This weekend in Antwerp: 18th, 19th & 20th January

Friday

lolfLegends of Liondance begins at Permeke library today as part of the approaching Chinese New Year festivities. This is a colourful display of the lions which lasts until 10th February, and is free.

And if you fancy an old-school date, classic film The Italian job is on at Cinema Zuid. This is such a nice venue to watch classic movies, and -at 5 euros – much cheaper than the corporate cinema multiplexes. I recommend checking out the cinema, and their program. Cinema Zuid is in FOMU (the photography museum).

Saturday

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Eilandje

On Saturday afternoon, from 1pm the Astridplein (next to central station) will be transformed into a tulip field containing tens of thousands of tulips from Flanders: you can come and pick some for free, until 4.30pm.

Similar to the Leopold Sundays (see below), Artland sees galleries around the Eilandje area open their doors and also offer a New Year’s drink to visitors, as well as a chance to see the works on display in the art-spaces around MAS. Free, from 1pm -6pm

 

Sunday

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It’s the first Boeken Plein of 2019 at de Coninckplein in front of Permeke Library: second hand books, magazines, postcards and graphic novels for sale from 10am -4pm. This event takes place monthly on the third Sunday of every month.

Not far away around the Leopoldplaats area, it’s another Leopold Sunday: seven galleries open their doors simultaneously enabling you to enjoy for free a variety of local art exhibitions between 2 and 6pm.

The weather will feel pretty cold, but Friday and Sunday should have some periods of brightness. Possibility of showers.

Miscellaneous

This week I published a special post by Daniel McBrearty. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is a lively and fascinating account of the history, ideas and current expo behind the Plantin Moretus museum on the Vrijdag markt: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550.

January in Antwerp wouldn’t be complete without the BATS panto! This year it’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (oh, yes it is!)  at Theater ‘t Eilandje, and tickets are available via the BATS VZW website.

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Special post: How An Antwerp Immigrant Changed The World In 1550

NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.

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A trip to the Plantin Moretus museum (left) provided the inspiration for this guest post by Daniel McBrearty.

Are you deluged by data, fazed by fake news, or stressed out from trying to find a teaspoon of facts in a sea of information? What you need is some historical perspective, and Antwerp’s Plantin Moretus Museum is the perfect place to find it …

Christophe Plantin, a native Frenchman and Humanist who became a powerful Antwerp businessman, could reasonably be called the Steve Jobs of the 16th century. He founded one of the three most important printing presses in Europe, and by 1550 he was one of the biggest publishers in the world, with sixteen operational presses and employing fifty people. The technology he used, along with much of his considerable wealth and countless books, are lovingly preserved in the Plantin Moretus Museum, on the Vrijdagmaarkt.

As well as physical artefacts, the Museum has done a wonderful (and timely, given the impact of the internet on our own times) job of placing Moretus’s considerable influence in a historical context. Their current exhibition, “Baroque Book Design”, fuses the work of Rubens and others -as part of the city’s the publishing industry- with insightful observation on social conditions of the time.

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Antwerp was at the centre of an information revolution

After Plantin’s death, the business was taken over by Jan Moretus, his son-in-law, and the family continued to dominate European publishing for the next 150 years. The printing press was a real challenge to the Catholic church, which had relied on the inability of an illiterate public to interpret the Bible without the help of priests. Gutenberg’s invention broke forever that monopoly of belief.

Books – now twenty times faster to produce, and much cheaper- became more widely available. An information revolution as big as our own, was underway. Schools of language, medicine, science and religion serviced a knowledge-hungry public, and created huge demand, which the Plantin-Moretus family was more than willing to supply. With a technology based on pouring lead into stamped copper moulds to make type, which was then manually assembled into pages, their team of craftsmen produced, over several years, a staggering 500,000 copies of one small book of language exercises – this being just one of countless volumes from the house.

Revolutions of belief soon led to violence, followed by a formidable backlash from the Vatican. Europe was beset by rebellion and repression. Catholic Spain and the Protestant Netherlands went to war, and Antwerp caught right between them. As well as Bibles in many languages, The Plantin Press had been publishing translations of Latin and Greek philosophers, and works which spread new scientific research. But a crackdown from the church forced an end to the dissemination of such dangerous ideas. The Plantin-Moretus family, however, were clearly astute diplomats as well as businesspeople, managers, and technicians. Not only did they survive, they became at various times, official printers and typographers to the Dutch, the Spanish and the Church.

