I am taking a break so that I can get ready for my own family Christmas now, so here are a few dates for your diary to see out 2019. Have a wonderful winter break, and a very happy Christmas -see you again in 2020. Thank you for reading and sharing Nessascityblog in 2019.
Winter In Antwerp is now open: this is the highlight of the winter holiday season in Antwerp. If you are new to the city you have plenty of time to check out the various attractions which are on until 5th January. They key locations are Steenplein (especially if you have kids to entertain), Groenplaats and Grote Markt. Christmas market stands can be found in all of these places. There is always a winter bar (this year it’s called Bar Den and will be situated on Steenplein), a big wheel and the ice rink (Groenplaats).
From the 18th – 24th December it’s the Warmste Week -a week of charity events and fundraising across Belgium. You can search for activities and good causes in your area here. Look out for the flame logo which accompanies De Warmste Week events (pic left, taken from the Warmste Week website).
Grand Cafe Capital in Stadspark are celebrating their first Christmas with a Christmas market on daily from the 19th -29th December.
Friday 20th December:BATS Open Evening starts at 5pm at The Little Theatre on Paardenmarkt. A chance to find out about the theatre group and maybe join in, as well as to enjoy some festive cheers, songs, soup and Gluhwein.
On Sunday 22nd DecemberGoegekregen are in the shelter at Park Spoor Noord once more -it a great space for this event and the shelter means that the second-hand market can’t be rained off, but it is a bit drafty at this time of year, so wear a good coat!
Friday 27th is the last Critical Mass ride of 2019, setting off as usual from Theaterplein at 6pm for an hour’s cycling through the city before finishing up at Winter in Antwerp.
The Jungle Book Light Festival is on at the zoo until 12th January. It is ticketed and enables visitors to see the colourful lights and figures supplied by the makers of China Light, which has taken place in previous years. It’s not the cheapest family evening out, but we have always enjoyed seeing the zoo this way in previous years and consider it a nice winter treat. Check the weather before you book, and wrap up warm if necessary!
Because it’s December, the shops will be open on all Sundays throughout the month, and again on January 5th 2020.
And looking ahead to next year, why not finish the festive season with a trip to the annual BATS panto, which this year, is Sleeping Beauty? (pic below, from BATS website) Tickets via the BATS website.
BATS is a very important part of Antwerp’s theatre scene -both for English speakers from other countries who have made Antwerp their home, and also for native Belgians here in Antwerp.
My own kids have loved their annual pantomimes and my oldest child has been part of a Variety Show, and a panto. It is a place where people not only express their love of theatre, but also make friends and socialise. Please read the flyer below which is from BATS and get in touch with them if you can help!
Antwerp simply wouldn’t be the same without BATS …
HAPPY NEW YEAR! Here’s the first of the regular posts for 2019. January can be a quiet time but there are a few things on to ease you into the new year.
Start your weekend with New Year’s Drinks on Theaterplein (pic right), courtesy of Aper’eau.
I went to see the “de Wolkenbreier’s” (The Cloudknitter’s) pictures at the bar Rode 7 on Sint Jansplein last weekend. Well worth a look, and a good chance to get acquainted with this lovely Antwerp bar (which also serves good food) if you do not already know it. The finissage will take place from 7pm -11pm
There’s the annual Kerstboomverbranding (Christmas tree burning) from 5pm on Frederik van Eedenplein. You can warm yourself by the fire with a glass of Cava or gluhwein or a snack. This signals the end of all the Winter In Antwerp festivities.
January in Antwerp wouldn’t be complete without the BATS panto! This year it’s Snow White (oh, yes it is!) at Thetaer ‘t Eilandje and tickets are available via the BATS VZW website.
After some controversy regarding the date this year, Monday 14th January is “Verloren Maandag” (“Lost Monday”) -a Belgian tradition explained in this recipe post which I found. Expect sausage rolls and appelbollen at your local baker.
Although this is the first what’s-on post for 2019, Nessascityblog did publish this special post/ interview with Leandro from Hard Rock Cafe Antwerp. You should also look out for another special post coming to Nessascityblog on Monday – all about the Plantin-Moretus museum, detailing Antwerp’s special place in the history of publishing, and reviewing of the current exhibition.
