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

HERE’S THE GOOGLE MAP WITH THE LOCATIONS FOR THIS POST!

All weekend

There are two ongoing events taking place this weekend both in really nice areas of the city, so it’s a good chance to explore one or both of these neighbourhoods

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Zuiderburen (literally, southern neighbours) takes place (unsurprisingly) to the south of the centre and is a free street festival centred on the area which incorporates the kaaien, and Leopold de Waalplaats (in front of MUHKA). It’s a festival of music, sport, culture and food, with activities for kids too.

Part of Antwerp is a 10 day festival celebrating the port area of the city. It is focussed on the area from Eilandje, taking in Schengenplein, Sloepenweg, Red Star Line Museum … up to the Zaha Hadidplein (at the new port of Antwerp building). Expect events which celebrate the city’s status as a major port, as well as food, music and parties in this much gentrified and historic area of the city. See the full program here.

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Port of Antwerp – Zaha Hadid building

Friday

Aper’eau  joins forces with Part of Antwerp festival to begin the program with their usual brand of open-air drinks and music on Zaha Hadidplein from 5pm.

Saturday

There’s a Free film showing at Het Roze Huis at 8pm. This week it’s BPM (aka 120 battements par minute)

Kilo Verkoop is a different way of buying vintage and second hand clothes -by the kilo. This sale takes place at HAAR (in conjunction with Goegekragen) on Montevideostraat from 2pm.

Screen Shot 2018-09-12 at 20.45.46The Klappeistraat Rommelmarkt will be something of a street party as well as chance to pick up bargains. The street will be car-free from 9am, and the “Klappei Bar” will open at midday to further encourage the festive atmosphere.

It’s the opening night BATS variety show (see below for details and tickets)

Sunday

Antwerp Car Free Day is an annual event which my family and I always enjoy. Between 10am- 6pm the  city centre and surrounding streets are car-free, and replaced by a variety of stalls and activities which centre pedestrians, kids, cyclists, skaters and loiterers. Start on Meir and see where you go from there. Here’s the full programme. Enjoy experiencing a car-free Antwerp. Great for kids, with some surprising and fun alternative ways to travel around city streets .

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Autovrij (car free) Antwerp

Boekenplein on de Conninckplein is a regular monthly fixture for secondhand book lovers and browsers -from 10am -4pm.

Goegekregen (second hand market) is yet another opportunity to get your second hand, vintage and retro bargains; this time in Stadspark. A huge and very sociable occasion, with a decent food and drinks stand too. From 9am -6pm.

The weather this weekend should be warm and dry again -Sunday should be really warm, maybe going up to 24 degrees.

Antwerp Art Fair is coming to Antwerp Expo in October and I will have 5 pairs of tickets to give away to Nessascityblog readers, so watch this space for more info and a chance to win soon!

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Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 20.27.00Miscellaneous

Recently I pressed Buskers and Street Musicians in Antwerp  a guest blog post by Dave Llewellyn, now returned to Scotland who played music in the streets of Antwerp between 1998- 2012: read all about his fascinating memories of our city.

Get in touch if you have an Antwerp story to tell!

 

Click here for Bats Variety show info & tickets. “Around The World” opens this weekend, on Saturday night.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 7th, 8th & 9th September

Part of Antwerp starts this weekend, although most events take place from next weekend, and I will post again about it next week. It’s a series of events over September which centre on the Port and the Eilandje area of the city. Eilandje is always a great area to visit or take guests -if you are recently arrived, it is the area where the well-known MAS museum is situated; there are also lots of nice bars and cafés around the water.

Here is the GOOGLE MAP for this weekend’s post.

Friday

Flying PigStart your weekend with Flying Pig who are on Bolivarplaats from 5pm until midnight – got to make the most of what might be the last chances to enjoy al fresco drinking…

For a more old-school event try the Bal van de Bevrijding (Liberation Ball) on Groenplaats. It’s on from 5pm and is free. Dress retro to join in with the spirit of the occasion and to commemorate the liberation of Antwerp in 1944.

Saturday

Following on from the Liberation Ball, there are also Remembrance ceremonies for the Liberation of Antwerp all over Antwerp this weekend (starting at the monument in the Stadspark at 10:00 on Saturday) and a tattoo on the Grote Markt on Saturday evening with marching bands from the US, Russia & Belgium..