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The museum is also a favourite of my daughter

Then, as now, the real benefits of the new technology were not immediately felt by common people. In fact it took several hundred years, and much argument and bloodshed, before they led to real improvement in living conditions.

As well as his beautiful drawings and engraved copper plates, the Museum possesses many paintings by Rubens, who was one of the favourite illustrators used by the Moretus family. Everywhere you feel his portraits gazing at you. His subjects included (as well as the nobility and the clergy) workers at the house. For me, they show an honest astuteness which lesser artists lack – rather like a modern artist such as Milo Manara, he has the rare ability to capture something of the soul of his subjects.

Entrance to the Museum is inexpensive (6€ or 8€ depending on age), or free with an A-kaart. Staff are friendly and helpful, and on a weekday the space is fairly uncrowded. You can take refreshment in one of Vrijdaagmaarkt’s excellent cafes and restaurants and then stroll back in with no problem. Photography is permitted without flash.

So, if the internet revolution has left you dazed and confused, or if you simply fancy an entertaining, thought-provoking few hours, I highly recommend Plantin-Moretus Museum. After all, we’ve been here before, and it helps to be reminded of that.

Daniel McBrearty is a father, jazz clarinet and sax player, singer-songwriter and electronics whiz who has made his home in Antwerp since 2001.

Music website :  www.danmcb.com

Audio electronics : www.mcbeeaudiolabs.com

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Special post: Leandro Targon @ Hardrock Cafe Antwerp.

 

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Leandro Targon

 

Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?

I’m from Mendoza, in western Argentina. My city is the proud wine capital of South America and lays at the feet of the Andes.

I first came to Belgium in June 2016 for holidays and during that trip met my spouse, who is from the Netherlands. Ten months later we were married in Antwerp!

Tell us about your job.

I’m the Sales & Marketing Manager at Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. I simply love my job: I’m responsible for the 100% of the sales figures of our cafe (groups, leisure, corporate and individuals) and contracting with business partners. Being the spokesman and image of the brand in the Flemish region, I plan, budget and execute the yearly event calendar. I’m also responsible for the marketing communication of our cafe.

You are right at the heart of an area very popular with tourists. What’s that like and how is the tourism business faring in Antwerp at the moment?

We are indeed at the core of everything that happens in Antwerp. Tourism figures are growing considerably every year in the city, but at the moment there is a big focus on the business traveler, weekdays and weekend visitors from neighbouring areas who come mainly for shopping, people interested in the cultural aspects of the city, and plenty of foodies. Like many in the hospitality industry, we’re aiming for major growth in the long-stay leisure traveler segment, mainly the international one. That is certainly one big area of opportunity compared to other destinations in the Benelux, and hopefully with the increasing number of cruise ships calling at the port of Antwerp, there will be much better results.

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Leandro with Santa at the kids’ Christmas Breakfast

Can a place like Hard Rock be something that is both for locals and tourists, or do you think of them as being very separate demographics?

Combining the two of them is the exact key for what an authentically genuine Hard Rock Cafe must be. We are a worldwide well-known reference for tourists, and as such our cafes are an attraction. But the strength of our business resides in the local community; both Flemish and expats. Therefore our events and initiatives welcome everybody, without putting our guests into boxes. Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp is our house, and that’s how we like to be seen.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?

2019 is a year full of ambitions for us as a cafe. In March we will have been open for two years and that is something we’re immensely happy about. My personal and professional goal is to enhance our fans’ experience, and create genuine experiences that rock. Undoubtedly it will be an amazing year!

What do you like best about living in Antwerp, and what do you miss about your home country?

I totally love that Antwerp is such an international city; a hub for business, its also offers plenty of heritage and culture, as well as amazing shops and museums to visit, and I love the fact that is so beautiful. I’ve lived in many countries before coming here, and been out of Argentina for more than seven years… I wouldn’t say I really  “miss” something about my country because I receive visits from friends and family at least once a month, and I go to Argentina twice a year. The nature over there is breathtaking, so I try to reconnect with that every time I’m back.

Hard Rock Cafe is on Groenplaats, Antwerp.