Need a productive new year’s resolution that doesn’t involve giving up something you enjoy? Let 2019 be the year you write your Antwerp story for Nessascityblog! Please get in touch with your idea. I’d love to have more guest posts, reviews, tips, personal stories and accounts connected to the city of Antwerp.
There are a number of events which are on over the course of the weekend; both on Saturday and Sunday. In fact, whatever you like to do, there’s something for everyone on this weekend….
For beer lovers: The Modeste Beer Festival 2018 is free and takes place for the 8th time over at the de Koninck brewery on Saturday and Sunday, from 11am -7pm. Over 25 small brewers will be present at the festival, offering tastings for a euro each (+ 3 euros for glass hire) For fashion lovers:Antwerp Fashion Weekend is always fun. Check the program
for fashion related events, shows and promos in various stores around the city. Key areas to check out include: Meir, Grand Bazar, Kammenstraat, Nationalestraat & Kloosterstraat.
For foodies:Smaakmeesters 2018 The old town, Eilandje and the Zuid are the key areas for this festival of food, which has an extensive program (see the Smaakmeesters link) of markets, activities, food orientated guided walks and exhibitions
For shoppers:Weekend van de Klant means lots of promos and offers in participating stores (this coincides with Antwerp Fashion Weekend)
For party people: The re-opening of Plein Publiek (new location). This restaurant/ bar/ night venue was previously in the Sint Andries area, in the centre of the ‘Fierensblokken’ and hosted a variety of events. It’s relocating to D’Herbouvillekaai 19 (just south of the Kaaien) and the opening festivities will take place over Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Sint Andries Harvest Festival is a new event on Sint Andriesplaats -a relaxed, community-focused square near the Kloosterstraat and Nationalestraat. From 1pm there will be music, drink, snack food and a bouncy castle for kids.
Swan Market is on Grote Markt from 11- 6pm today, with its usual offering of stalls selling products such as jewellery, stationery, accessories, and hand-made goods. There’s also always food, drink and a kids’ area.
If that’s not enough consumerism for you, then -being the first Sunday of the month – it’s also Shopping Sunday in Antwerp (this coincides with Antwerp Fashion Weekend).
The weather looks like it will be pleasant and dry this weekend (especially on Friday and Saturday, but remaining mild for Sunday too).
For a more relaxed Sunday try Ecodroom at Riviernhof: info stands, workshops, a repair cafe, and a second hand market -all focused on the idea of a greener way of life.
Think Pink’s “Race For The Cure” last weekend was a busy and lively event. There was a multi-generational effort from my family (my mum, myself and my son) who crossed the finish line. Congratulations to all who ran. If you’d like to donate to this great cause click here to make a contribution.
If you would like to get involved with BATS VZW -Antwerp’s English speaking theatre group, now might be the time! BATS do a panto every year in January. This year it’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and auditions take place soon.
I’ll be away this week in London. If you’d like to follow via Instagram, check out the hashtag #nessascityblogLondon Next week’s Antwerp post will be a brief round-up, as I won’t be here, or have much time on my hands, as I will be hoofing it round some London galleries supervising an Arts trip.
*** Happy New Year and welcome back to Nessascityblog for 2017! ***
Here’s the GOOGLE MAP with locations for this post.
There are a few events to take us into the New Year as the Christmas festivities in the town draw to a close this weekend.
Stad Antwerp’s Winter Festivities conclude this weekend. The Christmas market can be found around Steenplein, Suikerrui, Groenplaats and Grotemarkt, with gluhwein and hot chocolate aplenty -but the 8th is the last day. There’s skating on Groenplaats, a tubing slide on Steenplein and the ferris wheel by the Schelde. The atmosphere is friendly and festive, and it’s a great place to take visiting friends or family and kids. The Nello & Patrasche (A Dog of Flanders) statue was unveiled at the opening of the Christmas market, in December, in front of the Cathedral. This beautiful piece is the work Batist Vermeulen of Studio Tist.
