ITAKA Zuidrand language school is pleased to announce that it will hold its annual ‘open door’ event on September 12th and 13th in Edegem. We will offer various activities throughout the day in the garden of the music academy. Visit our Facebook page or website for more information.
Tel: 03 457 59 22 (during the school year)
GSM: 04 86 53 09 15
Registrations are ongoing. Please rest assured that, in accordance with the government advice, all COVID-19 protective measures have been put into place. Please see the website for course offerings. The 2020-21 school year begins in the last week of September.
The school caters to adult learners, particularly for those over 50 years old and seniors. Courses include English, Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Art History, Music History. The school has a no stress philosophy, which means no exams. ITAKA Zuidrand has four campuses in and around Antwerp.
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.
NEW EXHIBITION AT PLANTIN- MORETUS SHOWS THE CITY’S IMPORTANT ROLE IN PAVING THE WAY FOR THE ENLIGHTENMENT.
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.
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.
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.
10 top tips you might find handy if you are new (or newish!) to the City of Antwerp.
1. Don’t forget to ask for help.
In Antwerp you’ll find so many communities for each nationality that you can easily reach on different social networks. Use these tools when you need help. Ask politely for info: you’ll find better allies here, than anywhere else.
See: Expats in Antwerp group on Facebook or go to Language café events like at
This might sound cheesy, but life doesn’t stop for them just because we’re away. They get old, have babies, they move on. You might want to ensure that you hear from them regularly. It’s just a little more effort that you have to make, than if you still lived close to them.
This might sound silly when living in a English-friendly country, but learning some Flemish might give you advantages you didn’t consider before…. and don’t forget that leaving a shop or the post office with a smile, is also a positive way of connecting with your new neighbours.
Explore the international community in the city you’re living, but don’t forget to make friends with Antwerpenaars too. They don’t have to become your best friends yet, you need them to help you better understand the society, to feel less misplaced. when someone explains a local joke to you, it can help you feel more included.
History is what makes a city big or small. It’s number one evaluation element to figure out whether a city is interesting or not. Never ignore this important aspect while being part of Antwerp community. It could be finding a local guide, going to a museum and reading the little guide book or reading some history books at the library, etc. History is what makes everything start.
Some people might seem less interested in you, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the traditions of your own culture. If you listen and respect Belgian culture, locals will appreciate every once in a while being introduced to an aspect of your culture too. It doesn’t have to be big; it could be something small like baking something typical for your office.
8. Avoid negative comparisons.
If you are about to start a new journey in Antwerp, try to be positive about your new environment, and avoid negative comparisons. People around you should accept you for who you are, where you come from and what you stand for. In return, give the host culture a real chance to introduce itself.
9. Never miss an opportunity to have new encounters.
You are never really alone if you surround yourself with new friends. If people you don’t know well invite you for an activity or an event in the city where you live, try to attend. Even if you’re not going to have the time of your life every time, it’s important to participate in as many events as possible and meet as many people as possible.
Thursday is Ascension Day (‘Hemelvaartsdag’ in Dutch) with Belgian schools also taking Friday off to make a long weekend. There is going to be a big fleamarket on Theaterplein, one from Skrap on the Gedempte Zuiderdokken (10am -10pm) and a fabric market on Groenplaats.
Also worth knowing is that another summer bar –Bar Gloed -has just opened. The kitchen is open from 9am -9pm daily. It’s on the 4th floor of The Antwerp Tower.
(A night club -Klub Goud- will be opening on the 21st floor soon …)
There are a couple of events which take place over all four days:
Antwerpen Proeft is a food and drink festival at Waagnatie which is near Eilandje. You can get tickets per day, or for all four days. It takes place inside the events venue, but also outside at Bocadero, – a summer bar at this location, which opens officially next weekend on the 13th.
Another four day event is the Zeezichtfeesten on Dageraadplaats, with performances and activities for all ages.
BATS have their regular opening evening on the first Friday of every month from 8.30pm. Go and join them at their theatre bar if you would like to find out more about being involved in English speaking theatre productions in Antwerp.
Grand Bazar is open for Mother’s Day treats and offers from 13.30 -5.30pm (also on Saturday)
Another edition of Handgemaakt (handmade) market in Kavka (on the Oudaan, opposite the big police station building) from 1pm -6pm. Free entry. I got some very pretty little pieces of jewellery here as Christmas gifts at the end of last year. Get a last minute Mother’s Day gift with a difference (see Sunday).
There’s a record fair at the bar Bato Batu on Lange Nieuwstraat, 12 -6pm, and MARTA (farmers’ market) takes place on Kattendijkdok between 9 and 4. MARTA is going to be a regular fixture on the first Saturday of each month.