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This weekend in Antwerp: last post for 2018

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Christmas wheel by the Schelde

A short post to bring 2018 to a close on Nessascityblog

The Winter In Antwerp season is well underway, bringing you winter warmers and festive cheer at various locations around the city, until the 6th January. If you have been in Antwerp for over a year, you will be familiar with the regular features of Winter In Antwerp, and will recognise many of them again this year, in their usual locations: skating on Groenplaats; the Christmas Market on Grotemarkt, Suikerrui and Steenplein; The Big Christmas Wheel (left) also on Steenplein, and the Winterbar on Groenplaats. This year the tubing (2 euros a ride) will be at a new venue: Astridplein. If you have kids, then the Spiegeltent and kids’ corner might be best for you -on Steenplein. The funfair stalls will be along the riverside as usual.

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Dokmarkt (Eilandje)

On the other side of the water, there’s Club Cabane Winter Edition, also with Christmas food & drink, a skating rink and a Christmas Market.

Dokmarkt on Fridays (3pm -8pm) would be a good way to start a Christmas weekend, and also handy if you are on a dash to get a last-minute Christmas tree (yes, they sell them).

De Studio have a number of arts activities for kids during their Kerst in de Studio season.

Last minute Christmas shopping? the shops are open in Antwerp on Sundays throughout December.

 

boot-811075_640If you are done with buying things, take a civilised Victorian walk instead- assembling from 1pm; starting at 2pm on Astridplein on Sunday; dress up (think Victorian/ Belle Epoque/ Victorian Steampunk/ Victorian Gothic/ Dickens) or come as you are to join and enjoy the walk.

For New Year’s Eve, I’ll be keeping Events in Antwerp updated with “oud en nieuw” events as much as possible, but if you are in town, then the fireworks on the Schelde, near the old town, are a popular option.

I’m stopping for Christmas now. Nessascityblog will be back in January 2019. Until then I hope you have a wonderful winter break, safe travels and happy times with friends, family and loved ones.

Thank you very much for reading and supporting Nessascityblog in 2018!

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This weekend in Antwerp: 14th, 15th & 16th December

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skating on Groenplaats

The Winter In Antwerp season has started, bringing you winter warmers and festive cheer at various locations around the city, until the 6th January. If you have been in Antwerp for over a year, you will be familiar with the regular features of Winter In Antwerp, and will recognise many of them again this year, in their usual locations: skating on Grote Markt; the Christmas Market on Grotemarkt, Suikerrui and Steenplein; The Big Christmas Wheel also on Steenplein, and the Winterbar on Groenplaats. This year the tubing (2 euros a ride) will be at a new venue: Astridplein. If you have kids, then the Spiegeltent and kids’ corner might be best for you -on Steenplein. The funfair stalls will be along the riverside as usual.

On the other side of the water, there’s Club Cabane Winter Edition, also with Christmas food & drink, a skating rink and a Christmas Market.

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Mekanik

Saturday

From 11-6pm at Mekanik store there is a Christmas sale of graphic artworks and illustrations by local graphic artists. Mekanik is Antwerp’s best-known store for . graphic novels, graphic series, animé, comics & more.

SNITT are at CostA on Sint Andriesplaats with a sale of second hand and vintage clothing from 11am- 4pm. This is part of the “Krijg de Klere” event:

Krijg de Klere is an event which asks questions about the textile industry and its impact. There will be activities which encourage and support a more environmentally friendly way of living, and of re-using what we already have. Come dressed in your favourite second-hand clothes, bring your second hand clothes for de Collectie and take part in workshops run by MoMU, a repair café run by Circuit Antwerpen, a speakers’ corner and more (music; drinks; food).

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At Het Roze Huis on Draakplaats, it’s a free film night, starting at 8pm and this month showing I Love You Phillip Norris.  Het Roze Huis holds free film nights on the third Saturday of every month.

Or if you’d like to be the star of the show (or even behind the scenes) head to BATS Little Theatre on Paardenmarkt from 8.30pm to find out more about English speaking theatre in Antwerp, at their Winter Wonderland Open Evening -also a great chance to find out about their upcoming panto: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in January 2019.

If you are ready for a full-on Christmas service with a Cathedral choir, then head to St Walburgiskerk at 8pm and enjoy the singers of the Portsmouth Cathedral Choir at this Christmas Concert. It’s free, but if you are certain you will be attending, you can reserve a place via this link.