On social media, you can share your Antwerp festive pictures with the hashtag #WinterinA
There’s a Winter Festival over at Spoor Oost, starting at 4pm and continuing until 9pm, including a ‘Burning Dragon’ spectacle, and activities for kids.
BATS (English Speaking Theatre in Antwerp) hold their usual Friday Open Evening at their Little Theatre on Paardemarkt at 8.30pm -go along to meet members of BATS, have a drink at the bar, or to find out more about being part of the productions they do. Their pantomime is coming soon to Arenberg Theatre!
For a different type of guided walk, you may enjoy an Antwerp Ghost Walk – again a good way to get to know the city if you are new. The full agenda can be seen on the site; it costs 12,50 and starts at 20.30 on Steenplein (by the statue of Lange Wapper).
Het Roze Huis holds its New Year’s reception at Den Draak starting at 8pm -enjoy dancing, and the tombola which will be raising money for their current project: LGBT youth suicide prevention & awareness.
If you are new to Antwerp, this New Year’s walk might be a great way to get to know the town. It is organised by Walk Antwerp and costs 18 euros (including a drink). It starts at 2pm from TeaKoff coffee shop (Grote Pieter Potstraat) and lasts about hours. You need to register beforehand by mailing email@example.com and the walk will take you round the historic centre of Antwerp, with a local guide.
And if you really haven’t had enough of shopping, you can head into town for the January sales -it’s the first Sunday of the month, so shops are open.
Alternatively, from 11am at de Roma theatre there is a vinyl & film expo all day until 17.30 for 4 euros in -tickets at the door.
There’s a New Year’s BBQ at the Scheldekaaien by the pedestrian tunnel from midday until 5pm.
The weather will be cold, but hopefully not freezing (around 3 degrees). There could be some light rain and drizzle, especially on Saturday.
Monday the 9th of January is “Verloren Maandag” (“Lost Monday”). It’s a tradition to eat sausage bread (worstenbrood) and appelbollen (fried apple cakes) on Verloren Maandag, which is always the first Monday after the 6th January (“Driekoningen”). There seem to be varying stories about this day, but it is celebrated in Antwerp province and was traditionally a day when no one worked and therefore lost a day’s salary (hence, “Lost” Monday). The city was supposed to provide during this day, and a cost-effective way of doing so was with the sausage bread and apple beignets. Some cafés and bars will observe the tradition by serving these foods.
If you have had a real Christmas tree in your home over the festive period, it can be put out with your regular rubbish in Antwerp throughout January for collection. Some will be burned to mark the end of the Winter In A season on Linkeroever next weekend.
A heads-up for runners: if you want to take part in the Plan Belgium Run on Sunday, March 12, 2017 (Park Spoor Noord) sign up soon (Antwerp Urban Trail on the drop-down menu), as places are running out (no pun intended).
This will be Nessascityblog’s last post for 2016 , so I am trying to include as much as possible to see you into 2017 in Antwerp.
NEXT POST: THURSDAY 5TH JANUARY 2017
As mentioned last week Stad Antwerp’s Winter Festivities have now started so head down to the old town and you can’t miss it. The Christmas market can be found around Steenplein, Suikerrui, Groenplaats and Grotemarkt, with gluhwein and hot chocolate aplenty. There’s skating on Groenplaats, a tubing slide on Steenplein and the ferris wheel by the Schelde. The atmosphere is friendly and festive, and it’s a great place to take visiting friends or family and kids. The Nello & Patrasche (A Dog of Flanders) statue was unveiled last weekend in front of the Cathedral. This beautiful piece is the work Batist Vermeulen of Studio Tist.
On social media, you can share your Antwerp festive pictures with the hashtag #WinterinA
Festive & Miscellaneous
If you are planning a clear- out of your home you might want to revisit this post for ideas about where to take still useable toys, books, household goods and wearable clothes, instead of throwing them out.You could also contact the EVA centre in Ekeren who often take items to assist the refugees that they welcome and care for. At the moment, there is also a drop- off for clothes, shoes and fabric in Het Steen Café -make sure all your items are bagged before bringing them there.