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It’s the annual Damse Feesten around the Dam area of Antwerp: a neighbourhood street party with fun competitions, a flea market, performances and kids’ fun in streets near Park Spoor Noord (Lange Lobroekstraat, Twee Netenstraat and Ijzerlaan) from 9am, with the last performance starting at 8pm.

If you have children interested in theatre, take them along for some taster sessions at BATS VZW to meet the Pipistrelle Youth Theatre.

Paardenmarkt 111, Antwerp
12.30 – 14.00 Group 1. 7 – 10 y
14.15 – 15.45 Group 2. 11 – 14 y
16.00 – 18.00 Group 3. 15+

And a must for skaters: the Belgian Skateboarding Championship (BK Skateboarden) from 10am on the Jordaenskaai.

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Sunday

Heritage Day or “Open Monument Day” (Open Monumentendag) takes place across Flanders, with plenty to see and do in Antwerp. You can see the cultural centres and monuments which open their doors for free in the Antwerp area here -there are over 100 of them!

Markt van Morgen are on the Kloosterstraat again from midday until 6pm -you can find jewellery, stationery, household goods and accessories for sale.

There’s a second hand market on Dageraadplaats from 9am -6pm. This is also a good local square to know about, with a play area for kids, and numerous bars with terraces.

The roller-skating at the Dageraadplaats was fun -come and enjoy a similar event on Krugerplein this Sunday at 2pm.

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Miscellaneous

This week I pressed Buskers and Street Musicians in Antwerp  a guest blog post by Dave Llewellyn, now returned to Scotland who played music in the streets of Antwerp between 1998- 2012: read all about his fascinating memories of our city. Get in touch if you have an Antwerp story to tell!

BATS do shows in English. Their variety show “Around The World” is coming soon. You can read about it and order tickets here.

The weather this weekend should remain warm and dry with temperatures between 18- 22 degrees, and some clouds.

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Antwerp memories: buskers and street musicians in Antwerp – a guest post by Dave Llewellyn

Dave Llewellyn was part of the scenery on the streets of Antwerp between 1988 and 2012. Before the Metro played recorded music if you walked through Diamant, Plantin or Groenplaats the chances are you threw a couple of Belgian Francs (or latterly Euros) into his guitar case. Dave not only knows so many of the stories and the people who inhabit the Diamond City but is interwoven into many of them, as Antwerp became home for him and the families he started on the banks of the Schelde. Here he writes about his experiences and memories of his time in Antwerp:


My love affair with Belgium started with a portion of stoofvlees in Ieper that made it impossible to get the boat back to the UK from France, as we all got really bad food poisoning. Recovering before my family did, I realised that I really liked Belgian people so instead of heading for Oostende, I turned east towards the Diamond City arriving on a Thursday in 1988 just in time to rent a tiny flat on the Kattenberg in Borgerhout, from the priest on the Laar. I remember it was a Thursday because when I went out to get my car the next morning it had been replaced by hundreds of market stalls. Welcome to Belgium!

I had been a busker in France and looked forward to trying out some of my music for Belgian people. The first and most obvious difference I noticed was in the approach to bureaucracy and paperwork: France have a very “laissez faire” attitude to life. However, Belgian authorities need a paper for EVERYTHING, and in every “gemeente”. So having been stopped about five times by police on my first morning I found myself in the Diamant Metro where there were no police; just a couple of friendly security guards. We could finally make a living in the cultural car crash the locals call Antwaarp and become part of the blood that travels daily up the main arteries of the The Carnotstraat and the Leien, which when I arrived, still had the “kinderkopkes” on road surfaces into the centre, and the old town. 

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When I first arrived “straatmuzikanten” were  honoured as an art form and the quality was the best I have ever known; better than any other city I have ever played in. Each summer, the “terrasjes” would fill up with tourists and locals looking to be entertained whilst they relaxed in the sun with a “pintje” under the watchful gaze of Rubens who surveyed the square from his plinth in the centre of the Groenplaats.  Every busker would have their local and I settled in what at the time was called The Centra in the corner under the shadow of the Cathedral. It was run by a Dutchman who served trays of drinks on skeelers and I never witnessed him drop a thing in all the years I was there. Summers came and went, and in the winter we would go to a little buskers’ pub on the Kaai called the Muziekdoos run by Etienne who seemed to have been plucked straight out of 1967. The bar was cosy; the tables were barrels and they all had candles on them for ambience.  I remember one night when Stef Kamil Carlens in his pre Deus days had everyone dancing on the tables as he and another guy belted out a particularly bawdy Violent Femmes song. Those were the golden days.