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Sunday

Regular book-lovers’ secondhand market on de Coninckplein in front of the library from 10am: books, comics, etc and (if you are in that area with children) in the Permeke itself, it’s the read-aloud story hour in the library at 11 (free) for kids aged 4-8 (in Dutch).

More secondhand goodies in the Parkloods, courtesy of Goegekregen and the Christmas edition of their successful secondhand, retro and vintage markets. Free in, from 9am -6pm.

For shoppers -the shops are open in Antwerp on Sundays throughout December.

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Alas, it looks likely to be rainy again this weekend, particularly on Saturday and Sunday, and temperatures slightly colder than last weekend -down to 2 degrees on Friday; up to 6-8 degrees over Saturday and Sunday.

Miscellaneous

Two recent special posts: this guest post all about an Italian home-run business called Whisk & Scoop. Have a look if you haven’t read it yet: it’s a must for lovers of authentic Italian food.

heart-1348870_640… and the previous week Nessascityblog also had a guestblog post: a super-handy A-Z of LGBT Antwerp, listing bars, clubs, festivals, community groups and more -by Timothy Junes of Be Out.

 

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De Warmste Week

De Warmste Week (The Warmest Week) is an annual week of fundraising and charity events taking place across Flanders. If you wish to organise an event or activity you can do so and register it via the website. For more fundraising events, look for the Warmste Week logo (left). Charity runs are a big part of De Warmste Week and you can now register for the Antwerp Run which takes place on the 21st December. The first step is to pick the cause you would like to run and raise money for. You can do this as a group or an individual, and will need to be able to make a minimum donation of 15 euros when you register to participate.

If you are looking for carol services in English (also beyond Antwerp) this is a very helpful link from Discovering Belgium blog

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This weekend in Antwerp: December 8th, 9th & 10th

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Wishing Wall at Antwerp Christmas Market

It’s here! This weekend sees the start of the Winter In Antwerp season, bringing you winter warmers and festive cheer at various locations around the city, until the 6th January. If you have been in Antwerp for over a year, you will be familiar with the regular features of Winter In Antwerp, and will recognise many of them again this year, in their usual locations: skating on Grote Markt; the Christmas Market on Grotemarkt, Suikerrui and Steenplein; The Big Christmas Wheel also on Steenplein, and the Winterbar on Groenplaats. This year the tubing (2 euros a ride) will be at a new venue: Astridplein. If you have kids, then the Spiegeltent and kids’ corner might be best for you -on Steenplein. The funfair stalls will be along the riverside as usual.

Saturday

Opening of Winter in Antwerp (see above)

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On Krugerplein from 6pm there will be a winter camp fire, music and warming winter “stoofpot” (stew) to coincide with a local winter market at De Kleine Wereldburger school (from 2pm – 8pm).

Berchem Schittert is an end-of-year winter event on Plein aan de Vredestraat, starting at 4.30pm. The festive lights will be turned on, and there will be a fire show and a small Christmas market

Sunday

Markt van Morgen offers a way of doing your Christmas shopping that is a little less stressful than the main shopping areas and a bit more likely to support local businesses and their products. Check out the Christmas edition on Kloosterstraat from midday.

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Permeke Library

Another means of escape from the hubbub would be Leopold Sundays: eight galleries around the Leopoldplein area open their doors for art lovers between 2 and 6pm. Annie Gentils, Artelli Gallery, (re)D., Geukens & De Vil, mariondecanniere, Philippe Piessens, Keteleer Gallery and Next Door are the galleries taking part in Leopold Sundays.

It sounds like an unlikely venue for such an event, but Meatpack is hosting a Vegan Christmas Market from 11am -10pm. 3 euros entry (under 12s go free).

Kids may like this free pompom making activity from 11am- 1pm at Permeke Library.

For shoppers -the shops are open in Antwerp on Sundays throughout December.

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Weather could be a bit mixed this weekend. It’s not freezing cold yet (temps around 9- 11 degrees) however, there could be light rain, on and off over the weekend.

Miscellaneous

This week on Monday I was delighted to press this guest post all about an Italian home-run business called Whisk & Scoop. Have a look if you haven’t read it yet: it’s a must for lovers of authentic Italian food.

heart-1348870_640… and last week Nessascityblog also had a guestblog post: a super-handy A-Z of LGBT Antwerp, listing bars, clubs, festivals, community groups and more -by Timothy Junes of Be Out.