MAF is opening a new art space on Keistraat 1 on the 21st December. Head along at 8pm to find out about their approach and what they do.
A random recommendation from me for this time of year is to go to Antwerp Market on Theaterplein. It’s open on both on Saturdays and Sundays, but Saturday is better, in my opinion. If you are going to be cooking a lot over the Christmas period, then this is the place to get great food from all over the world at a really good price. I always get veg here, and if I can, cheeses too. Over the time that I have lived in Antwerp, the market has also become increasingly social, with cava stands, oyster bars and food trucks, adding to the more traditional food sellers here. You can also get fresh coffee and pasta on the market, and a huge range of the sort of food you would want to offer at a party or to Christmas guests, including many varieties of olives, dips and tapenades. The market on Sunday is less food orientated, with more clothes and household items -it also closes earlier. Since the Theaterplein gained a roof, rain no longer stops play.
China Light is an event that is slightly pricier (15 euros for an adult ticket) than the usual events and activities I post here, but it is a really nice tour if you want to do something a bit unusual this winter. The lights do look magical and the zoo is a great setting in which to display them. I would check the weather forecast before going as rain would spoil this tour.
The last Wednesday of the month means free museum entry for Stad Antwerp museums (Wednesday 28th December).
Next weekend is of course Christmas, and I am away for New Year, so I will be posting again on the 5th January. For New Year’s Eve in Antwerp head to The Schelde if you want fireworks. But if clubs and parties are more your thing, then I recommend that you keep an eye on This Is Antwerp who I am sure will be posting all the information you need as NYE approaches.
Thank you very much for reading and following Nessascityblog during 2016. Please comment and include links to any additional winter events which I have missed. If you have found this blog helpful, please share it with your friends, on social media and in groups where it may be useful.
*** Here’s the GOOGLE MAP with all the locations from this post for the specific Friday- Sunday events***
Street Art Antwerp has featured a few times on this blog, and earlier this year my son and I joined a tour which we both very much enjoyed. This Friday, Tim is finishing up for the year with a special Flame Edition of his tour: bring torches and flashlights, and wear luminous clothing. It starts at 8 at the entrance to Zomerfabriek, Minkelersstraat in Berchem and will conclude at a tba venue, with music and snacks. Check the Facebook event page to register and to be informed of final details. Tim does not charge for these excellent tours, but you can make a donation which will go to Music For Life
Special holiday wishes to everyone at the Antwerp International School which finishes today for the winter break – safe travels and have a wonderful festive season!
At 1pm at bar Bato Batu there’s a record fair -for last minute gifts for the vinyl freak in your life (or for yourself, or course!)
If you are at the Christmas market during the day and are an incomer from abroad to the city of Antwerp, and would like to meet other parents and their kids, then head to Café Den Engel on Groote Markt at 2.30 for this Expat Parents & Kids Party.
Fancy a short trip out of town? Cosplay on ice: Cosplayers of Antwerp will assemble at Antwerp central station at midday and take the bus to Antartica Ice Rink in Wilrijk, returning for 5.30pm. You need the cost of the bus fare + skate hire (don’t forget ID too) which in total comes to E7,25
Improtheatre on Saturday Night: Swaajp describe this as a theatre show full of new stories, surprising adventures with intriguing plot twists, sometimes emotional, frequently hilarious, always made up on the spot. Swaajp Improtheater presents the second episode of their new regular improv theatre show ‘Swaajp Invites’.
Our guest for this show is Flavien Reppert (France). As the director of the Strasbourg-based Cie du Théâtre de l’Oignon, this moustache-bearing Frenchman will astonish you with his many talents, one of which is a delightfully scraping Rrr in his English pronunciation.
When: Sat. 17 December 2016, 20:00
Where: BATS Little Theatre, Paardenmarkt 111, Antwerp
Tickets: €9 via: www.swaajp.be
If you are crafty and like making things, head to Little Brewers Winter Garden at 2pm to make Christmas decorations. There’s also kids’ entertainment and a kids’ play area. These activities take place between 2 -5pm and are free with no pre-registration necessary LBWG is the De Koninck Brewery winter bar which is open until February 19th (you might know the venue from its summer incarnation -Smokey Jo’s).