Things changed drastically for street musicians in Antwerp and for the audiences on the terraces when new countries joined the EU. Unfortunately this caused some tension, and personally I do not think that audiences enjoyed the newly arrived musicians that much. The street music scene changed. Many of the real musicians left to go ply their craft in other cities. Others successfully formed bands: Deus, Zita Swoon, and Kiss My Jazz among others.

Me? I did something else…     

*     *     *

This picture shows a seat on The Groenplaats, informally known as “Buskers’ Bench”. Like me , you’ve probably walked past it many times without giving it a second thought. For Dave, it is strongly linked with his memories of musician and songwriter John Swift (“that was his bench”) who co-wrote the 1960s hit I Can’t Let Maggie Go. Behind the bench is a cafe/ bar called “De Kleine Post” -this was formerly Centra, mentioned above.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 24th, 25th & 26th August

Thanks for checking out Nessascityblog now that weekly posts have resumed! This time I managed to find the time to make the usual GOOGLE MAP pinpointing the locations mentioned in this post, so that you can find your way around what is set to be quite a busy weekend in Antwerp. I hope you find something fun here, especially if you are recently arrived in the city.

I’ve found three events for you which are ongoing over the whole weekend. These are:

HAP Food Festival which takes place on Schengenplein in the Cadixwijk from 4pm on Friday and continues on Saturday (12 -12) and Sunday (12- 10pm). This is a food truck festival and entry is free. A good chance to check out this nice area  -just beyond Eilandje -which seems to be an up and coming place to hang out.

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HAP food stands from a previous event at Park Spoor Noord

Also over the whole weekend, it’s the Mechelseplein Feesten on (unsurprisingly) The Mechelseplein, which actually starts on Thursday at 4pm. This is a very small, friendly square surrounded by local bars which are worth checking out. It is a free kid-friendly event. Times are: Friday 4pm -12; Saturday 4pm -12; Sunday 12- 8pm. The festival offers food, drink and live performances: see the full programme here.

Bargain hunters should drop by this garage sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Gierstraat 9 from 1- 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Gierstraat is just round the corner from the Vrijdagmarkt which is a cute local square, a little off the beaten tourist track and worth stopping by..

Friday

If you are a fan of markets, you might want to head down to Eilandje to scope out this new weekly market which opens today: Dok Markt offering fruit, vegetables and flowers. It’s an afternoon market (3pm- 8pm) so even if you’re working you might be able to catch it in the evening.

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Tuinstraat on De Pretstraat

Swaajp is an energetic impro theatre group which consistently gets good reviews. Over on Tuinstraat (Natie buurt) you can see them for free as part of events on this local street . You may have noticed “Tuinstraat” (“Garden Street”) on De Pretstraat) -it is near Park Spoor Noord (off Ellermanstraat) and it is currently a car free, attractive green space hosting catering and performance events designed to bring the community together, as well as being a place where locals can sit out and socialise.

Saturday

For more fresh and local produce head to Borgerhout for Kraakvers -Antwerp’s farmers market: fruit & veg, cheese, bread, preserves, chocolate, local honey, fresh coffee and more, from 9am -2pm on Vincotteplein.

Sunday

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Cultuurmarkt flags

It’s the annual Flemish Culture Market today: many, many cultural organisations (theatre, music, dance, art, literature and more) showcase their upcoming programmes at various locations around the city, offering free performances, freebies and tons of information. The programme is extensive; you can find it here.

Have you been to the brewery  Cafe Seefhoek? It’s worth a visit. It’s somewhat tucked away and it’s where Seefbier is brewed. It also features a nice, airy bar and sunny courtyard. The food is good, fresh and reasonably priced (share some tapas with friends) and this weekend they are additionally holding a second hand market there, featuring second hand goods, vinyl and crafts from midday until 6pm.

Lambermonmartre on Leopold de Waelplaats is Antwerp’s summer open-air monthly art fair, enabling local artists and creatives to showcase and sell their work. It takes place from midday, just in front of the Museum of Fine Art (KMSKA). There is also always a food and drink stand, and a band playing at 2.30 and at 5pm to add to the atmosphere.

The weather is expected to be mainly dry, with some brief showers possible on Saturday and Sunday morning. Temperatures will cool off a bit but stay warm, with highs of around 18 degrees.

Miscellaneous

Don’t forget that Zomer van Antwerpen is not over yet! Here’s the website.