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De Warmste Week

De Warmste Week (The Warmest Week) is an annual week of fundraising and charity events taking place across Flanders. If you wish to organise an event or activity you can do so and register it via the website. For more fundraising events, look for the Warmste Week logo (left). Charity runs are a big part of De Warmste Week and you can now register for the Antwerp Run which takes place on the 21st December. The first step is to pick the cause you would like to run and raise money for. You can do this as a group or an individual, and will need to be able to make a minimum donation of 15 euros when you register to participate.

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Special post: Buon Appetito!

 

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Pasta dishes prepared by Whisk & Scoop

 

 

In this week’s special post I had the chance to pose some questions to talented cook, Luisa Melandri, co-founder of Whisk & Scoop  with Alessandra Bianco who brings authentic tastes, aromas and gastro- experiences all the way to Antwerp, from her home country of Italy- delizioso!

Hi, Luisa! Where are you from and what brings you to Antwerp?
I’m from Ravenna, a small city in Emilia Romagna.
I arrived in Belgium almost 10 years ago with my family, accompanying my husband who came to work here.

I know you have always been a food-lover. But when and why did you decide to turn it into a business?
I’m definitely a food lover, especially good food! My family and the people in my life – in Italy and Belgium – have always appreciated my cooking style: simple and traditional. Living abroad, I couldn’t help but notice that even what was branded as Italian was not always truly so. So, I asked myself why not try to share my simple and traditional approach with others?

One of the things I’m known for is my ragù; commonly known here as Bolognese sauce. This is actually what started it all. I make it for others like I would do for my family: fresh, simple, flavourful and full of love – the qualities which make Italian food so good! So, when I met Alessandra, who also  shares these values, we thought why not spread the love? And that’s how Whisk & Scoop was born!

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Luisa (left) & Alessandra in the kitchen

Tell me about what Whisk & Scoop does.
Whisk & Scoop is how we bring a little bit of Italy to our community, and we want everyone to know what that’s like! While I (the scoop) mainly deal with savoury dishes, Alessandra (the whisk) does desserts and sweet treats. She’s quite the artist, making beautiful and delicious cakes, pastries and cupcakes. My specialty is lasagna, which at this point in the year will warm your heart and your belly.


heartdessertFOur main activity at the moment is preparing food on request. Lately we have also organised small lunches and tasting sessions where we show our customers how to prepare simple,  traditional dishes from various regions of Italy. We began by preparing pasta with pesto and farinata from Liguria. Our next session will be inspired by Piemonte, as Alessandra is from Torino. We’ll be preparing bagna caudia and porcini risotto. All the recipes we prepare have been passed down from generations, and with Alessandra’s roots from Campania and mine from Toscana, we can guarantee authenticity and tradition.

Do you think food has a special role in bringing people together? How does that work in expat communities?
We say that people are happiest at the dinner table with good food, good company and good wine. I believe food brings people together, which is the basis of our culture and many others and this is what we want our customers to experience. Especially in expat communities, it is the elements of assimilation and cultural exchange that allow others to get to know a little more about yourself and vice versa. What you like says a lot about yourself and -as the saying goes- you are what you eat!whisk&scoopF

Which of your dishes are especially popular with customers?
My specialty, as mentioned, is lasagna while Alessandra’s is crostata, a jam tart. What’s also very popular at the moment are her egg-free treats.

If you could choose one dish that you love, or which represents you, what would it be?
The dish I love most is rigatoni with a good tomato sauce because it’s simple, nourishing & filling.

Give us a quick, easy recipe to enjoy over the festive season!

flag-1486376_640Nonna Leon’s Pasta ai Fagioli
1. Finely minced parsley, 1 garlic clove and half an onion and fry them in 3 tbsps of olive oil until golden.
2. Add half a can of borlotti beans, 1.5L of water and 3 tbsps of tomato paste
3. Cook for 30 minutes on medium-high heat
4. Using a hand-mixer, blend until smooth
5. Add the remaining borlotti beans and Maltagliati pasta and cook for 10 minutes
6. Season to taste and plate up!

                                             & ENJOY!

All pics courtesy of Whisk & Scoop

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This weekend in Antwerp: 30th November; 1st & 2nd December

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Book Sale at Zuiderpershuis

All weekend: at Zuiderpershuis there’s the annual book stock sale over the whole weekend. It’s free in and there are some English books, as well as other books (e.g. children’s books) which make good presents if you are one of these organised people who is ready to do some Christmas shopping already. It’s free in, open from 10- 18h on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I went last weekend and picked up a few bargains.