Sunday is Mother’s Day in Belgium and in various countries around the world (not to be confused with the specifically Antwerp Mother’s Day on August 15th each year. Because we like to be different).
Bouger bouger is a nice neighbourhood event in Borgerhout on the Krugerplein food drink, DJs, a fleamarket and lots of space to play for kids.
Did you know that the roadworks on the Leien have unearthed a section of the Antwerp city wall built by the Spanish in the 16th?
On Sunday between 11 and 5pm you can go and see it (on the corner where Maria-Theresialei meets Frankrijklei).
There’s a Markt van Morgen from midday on Kloosterstraat -a market for local designers and creatives selling art, jewellery and accessories. There will also be food and DJs. Should you perchance have neglected to buy mum a gift, this would be a good place to put that right.
SKETCH is back, in Plein Publiek -its mission is to engage everyone in drawing and it provides the materials for you to join in, and local artists to inspire you. Even if you don’t want to draw you can come and watch the artists sketch and have a drink.
It’s the final chance to be involved in the Coming World Remember Me project at CWRM @ Het Steen where you can make a sculpture out of clay to honour one of the Belgian fallen of World War One. These sculptures will form an installation in Ypres which will be opened in 2018. Each one will incorporate a dog tag with the name of a soldier. You will be provided with the dog tag.
The weather is promising to be great -no, really, it is! No showers forecast this weekend, and a possible max of 25 degrees on Saturday, so get out and enjoy all the outside events without packing a bunch of raincoats and umbrellas. It might even be time to break out the sunscreen – especially for kids. Have a sunny weekend! (image from Pixabay)
How about a Picnic lunch on Theaterplein? If you didn’t order a lunch, you can just turn up with your own. There will be hot and cold drinks and musical performances -starts at midday. Proceeds to Studio Globo, Oxfam and Broederlijk Delen.
‘Curtis’ -a Joy Division tribute evening at 8pm at De Kleine Hedonist should get your weekend off to a cheery start.
Summer bar Bar Paniek opens tonight on the Kattendijkdok, Oostkaai 21B.
There is the 2018 festival on the Konijnenwei park, starting at 10am with a fleamarket, but also including musical performances from local bands, and entertainment for kids, throughout the day.
A festival of a different sort is on at ‘t Werkhuys in Borgerhout -for 3 euros fans of comics and cartoons can enjoy talks, expos and events at Klaxon Festival, starting at midday and continuing until 11.oo pm.
It’s the great big Antwerp Spring Clean! Enjoy – if you and your neighbours have registered for that. Don’t forget to take beer breaks.
More music -from the lovely and talented Down to Earth Diva who is fundraising for Urban Renewal at Café de Lijnstok at midday. Your donation will contribute to a good cause, and enable you to hear Nicola singing a variety of songs. There will also be a brunch.
At 3pm there is a folk jam in Den Hopsack which is a friendly little music bar tucked away on Grote Pieter Potstraat in the old town.
Sunday is Heritage Day across Brussels and Flanders. There’s lots going on in the Antwerp area. There are many events (readings, film, walking tours, dance performances) celebrating rituals and traditions of different types. Many activities are free but check the details carefully in case reservation is required.
The project Coming World Remember Me has started and will continue until the 8th May. At workshops at Steen, you can make a sculpture out of clay to honour one of the Belgian fallen of World War One. These sculptures will form an installation in Ypres which will be opened in 2018. Each one will incorporate a dog tag with the name of a soldier. You will be provided with the dog tag. It is free to take part but you need to register by calling 03 292 36 51 or mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
… And not far away at Chatleroi there’s a record sale.
Swan Market comes to Antwerp. Previously having taken place at Grote Markt (and where it will be again, on 22nd May), but -NB- this time it’s at Park Loods, in Park Spoor Noord, from midday until 6pm. Food trucks, drinks and snacks, and lots of stands selling gifts, jewellery, accessories, antique and vintage items. It has a nice vibe and won’t break the banks. Always handy if you are looking for a special present (or want to treat the kids or yourself to a yummy homemade cupcake or two)….
The weather is due to be mild and cloudy with a fair chance of showers on Sunday.
Fashion fiends and label addicts might want to check out Belmodo Fashion Days 2016 which take place until the 24th April and promise to supply designer pieces at below their usual prices at various locations around Antwerp. Check this link for times and locations.
The 23rd of April marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare‘s death. I couldn’t find a great deal going on around Antwerp except in the bookshop De Groene Waterman where there will be a reading and talk (in Dutch) analysing why Shakespeare’s themes and plays continue to endure to this day. This is free and starts at 4pm.