Baroque Antwerp season continues until January 2019.

The OLT (Open Air Theatre) concert season program is here. To go for free, see events entitled “Gratis Vrijdagen” (Free Fridays)

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This weekend in Antwerp: 17th, 18th & 19th August

 

bfsp2018Greetings! I hope you are having a great summer in Antwerp and that readers survived the heatwave, and enjoyed safe travels. Weekly posts are back, but some of the information on the Big Fat Summer post may still be useful to you.

This weekend the most important event is the annual Bollekesfeest -for newbies, a ‘bolleke’ is the local name for a glass of Antwerp’s best known beer: de Koninck, which obviously will be flowing in copious quantities this weekend. Bollekesfeest takes place over all three days, and over a few different locations, most notably round the Historic Centre: Suikerrui, Groenplaats, Grote Markt and Steenplein, with smaller events on Sint Andriesplaats. It’s about a lot more than beer: this is a hugely social and popular event, also featuring music, DJs, foodstalls and additional events, some of which connect to the Baroque Season. Check the program carefully to see what you would like to do, or alternative just show up and wander from location to location. If you have kids to entertain, the Steenplein will be the best venue for you, where as well as the beers, food and music, there is a Kidzone and a play fountain (tip: bring a change of clothes and a towel).

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dancing at Bollekesfeest

It is free to attend Bollekesfeest (food and drink purchases are made with a Betaalkaart this year). Here are the opening times:
Friday 17/8: 16.00 – 24.00 uur.
Saturdag 18/8: 11.00 – 24.00 uur
Sunday 19/8: 11.00 – 20.00 uur

 

Friday

Here the Friday programme for Bollekesfeest.

The Zomer van Antwerpen (ZVA) is by no means over and there are still a number of free music events taking place on squares around the city. This Friday night the band Handkerchief (blues, ska, gypsy, gospel, surf, calypso and rumba influences) are playing on Dageraadplaats from 7.30pm. Or show up earlier, as there are kids’ activities from 3pm.

The OLT free music event this week comes courtesy of The Mambo Queens and starts at 8.30pm.

 

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Bollekesfeest on Steenplein by the River Schelde

 

Saturday

Here is the Saturday programme for Bollekesfeest

 

 

 

Sunday

Here is the Sunday programme for Bollekesfeest

Your Rommelmarkt this weekend comes courtesy of SNITT and Goegekregen and takes place along the Singel from 9-6.

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Permeke Library

Secondhand goodies can also be found at the monthly Strip -en- boekenplein (second hand books, comics, graphic novels and more) on De Coninckplein just in front of Antwerp’s Permeke Library, from 10am -4pm.

Sunday is also a good day to head to FOMU if you have kids to entertain. They offer special activities for children as part of their Zomerse Zondagen.

The weather is likely to remain somewhat cloudy and overcast this weekend, but nonetheless dry and warm with top temperatures around 23- 24 degrees.

 

Miscellaneous

Baroque Antwerp season continues until January 2019.

The OLT (Open Air Theatre) concert season program is here. To go for free, see events entitled “Gratis Vrijdagen” (Free Fridays).

Over summer, Stad Antwerp offers two outdoor swimming pools (Boekenberg and de Molen)


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The Big Fat Summer Post 2018

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Here is the Nessascityblog Big Fat Summer post for 2018 -a bumper post to keep you informed and equipped to enjoy summer in Antwerp while I take my own summer holiday.

Regular weekly posts for the weekend will be back on 16th August!

The first information source you need to plan your Antwerp summer is the Stad Antwerpen Zomer Van Antwerpen website!

Summer Bars

Pop-up summer bars are at the heart of the Antwerp Summer experience, and are always an excellent go-to option for simply getting out in the city with friends or family. I can’t list them all but here is a breif guide to some I have been to. For a full list of all the summer bars in Antwerp (and beyond) this site is very useful and has an English version now too.

The Zomer van Antwerpen summer bar on Sloepenweg is the mother of all summer bars and is completely all-purpose, providing affordable food, drink, an outdoor library, ZVA info-booth, circus tent, and loads of space for kids to play. Professional loafers (like myself during the summer holidays) think of it as ZVA HQ.

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Bar Noord (Park Spoor Noord)

In Park Spoor Noord, Bar Noord is similarly all-purpose if you are entertaining kids for the warm summer days (the fountains in which children can play are a big draw when temperatures rise). Bar Noord is open until late with more events and music for when it’s grown-up time.