Friday

Light up your bike for the dark nights and the festive season: it’s Critical Mass, as usual assembling on Theaterplein at 6pm for an hour’s biking through the city. This month with the theme of bike- lighting. Be seen!

China Light at Antwerp Zoo opens today,  until the 13th January. It’s an event that my kids always enjoy -just make sure you wrap up warm and check the weather so that you go on a night when it won’t be raining! You can order tickets online via the hyperlink.

Offering local food products and a chance to start your weekend with a glass of Cava and a tasty locally produced snack – it’s Dokmarkt at Eilandje from 15h -20h.

Saturday

vinylOver on the other side of the water, the Linkeroever winter program is starting, with a variety of winter events, continuing until the 12th January.

Vinyl lovers can start their Christmas shopping at Het Bos (Ankerrui 5-7, 2000 Antwerp) Record Fair -it starts at 1pm and is free in.

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And if you are looking for a British style Christmas Fair, it’s the The Mission to Seafarers Christmas Bazaar at the Antwerp Harbour Hotel, Noorderlaan 100, from 11am -16h.

Sunday

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so shops will be open on Meir and other shopping areas in town (Kloosterstraat, Nationalestraat) for Sunday shopping; in fact, throughout December, shops are open every Sunday in Antwerp (9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th).

If your children are excited about Sinterklaas in Grand Bazar shopping centre (from 13h -15h) and on walkabout round Meir from 15.30 – 18h.

Weather might not be as cold as last weekend (11-12 degrees) but there is a high chance of showers on both Saturday and Sunday.

Miscellaneous

heart-1348870_640Surely you didn’t miss the Nessascityblog guest post earlier this week?! If so, have a look -it’s a super-handy A-Z of LGBT Antwerp, listing bars, clubs, festivals, community groups and more -by Timothy Junes of Be Out.

And hot on the heels of that one -next week another special post: all about a talented Italian lady who brings the authentic taste of her homeland to Antwerp – a must for lovers of real Italian food. And if you have been thinking about writing a post for Nessascityblog, do seize the day -I’d love to hear your Antwerp story, or hear about an aspect of Antwerp life that you know well. Drop me a line at nessascityblog@gmail.com.

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De Warmste Week

De Warmste Week (The Warmest Week) is an annual week of fundraising and charity events taking place across Flanders. If you wish to organise an event or activity you can do so and register it via the website. For more fundraising events, look for the Warmste Week logo (left). Charity runs are a big part of De Warmste Week and you can now register for the Antwerp Run which takes place on the 21st December. The first step is to pick the cause you would like to run and raise money for. You can do this as a group or an individual, and will need to be able to make a minimum donation of 15 euros when you register to participate.

Don’t forget: for Sinterklaas -The Belgian postal service (Bpost) will deliver children’s letters and drawings to the Sint (until 29th November) -details and address here. NB -be sure to write the child’s name and address on the outside of the envelope, so that the Sint can reply and send a surprise.

Yes, it’s December already and that time of year is fast approaching and the Winter In Antwerp website is now up!

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The Ultimate A-Z of LGBT+ in Antwerp

The Ultimate A-Z of LGBTQ in Antwerp.

A guest post by Timothy Junes

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Timothy Junes (left) was born in Antwerp (1981) and still lives and works  here. He studied journalism and has written for LGBTQ media since 2000, both online and in print. His passions include LGBTQ news stories and travelling to new places. Nowadays he runs the Flemish language LGBT news blog Be Out and the English language travel blog Trip By Trip.

*

Antwerp has a long history of being a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in Belgium. Let me introduce you, using the alphabet.

First, I’ll start with a disclaimer: this is not a ‘Complete Gay Guide to Antwerp’. That would be impossible since Pink Antwerp is constantly changing. Some blame the internet, some blame the economy and gentrification, some blame youth. There are many factors as to why LGBTQ oriented bars and cafés come and go. I should point out here that bars and cafés mostly cater to gay and bisexual men. Presently there’s no lesbian bar in town.

A

Active Company is Antwerp’s LGBTQ sports group. From athletics to swimming, from cycling to yoga, Active Company has it all. A great way to make friends.

