yoga sessions, a series of promenades and, wait for it, saunas. Tickets tend to go fast so grab them whilst you still can.


8th – 10th September: Meakusma Festival at Alter Schlachthof, Eupen

Known for its exquisite tastes, the Meakusma tribe returns to the festival stage with the second edition of their three-day schedule of off-kilt electronic music deep in the Eastern fringes of the country, at the crossroads between the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. With a line-up that reads like a who’s who of the avant-garde and contemporary, this year’s bill includes Roman Hiele, Spencer Clark and Lieven Martens (all of which will be performing a special set together), Errorsmith, Vladimir Ivkovic and, a personal favourite of ours, pianist and composer Dominique Lawalrée – a precursor of musique concrete in Belgium, marking his long-awaited return to the stage. Essential.