Another huge bar is Bocadero at Waagnatie. It’s got a great location right by the water and is a pretty hip place to see and be seen. Kids will like the sand but Bocadero is definitely more of a venue for those sans enfants, as is Jardim just a little further along the river. There is more of a cocktail atmosphere at these two bars

Bar Paniek is another bar we have enjoyed: it’s got a more quirky and somewhat arty vibe, and is located on the Kattendijkdok with an industrial waterside feel and a standard drink selection: come for a glass of wine or a Seefbeer, rather than to hang with the cocktail crowd. Bar Paniek has also served as a nice location for food and second hand markets in the past. I get the impression that the Cadix Wijk in this area is an up-and-coming one.

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Antwerp summer bars

Also part of ZVA, the Zomerfabriek -is a spacious urban- style bar in Zurenborg, with a busy programme of regular events (e.g. urban sports, dance workshops) aimed mostly at a younger crowd, but the bar itself is a really nice place for anyone wanting a food and drink.

Right in the centre of the city is Strandhof at Kavka. Kavka is a youth-club but even as a crumbly middle-aged person, I really liked being able to go to a summer bar here, two years ago, in the courtyard of this attractive building on Oudaan. It was missed last summer. It’s a perfect location if you are shopping or running errands in the centre and want to get away from busy shops or sticky streets.

A Dozen Dates For Your Summer Diary:

1) On the 11th July, head to Groenplaats for Vlaanderen Feest (the kids entertainments start at midday, courtesy of Ketnet) and the evening entertainment begins on the Grote Markt at 17.45. Both squares will have stages, music, drink, activities and dancing. This is the Day of the Flemish Community, not to be confused with Belgium’s National Day (see number 5, below)

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Groenplaats

2) On the 15th July, it’s the usual second hand book market on de Coninckplein in front of Permeke Library, starting at 10am.

3) Food and Drinks Festival Fiesta Europa is on Groenplaats for five days from the 18th July

4) On 20th -21st July it’s Borgerwood Musical festival at Trix music venue and Spoor Oost

5) 21st of July is a national holiday in Belgium, it being Belgian National Day What better way to celebrate than by going to Roller Disco Dageraad ? It’s on all day from 1pm on Dageraadplaats: bring your skates if you have them (there will be a limited number for hire if you don’t) and dress as per roller disco style!

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The 21st July is Belgium’s National Day

6) Staying on Dageraadplaats for the 22nd July for Rommelmarkt Dageraad. These second hand markets are pretty good as many of the local residents are quite well-heeled…

7) Art Lovers: on 29th July it’s Lambermontmartre -support local artists, photographers and creatives while enjoying outdoor food, drinks and music. Free, from midday -in front of the museum of modern art (aka KMSKA).

8) On the 3rd August Flying Pig is at Antwerp’s Theaterplein. Outdoor evening drinks, DJs and music from 5pm.

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Sommar

9) Also on the 3rd August and continuing on to the 4th it’s annual music festival Linkerwoofer. Tickets here – this is a kid-friendly event.

10) Stay up late and visit your favourite Antwerp museum on the 4th August because it’s the annual Antwerp Museum Night

11) The next day (5th August) you can sing your heart out at Antwerp Zingt. This is a super-friendly, kid-friendly event based around the simple idea that it is fun for a community to get together in song. As well as local songs, there are usually plenty of well-known tunes that everyone can join in with, and a song sheet to help you along. Free, on the Gedempte Zuiderdokken from 6pm

16) And last, but never least, it is the rainbow jewel in the crown of the Antwerp summer: from 8th-12th August it’s Antwerp Pride. The Parade is on the Saturday, starting at 2pm and taking this route: Route: Vlaamse Kaai (start) – Verschansingsstraat – Leopold De Waelplaats – Karel Rogierstraat – Marnixplaats – Scheldestraat – Scheldekaaien – Sint-Pietersvliet (end). For the full program (including pre- and post Pride events) see here.

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Pride Parade

Five For The Rugrats

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1) For just 2 euros per day per kid there’s Speel -O- Rama at Zuiderpershuis

2) Time your drinking to coincide with kids’ read-aloud: daily stories at the outdoor library in the Zomerbar.

3) Check out these sport programs and activities (you need to register for these and pay a fee when you do so). Choose your activity and click on “inschrijven”. Here is the full list For other types of workshops, it is worth looking at the websites of local museums such as MUHKA who have additional holiday workshops for kids.