Antwerp Pride is a highpoint of LGBTQ life in Antwerp. Four to five days to party, parade or attend a debate. Mark the second weekend of August in your calendar.

Coupled with Antwerp Pride, there is the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. Exhibitions, performances, parties. While Antwerp Pride is more ‘party oriented’, the queer arts festival is more activist. Both work well together. First half of August.

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MAS museum lit up in Pride colours

B

The Bonaparte at the Grote Markt is a karaoke bar. But with a gay owner, it won’t surprise you there are drag nights and gay parties. Pannekoek on Sundays.

D

I’m not sure the managers of Den Draak like to call their bar a gay bar. Patrons are both LGBTQ and straight. It will throw a very gay Eurovision Song Contest viewing party, and it will also celebrate the Red Devils, Belgium’s football team.

Located at the Draakplaats, it’s very well integrated in the hipster, somewhat leftist neighbourhood of Zurenborg.

Café DeLux at Melkmarkt 16 is in the middle of it all. DeLux is what you could call a ‘mainstream gay bar’. Coffee and tea during the day, alcohol at night. Don’t forget in Belgium a café could both be a coffee and snacks place, and a bar!

E

Enig Verschil is the LGBTQ youth group of Antwerp. Flanders has a tradition of youth groups outside the scouting movement. For many LGBTQ’s in Flanders, such youth groups were a starting point.

F

Are you a student? Why not join De Flamingo’s? Student clubs in Belgium are not really like American style fraternities; they’re more open.  

H

H.I.M is a more or less monthly party concept. H.I.M is really ‘club scene’ as you’d imagine it: beats, shirtless men, flirting… People come from far and wide to attend.

The Hessenhuis at Hessenplein opened its doors in 1993. During the day it serves as the cafeteria of the event space Hessenhuis, but around 6PM the atmosphere changes and it becomes a gay bar.

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Het Roze Huis – çavaria Antwerpen (pictured above) is both a brick ‘pink house’ and an umbrella organisation for LGBTQ groups and associations in the Province of Antwerp. It organises the Antwerp Queer Arts Festival and L-week.

Each January, Het Roze Huis holds a New Year’s reception under the bridge of Draakplaats. An absolute must-attend event for LGBTQ’s in Antwerp. Beware! Due to engineering works on the bridge, the New Year’s reception will for once take place at De Roma. Mark 5 January 2019 in your calendar.

The offices are above Den Draak.

K

The Antwerp gay scene is not shy of kinky spots. The Boots in the Van Aertdtstraat and The Kinkys in de Lange Beeldekensstraat are too nice examples.

L

Leather & Fetish Pride Belgium in February accommodates lovers of leather, fetish and kinks. It consists of parties, socials and a fair. Darklands includes shops, workshops and activities for leather, fetish and kinks. If you open your eyes, you will definitely see men in leather, rubber and other fetishwear in the streets of Antwerp. The event mostly caters to men, but not exclusively.

There may not be L*-oriented bars in Antwerp but you can attend L-week in November. Ten days filled with activities, workshops and parties for women who like women. The asterisk stands for a broad interpretation of the word lesbian.

Q

Que Pasa in the Lange Koepoortstraat 1 is a latin drag queen bar. It organises performances and drag contests. It’s near one of the rainbow crossings.

R

The Red & Blue was founded in 1997. Nowadays it’s called Cargo Club but ‘Red & Blue’ remains its gay brand. It’s the obvious party location and an icon in Antwerp.

S

Sjalot & Schanul is a lesbian run restaurant behind City Hall. The address is Oude Beurs 12.  

SPEK (“bacon”) is a queer, ‘alternative’ party concept. Electro tunes, booze, cigarettes, other substances. Attracts queer, leftwing, hipster crowd.

Café Strange in the Dambruggestraat is the oldest, still open gay bar in town. Manager Armand Everaerts is well in his 80s but still serves you cheap beer. A special place.

Strangelove – A Queer Festival is a June based event. It combines film, performances and parties.

T

T-day is a day of activities, workshops and meet-ups for trans* people, their friends and their families. It is organised by çavaria, the Flemish LGBTQ umbrella organisation.

Café Twilight used to be located in the Van Schoonhovenstraat or Rue Vaseline. In the 20th century, the Rue Vaseline is where all the action happened. Twilight closed there but rose like a phoenix at Theaterplein.