At 8pm Het Roze Huis will be showing the film The Imitation Game. Het Roze Huis has monthly film screenings for the LGBT community in and around Antwerp, and these are free. I saw The Imitation Game when it came out in cinemas in 2014, and it is well worth seeing.
There’s a Goedgekregen fleamarket down at Eilandje between 9 and 6pm. It’s indoors at ’t Kot (port employment centre), Kempischdok-Westkaai, and is free.
Design Market ‘Ieder Zenne Meug‘ holds a Christmas edition at Zuiderpershuis between 11 and 6pm, and because it is the third Sunday of the month, it’s the book market at de Coninckplein (Permeke library) from 10 until 4pm.
There’s read-aloud for kids aged 4-8 at Permeke library at 11am (free, no registration registration, in Dutch). This weekend the story will have a festive theme.
Shops in the city centre will be open today for Christmas shopping.
The weather is set to be mild and dry again this weekend, with some cloud and fog at times.
May your festive season be all sparkly and completely stress-free!
***Here’s the GOOGLE MAP featuring all the locations for this weekend***
If you are still mourning the loss of the summer bars, you will want to keep an eye out for the Winter bars. Little Brewers Winter Garden (Smokey Jo’s in its summer incarnation) reopens at 6pm on Thursday and will be in operation until February 2017, open on Wednesdays -Sundays. Bar Gloed (winter edition) at the Antwerp Tower on Keyserlei is also open on Wednesdays -Sundays. There’s still a bit of a wait until the city’s ‘Winter In A’ program starts though: that will kick off on December 10th, in the old town .
Regular readers will know how much I and my son enjoyed the Street Art tour of Antwerp. This is a must for street art and graffiti fans, or anyone who simply would like to see the city through a different lens. A lack of Dutch is no barrier: Tim is now provided tours in English, including one this Saturday starting at the Mechelseplein at 11am. Recommended!
Perhaps along a similar vein is the evening event Exposed Music: a guided tour through Antwerp city, with musical experiences and performances in unexpected locations on the way. The tour concludes at midnight in Het Bos with a finale.
Lovely Hand Gemaakt is at Plein Publiek from 11 -5pm. If you need to start your Christmas shopping and can’t face busy shopping streets, this will be a lot more relaxed, and there is the added advantage of supporting the work of local creatives. I picked up quite a few gifts (such as soaps, jewellery) from Hand Gemaakt last year, and they were very well received.
At FOMU and Cinema Zuid (which is in FOMU) there is a program of activities and workshops (yoga; light & photography workshop; family tree workshop; guided tours for kids) for children today, with activities for smalls aged 3+, some are more expensive than others, with the kids’ movies at only 3 euros. For most events, reserve via the links, except for the Smartbox activity, which is only 2 euros and is ongoing throughout the day.
Elsewhere, at various locations, it’s Children’ Art Day in and around Antwerp. Search the site for an activity or workshop for your child(ren) suited to their age(s) and location – these are free.
For Sinterklaas and other children’s gifts, go to The Roma theatre for a second hand market devoted entirely to kids’ toys, books and clothes (1 euro in for adults; 50 cents for kids).
Bargains also to be had in front of the Permeke Library at the monthly boekenplein -graphic novels, second hand books and collectors’ books for sale, from 10am -4pm.
The weather looks not too bad, with a good chance of a dry -and even partly sunny – Saturday, but Sunday likely to be a bit windy, and with some rain.
If you are looking ahead to the winter season and have kids to entertain, I recommend that you book Antwerp’s only traditional, old -school panto in English, for January in the Arendberg Theatre, by BATS theatre group. Another recommended from me -this time it’s Jack and the Beanstalk.
