UPDATE: Stad Antwerpen closes museums, libraries, sports facilities (including pools), community centres and all non-essential services from Friday 13th March until the end of the month. Here’s the update from the website
From midnight 13th March – Belgian schools suspend lessons -some are staying open to provide care if needed for the children of essential workers) until 3rd April; as well as cafés, restaurants. At the weekends, shops (apart from pharmacies and supermarkets) will close.
March is Black History Month in Belgium. Here is the agenda, where you can search for events near you. The theme of Black History Month 2020 is “The Roots Of Our Health” and it will be explored through events such as debates, movies, exhibitions and performances.
If you have a young reader, then you may also know that March is “Jeugdboekenmaand” (Youth Book Month) which means that there’s plenty going on in Bib Permeke for children and young people throughout the month. The theme this year is ART. See the Permeke library website for events, activities and exhibitions taking place there, or the search the complete agenda on the Jeugdboekenmaand page.
Next Tuesday is St Patrick’s Day, and we wish our Irish readers a wonderful day! Although, it looks as though some celebrations around the world will be cancelled due to the corona virus, let’s hope that the Irish pubs in Antwerp are able to keep their doors open for what is always a fun night/ weekend in the city.
Antwerp has four Irish bars: An Sibhin, Molly’s, Kelly’s and The Irish Times. All have celebrations for St Patrick’s Day planned, but they’re clearly over-excited at Molly’s on Jesuitenrui, who are kicking off already with live music, promos, sport & giveaways, and at An Sibhin on Nationalestraat (pic right) with the 6 Nations Finals on today, (and a breakfast on Sunday).***CANCELLED
It’s Retro Day in the second hand stores (‘kringloopwinkels’) around Antwerp.
CANCELLED *** Beer lovers who look forward to MEUG festival will also be getting in the mood at Bar Chapel with a one-night pop-up bar, opening at 7pm – register on the link, for a free drink. ***CANCELLED
CANCELLED *** One of my favourite museums is having a birthday party. After all, it’s not every day you turn 500, like Christoffel Plantin. The Plantin Moretus Museum on Vrijdagmarkt will be celebrating with a few different events, but starts today with a party, taking place both in the museum and on the Vrijdagmarkt: here is the agenda for the day. You can read more about the museum and Christoffel Plantin on this excellent guest post by Daniel McBrearty, from last year. ***CANCELLED
If you see runners in unusual places around the city today, that’s because it’s the Antwerp Urban Trail. You can register for this event until the day before. Register here. There are 7km and 12km runs, which go through famous Antwerp buildings that will be opened especially for the event, and you can view the routes here.
And if you see some well-fed looking oxen on Grote Markt, that’s because of an old Antwerp tradition called (literally translated) Weighing The Fat Ox which starts at 2pm. This dates back to Napoleonic times and you can see the animals being weighed on the traditional scales. Here’s an explanation of the history behind this tradition:
“In 1795 the French occupation put a stop to Antwerp’s butchers’ guild. The Vleeshuis then closed its doors and new covered market halls sprung up in its place. Butchers started organising themselves by market hall. Those from Sint-Jan founded an annual weigh-in for the fattest ox on the Grote Markt in the middle of the 19th century. The market hall no longer stands but the weigh-in still takes place. It is a remnant of what, for a long time, was a daily sight in the city: cattle wandering around.” (source)
It’s Boekenplein on de Coninckplein in from of Antwerp’s Permeke library. The monthly second hand book market returns after a cancellation last moth due to storms. The book market will be on from 10am -4pm.
After a grey and dreary week, there might be some improvement in the weather, although Friday is likely to still be rainy (mainly in the morning). Saturday and Sunday will be brighter, with a much lower chance of showers. Top temps on Sunday – around 14 degrees.
If you are concerned about the corona virus, this page will keep you updated about the current situation in Belgium (or via the Federal Health Department on Twitter). The situation is subject to change, and I will attempt to update if any of the events listed here are cancelled. At time of writing, larger indoor events (over 1000 people) are likely not to go ahead -if you have plans or tickets for such an event, check the event organiser or venue website.
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