U

The Unicorn Festival in July is not an exclusively gay event, but with such a name it clearly attracts LGBTQ people and their friends. Belgium is famous for its numerous summer festivals and Unicorn is one of them. It’s small but very cosy. It’s on Linkeroever (Left bank) and offers a great view of the Antwerp skyline.

 

All photos by Timothy Junes.

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 23rd, 24th & 25th November

Lego
Brickmania

At Zuiderpershuis there’s the annual book stock sale over the whole weekend. It’s free in and there are usually some English books, as well as other books (e.g. children’s books) which make good presents if you are one of these organised people who is ready to do some Christmas shopping already. It’s free in, open from 10- 18h on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and is also on next weekend too.

Also over both Saturday and Sunday, it’s another popular annual event: Brickmania – a must for Lego fans of all ages. Note, it’s at a different venue this year; not Waagnatie but Antwerp Expo. You can get tickets for 5 euros in advance (they are 7 euros if you buy them on the door) and kids up to 6 years old go free.

Friday

Buurthuis t’Pleintje is holding an Autumn Market  for the first time. On sale will be local handmade and craft products and foods, from 15h -20h. Syrian food is on the menu while you browse the stands which will offer products such as local honey, scarves and accessories, soaps, household items, candles, stationery and more.

Also offering local food products is Dokmarkt at Eilandje from 15h -20h.

Saturday

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Swaajp guest: Jacintha Damstrom. Photo by Quentin Le Gall

After Brickmania, or a day at the book sale, you might like to head to BATS Little Theater on Paardemarkt for an evening of impro theatre with Swaajp. Their guest this week is Jacintha Damstrom, who will bring an element of circus excitement to the show.

Sunday

It’s Dag van de Wetenschap today (Science Day) and Antwerp has a wide and varied programme of activities in various locations.

At De Roma Theatre there’s a kids’ rommelmarkt from 13.30h -17.30h. The kids themselves are the stallholders, and will be selling all sorts of children’s toys and books, so go and support them and pick up a bargain. It’s only 50 cents in for kids, and a euro for grownups.

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Dag van de Wetenschap

 

Another second hand market by Goegekregen will take place at Park Spoor Noord (in the shelter where Bar Cargo is). It will be on from 9h -18h and also promises street-food and drinks.

More second hand bargains at Plein Publiek (now up and running at its new location) with this Closet Sale from 10h- 16h.

Weather is mixed -Friday might be quite bright and pleasant (9 degrees), but there may rain on Saturday, and both Saturday and Sunday will be colder (only 5-7 degrees)

Miscellaneous

Next Wednesday is the last Wednesday of the month, so city museums are free (the Plantin Moretus, the Rockox, the Museum Mayer van den Bergh, the MAS and the Red Star Line Museum).

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I am really delighted to let you know that a special guest-blog post is on the way. Watch this space -especially if you’d like to know more about LGBTQ+ life in Antwerp: an LGBT+ special; posting on Monday! And if you have been thinking about writing a post for Nessascityblog, do seize the day -I’d love to hear your Antwerp story, or hear about an aspect of Antwerp life that you know well. Drop me a line at nessascityblog@gmail.com.

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De Warmste Week

De Warmste Week (The Warmest Week) is an annual week of fundraising and charity events taking place across Flanders. If you wish to organise an event or activity you can do so and register it via the website. For more fundraising events, look for the Warmste Week logo (left). Charity runs are a big part of De Warmste Week and you can now register for the Antwerp Run which takes place on the 21st December. The first step is to pick the cause you would like to run and raise money for. You can do this as a group or an individual, and will need to be able to make a minimum donation of 15 euros when you register to participate.

 

 

Don’t forget: for Sinterklaas -The Belgian postal service (Bpost) will deliver children’s letters and drawings to the Sint (until 29th November) -details and address here. NB -be sure to write the child’s name and address on the outside of the envelope, so that the Sint can reply and send a surprise.

I am interested in doing a post about Antwerp Apps. Do you use one? What does it do? Which devices is it compatible with and what do you think of it?

Bargain hunters -did you know that Antwerp has a Last Minute Ticket Shop? Well you do now. You can buy last-minute reduced cost tickets from 12- 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays, for shows, concerts, theatre performances etc.

Yes, that time of year is approaching and the Winter In Antwerp website is now up!

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