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Sportopia

4) For cheap indoor play there is Sportopia at the Park Loods building (Park Spoor Noord)

5) The kids’ workshops and activities which have previously been held at Cafe Het Steen have moved to a new venue further along the river on the Drogendokkenweg, and is now called STORMKOP. Here’s their program.

Ongoing

Baroque Antwerp season continues until January 2019.

The OLT (Open Air Theatre) concert season program is here. To go for free, see events entitled “Gratis Vrijdagen” (Free Fridays).

Over summer, Stad Antwerp offers two outdoor swimming pools (Boekenberg and de Molen)

Follow Nessascityblog on Instagram for pictures of summer 2018 in Antwerp!

I hope you have a lovely Antwerp summer and I am very grateful to everyone who reads the blog, and who takes the time to contact me with events, information or a positive comment.

Don’t forget that if you would like to write a special post for Nessascityblog or do a short interview (in person, or via email) then please get in touch: nessascityblog@gmail.com or via the other social media in the Find & Follow section. I’d love to hear and share your Antwerp story!
Nessascityblog weekly posts will return on 16th August.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 6th, 7th & 8th July

If you live in or close to the centre, you don’t need to go far for a full weekend of entertainment this weekend. Feesten in het Stadspark is a free event in the Stadspark over both days. There’s food, drink, kids entertainment, live music, performances and dancing to be had. On Sunday, things kick off quite early with a big second hand market from Goegekregen (from 9am).

The hot weather is going to continue, so there is nothing to spoil your fun at this event: as ever don’t forget water-bottles, sun hats, shades and plenty of sunscreen for the whole family, especially kids.

Here is your GOOGLE MAP for this weekend!

 Saturdaystjansplein

There’s a huge second hand market on Sint Jansplein from 10am -6pm.

 

 

Sunday

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Hungry? head to Brilliant Foodies at Felix Pakhuis (this is near MAAS museum, Eilandje). Felix Pakhuis is a beautiful venue for this free multicultural food event. In addition to the amazing food, there will be live music, diamond and jewelry workshops and fun activities for the whole family. Brilliant Foodies is hosted by Diamonds and Antwerp.

Another really nice part of the Zomer van Antwerpen is the “Muziek in de Wijk” events, which bring local bands to the local squares and parks of the city. This weekend on Sunday Muziek in de Wijk is on Krugerplein from 2.30pm with the main program beginning at 4pm.

Miscellaneous

On Wednesday 11th July Vlaanderen Feest will be held on Grote Markt with a busy party program that starts at midday. This is a fun local event, and definitely one to enjoy if you are recently arrived and want to enjoy an authentic part of Antwerp cultural life. You can read about why this is celebrated as an important day for Flanders here.
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Have you noticed the life-sized statues of zoo animals (pic right) around the town? These commemorate 175 years of Antwerp Zoo. Happy birthday, Antwerp Zoo!

Also from the zoo: every evening on the Flamingo Plein  (zoo entrance) live music and -yes, you guessed it – a summer bar, between 5pm -7.30pm. A perfect summer after-work for when you step off the train -until 23rd September.

 

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bumper summer post coming on the 11th July

The Big Fat Summer Post is coming out on the 11th July, while I take a break for about a month for my own summer holidays, and to enable me to get out and enjoy some of the events and places I blog about!

I hope you have a lovely Antwerp summer and I am very grateful to everyone who reads the blog, and who takes the time to contact me with events, information or a positive comment.

Don’t forget that if you would like to write a special post for Nessascityblog or do a short interview (in person, or via email) then please get in touch: nessascityblog@gmail.com or via the other social media in the Find & Follow section. I’d love to hear and share your Antwerp story!

Recently I have shared guest posts from Timo: Five Places to Read & Relax in Antwerp and Sonny: Take Five With Sonny Dhanowa.

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Guest post: Five Places to Read and Relax in Antwerp

Timo is a teacher of English Language and Literature at an international school in the Antwerp area, and enjoys reading, cycling, and playing, recording and mixing music in his free time. He was one of the very first people to subscribe to Nessascityblog, and remains a loyal reader to this day. Timo is Dutch/ American, but has lived and worked in Antwerp for over a decade, and also plays in a local band (110). You can listen to his music here.

I would like to share with you some good locations for reading in the central Antwerp area. If you live in an apartment in the city, as I do, you’ll find that it is important to get out once in a while. I tend to go for walks, and sometimes bring a book with me. Here are a five of my favourite “walking & reading” locations.