Sporting A is offering free basketball coaching for kids aged 6- 14 years of age every Wednesday from 20th April until 25th May. It’s on in various locations from 2pm -4pm (except Sint-Jansplein where it’s 3-5pm). No need to register, just show up if you are interested. My seven year old really enjoyed it this week.
There’s free live music at The Irish Times (Steve Jones) at 10pm, and if you are around earlier, you can see Augustana (currently supporting Dixie Chicks at Lotto Arena!) at Cafè Ami at 3pm for a matinée. If you are looking for after-work drinks, Gusta is serving from 5pm with music from Böky Bros. Gusta is also a useful address to know if you need gluten -free and dairy-free resources.
A big shout out to the Antwerp International School in Ekeren! Today is their International Day where all the various communities come together to show off their nation’s food, drink, and culture. There’s much to see and enjoy -both indoors and outdoors. It only happens once every two years and is a chance to see the school at its very best!
It’s a day to get planting, if you live in Antwerp. You can pick up a free sack of potting soil, courtesy of Stad Antwerpen, between 11 and 4pm today as part of Dag van de Potgrond -an initiative to encourage residents to add some greenery or flowers to their street. Pick up at Cargo Summer Bar (Park Spoor Noord) or at coStA.
It’s Flanders’ largest running event: The Antwerp 10 miles & Marathon! Good luck to everyone running today. Here’s the schedule if you would like to go and cheer the runners on. You can cross the river by free ferry on the day of the run, between 11.30 am and 7.30pm (Steenplein -St Annastrand)
If you prefer a less energetic type of recreation you could Travel The World in 80 Games (that’s board and table games) at Atlas on Carnotstraat for free. It’s not far from de Coninckplein where the book fair will be taking place right in front of the library between 10am and 4pm.
This week’s free flea market takes place at Skate Planet, near Sportpaleis between 10am and 6pm.
On Sundays at Rivierenhof, there are fairytale readings (in Dutch) for 5 euros from 2 -3.30pm. Reserve for your kid(s) via the link.
The weather is predicted to be mild (tops of 12 degrees) with the possibility of a some showers on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. Some bright spells on Sunday too.
For beautiful Antwerp views …did you know that during the summer period the roof of MAS museum is free and open until midnight, Tuesday to Sunday?
… and the project Coming World Remember Me has started and will continue until the 8th May. At workshops at Steen, you can make a sculpture out of clay to honour one of the Belgian fallen of World War One. These sculptures will form an installation in Ypres which will be opened in 2018. Each one will incorporate a dog tag with the name of a soldier. You will be provided with the dog tag.
It is free to take part but you need to register by calling 03 292 36 51 or mailing email@example.com
Sporting A is offering free basketball coaching for kids aged 6- 14 years of age every Wednesday from 20th April until 25th May. It’s on in various locations from 2pm -4pm (except Sint-Jansplein where it’s 3-5pm). No need to register, just show up if you are interested.
If you follow the blog on Twitter, you will know that I spent some of my weekend trying to counter some misinformation that was being spread by a Belgian blogger who claimed that the police had issued a warning to stay away from Meir. I tweeted the police who confirmed that this was not true. Members of my own family were on Meir and were clear that all was well there: it was sunny, and packed with shoppers as usual. The police had extra security in some places because of information they had received.
It was a useful lesson in cross-referencing, as one Tweet and a bit of Googling demonstrated that the blogger in question was spreading misinformation and alarm. In times where it is not unreasonable to be anxious about such things, we tend to focus on information sources that seem to keep us up to date (especially if you require the information to be in English). Although I demonstrated that the content of the blog post was false in this regard, the blogger has unfortunately declined to alter it.
I will do my best to keep you informed about the official advice as best I can; here and on Twitter. I am happy to correct any information that is shown not to be correct, so don’t hesitate to let me know if you spot a factual error. However, Nessascityblog is for weekend event information and I’d like it to stay that way, so here are a couple of sources where you can check for yourself: if there are any precautions advised by the security authorities, I am sure that the Gazet van Antwerpen will report the news very quickly. If you need news in English, check out the very useful Flanders Today. Additionally, you can aways check the page of the Antwerp police, or follow them on Twitter. Another good source for security information in Belgium is the Crisis Centre, who are also on Twitter with tweets in Dutch, French and English. It’s always a good idea to check with sources like those before sharing anything that adds to the general anxiety or causes worry to our loved ones, especially those in other countries. The current situation is that the threat level is at 3, and there are no warnings to stay away from Antwerp city centre, or any other area around Antwerp.