I was asked by a reader to include more random suggestions and recommendations, so here is one which I think is just right for this time of year: Filmhuis Klappei, a little gem of a cinema not far from de Coninckplein. Half the price of mainstream cinemas, and always with an interesting and eclectic program, I haven’t been for a while but am planning to go again soon. Last time I went I saw a Hitchcock film (Marnie) complete with an interesting intro from a movie buff. And the venue was just right for a movie of this type. The bar is also very attractive with old cinema posters and images, so go for a drink beforehand. It’s perfect for an old-fashioned movie date …
If you fancy starting your weekend with cocktails, head to the Zeppelin Bar on Damplein for a cocktail evening starting at 9pm.
If you are in the Borgerhout area, have a look at the schedule for Borger#8 -an annual collection of art events in galleries around Berchem, Zurenborg and Borgerhout, starting at 6pm. The best way to get from gallery to gallery is by bike. If you don’t have one, you might want to think about getting a pass or year card for an Antwerp Velo.
During the afternoon between 1 and 5pm there is a free “Winterfeest” on de Coninckplein
For your evening entertainment: free cinema at Het Roze Huis on Draakplaats in Berchem. You can see Mary Marie (no entrance cost) starting at 8pm.
If you want to be outdoors, have kids to entertain and the weather is not too cold, you might be interested to know that the children’s farm at the Rivierenhof Estate in Deurne is open again after a short winter closure.
Music lovers may want to head to Wally’s Groove World which is holding a new stock sale of “’80s funk, soul, disco, Hip Hop, 90’s house, rave, acid, Retro,techno, tech-house” and promises prices starting at just 1 and 2 euros.
If you are thinking of your holidays then head over to Expo for Vakantiesalon Vlaanderen which will help you decide where to go, and continues over the whole weekend.
For children who like to move and dance you might want to take them to Little Brewers Winter Garden for Dansen Met Lotte at 2pm (all kids) and for children aged 6+ from 4.30pm. LBWG is a large, airy, pop-up bar, which is going to be open until the end of February. It’s a really nice space, with some great beers (although personally I recommend avoiding the Gin Fizz which I had a couple of weeks ago, and is made with beer and raw egg white, and most definitely an acquired taste…) Other than that, a really nice hang- out for chilled weekend afternoons, with or without kids.
On Saturday afternoon there is a free classical concert at Het Steen for anyone who might enjoy a bit of Brahms, Schumann or Haydn. It is free and starts at 5pm, but reserving is recommended by calling 03 202 83 80.
Back to Het Steen: for kids 6+, again there is a workshop and activities based around the theme of Time, at Het Steen. I took my 7 year old son to this last weekend and he really liked it.
The space used for the activities is above the café, and is roomy and attractive. There is no need to register or reserve -you simply walk in and out as you wish from 1pm. It is completely accessible to English speaking children, as well as Dutch speakers.
If you like live music there are a few choices this evening -you might want to start your weekend listening to Kollectiv playing jazz at Cafe Kiebooms on Conninckplein at 9pm; or singer Kuba Kesy at The Irish Times bar on Groote Markt at 10pm. Described as ‘melancholy folk pop’, Second Son Sam will be playing Bar Lucy also at 9pm.
The Christmas market is in full swing and will be on until 3rd January. Go on a clear day for great views from the top of the wheel, down by the Schelde. The bamboo installation on Grote Markt is also very impressive.
If you are looking ahead already, and would like to see a panto in English in the new year, you can order tickets already for the BATS production of Little Red Riding Hood. Guaranteed to provide traditional fun and please children of all ages.
On De Conninckplein, it’s the last day to a “Spiegeltent” which opens on the evening of the 17th December for a four day program by Time Circus. There will be music performances and various activities (face painting, Tibetan music, food workshops) on the De Conninckplein (in front of Permeke library) on the Saturday, which is Family Day.
Christmas day: Shops will be closed; Christmas market will be open; UGC cinema and the zoo will be open; some restaurants will be open and offering Christmas menus. Check for times, as there may be later opening hours for anything that is open. It’s business as usual for Turkish and Moroccan shops.
Have a fantastic Christmas! I will be posting again on a regular basis in 2016, and possibly before then with some suggestions for the days around New Year.
Thanks so much for following; please leave comments, feedbacks and any suggestions for events which you think I should include.