  1. Harmoniepark

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About a two kilometre walk from Antwerp Central Station, Harmoniepark (left) is nestled next to the slightly bigger Koning Albertpark; the latter was once Antwerp’s prime location for a hanging! Harmoniepark is great for readers, as it has extended, comfortable wooden benches, both in the sun and shade. The Feestzaal Harmonie building is currently under renovation – scheduled to finish in 2020 – after which it will function as one of Antwerp’s districtshuizen (or town halls). During the summer months, you’ll notice there are a number of free sporting activities taking place in this park, including yoga, for adults and for children.

 

  1. Permeke Library

The Permeke library – about a 5 minute walk from Central Station – contains several good reading places. If you want a quiet  indoor area to read or study, try the upper floor inside the library. You do not need a membership card to enter and use the facilities, and summer opening hours are from 10 am to 5 pm Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10 am to 2 pm on Sundays. Do keep in mind the opening times change in winter. A hidden gem is the vast CD and DVD collection in the back on the first floor. On sunny days, you can use the reading courtyard out back (leestuin)  and if you prefer having a coffee or even lunch with reading, you can visit Cafe Kubus right across from the library entrance. This is the only cafe I know of in Antwerp where you are actively encouraged to study and read.

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Kubus Cafe & reading courtyard at Permeke Library
  1. “Den Botaniek”  – botanical garden

Den Botaniek” is a tiny but beautiful botanical garden located next to St Elisabeth Hospital, about a 15 minute walk from Central Station. Sometimes referred to as “the garden of poets”, this is an oasis for readers who like quiet, serene spaces. There are benches throughout the park, and, if you want to stretch your legs, you can visit the greenhouse (a warm place during winter!) or admire the gorgeous Koi fish in the garden’s ponds. Den Botaniek is open to the public from 8 am to 8 pm during summer, and until 5.30 pm during winter.

 

  1. Antwerp Zoo
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Antwerp Zoo

Antwerp has been investing a lot in improving its zoo, and one of my new favourite spaces is the small square just inside the zoo’s main entrance. Access to this area is free. There are numerous benches, and it is surprisingly quiet, given its central location next to Antwerp’s main station. Do keep in mind that the gates to the free area close with the zoo’s closing hours. Inside the zoo itself, there are many places to relax and read as well. If you are interested in this, I suggest you look into their year pass options. If you have children, the family zoo pass is a good deal, given the zoo contains a large playground and several cafes serving relatively cheap food and drink, with a 10% discount for card holders or “abonnees”.

  1. Zaha Hadidplein & Willemdok area

I’m cheating a little bit here by combining two different places, but they are very similar in atmosphere and relatively close together. The Antwerp Port Building, designed by the late award-winning British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, is striking and controversial- some people love it; others don’t. There is a big open space underneath the building, with great views of the city and some of its docks. Personally, I think this area could do with a few more places to sit, but there are some stone benches by the waterside, providing a great location to read and relax. Do keep in mind this is slightly further out if you live in the centre of town; it will take you about 45 minutes to walk from the station, but it is well worth a visit. When heading back south and into the centre of town, you’ll find another reading haven: the attractive Willemdok area, with its many benches and great views of the MAS building.

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I hope you will enjoy some of these mostly free places and read in Antwerp. Next time you feel you need to get out of your apartment or house, why not carry book or e-reader with you, and perhaps even leave your phone at home?

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 29th, 30th June, & 1st July

zomerbar2018entranceIt’s going to be a roasty- toasty weekend with temperatures possibly reaching 30 degrees, so don’t forget your shades, sunscreen, water-bottle and of course sunscreen and hats for the smalls.

Here’s the GOOGLE MAP!

It’s a great weekend for shoppers; if you are not keen on shopping now is the time to escape from it all at the main summer bar of Zomer van Antwerp which is now open (every day from 14h) until the 2nd September, by the Schelde on Sloepenweg.

Friday

Costa Sint Andries are holding Pleinfestijn at 3.30 pm to launch a program of sport activities taking place on the square until 16th August. There will be yoga, salsa, zumba, basketball and sport for kids, showcased for free to take part in, alongside information about future classes and activities.

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Critical Mass hold a holiday edition of their monthly bike ride, assembling as usual on Theaterplein at 6pm.  Bring a snack and/ or sandwiches with you (as well as your bike, of course) as after an hour’s leisurely cycling, the ride will finish at Park Spoor Noord for a picnic.

Saturday

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If you are a parent or carer for children aged 6-12, you may be familiar with the kids’ workshops and activities which have been held at Cafe Het Steen (my kids have all enjoyed spending time there over the years). These have moved to a new venue further along the river on the Drogendokkenweg, which is opening today (festivities will also continue on Sunday) and is called STORMKOP. A program of events for children aged 6-12 (similar to activities which previously took place at Het Steen) will get underway this summer.

There’s late night Summer shopping until 8pm on Meir…

…. after which you could head to London Calling at Magiq Spiegeltent  for free! starts at 10pm.

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Grote Markt

Sunday
…shopping continues, as it’s first Sunday of the month, so Antwerp is open for Shopping Sunday, round the centre of town (Meir, Stadsfeestzaal) but if you want to get away from the busiest areas to something a little more relaxed and local, head for the shops and cafés on the lovely Kloosterstraat.

Swan Market (jewellery, food trucks, live music, clothes, accessories, stationery) is on Groote Markt from 11am – 6pm

Miscellaneous

Nessascityblog got a lovely new header pic this weekend to coincide with the publication of a special post about Sonny Dhanowa of Casa de Sonny -if you haven’t seen it take a look, and get in touch via nessascityblog@gmail.com to share your own Antwerp story.

Thanks to Critical Mass, London Calling & Stormkop for additional images.

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Take Five with Sonny Dhanowa

 

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Photo credit: Hans van der Linden

Meet Sonny Dhanowa from Trowbridge in the UK.

 

After studying Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Exeter, then working for ten years, Sonny (pictured right) decided on a total change of field and direction and pursued a new career in music and business. If you are familiar with the social media of Antwerp’s vibrant music scene, you may have noticed Casa De Sonny events on your feed. These evenings take place for free in Sonny’s stylish Italiëlei apartment, and showcase local and visiting musicians. 

Having been to one of these, I was curious to learn about what inspired Sonny to do this here in Antwerp …

So who are you and what are you doing here in Antwerp?

I’m Sonny Dhanowa from the Trowbridge, UK (nearish to Bristol). I was living in Barcelona, Spain for thirteen years before coming here three years ago, and before that I was in London. I’m a DJ/ producer and general music lover. I’m using Antwerp as a base of operations while I kick start different music related projects.

 I went to a Casa de Sonny evening, and would love to come again. It seemed a very unusual event -what prompts someone to open the doors of their home for free and making no profit, as a hang-out for people who they do not know?

I’ve been promoting nights- on and off- for most of my adult life; from the standard party with DJs to more elaborate and unusual nights involving different cultural aspects such as bands /film /dance/spoken word. I was extremely fortunate to move into a nice large loft-style apartment when I arrived in Antwerp, so the decision was basically made for me. And as I’ve found Antwerp to be quite an expensive city, it was easy not-charging people entrance and tell them to bring their own drinks. I believe in uniting people through community projects regardless of age, race, gender, language … but also regardless of wealth. I also LOVE meeting new people!

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What should we be looking out for at Casa de Sonny, or on the Antwerp music scene in the near future?

As per usual, I’ll be holding an eclectic mix of events over the following months: singer-songwriters, comedy nights, African music nights, and even album launches from local hip-hop artists. From an Antwerp perspective, there is way too much going on, I actually have a hard time keeping up with everything!

My next night is on the 14th of July – Ants Jeffares (NZ) & Jo Laureys (BE)

What are your favourite Antwerp hang-outs and venues & why?

My favourite hang-out is my flat! But apart from the obvious, I love chilled out bars, Crossroads Café is a personal favourite -mainly because it’s the closest bar to where I live, but also because they have live music events and jam sessions.

 

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logo design by Zwarfprod

What are your current (or near-future) projects and aspirations?

I’m gearing up to release an album in September on a small record and apparel label I’m in the process of setting up: Blue Ghost Records and Apparel. 

With my long-time collaborator, Daniel Roberts, we form the duo, “Dekalog”. Our first release, “Een: Bread and Circuses”, is with Antwerp jazz singer, Fien Desmet, and Ghent/London based rapper Amazumi, and also features contributions from musicians from various parts of the world.

 

Intrigued? Check out these links to find out more:

Casa de Sonny on Facebook and on Instagram

Blue Ghost Records on Instagram

With many thanks to Sonny Dhanowa for this interview and for the images used in this post.

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