This weekend in Antwerp: 28th, 29th & 30th June

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Summer is underway and it’s the last day of school on Friday. There are a lot of inexpensive events to enjoy, and new places to hangout. This is a great link which provides the names and locations of all the summer bars in Antwerp!

Friday

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Sint-Andriesplaats

Music, food, DJs, performance and kids games and entertainment at the Sint Andries Feesten  (pic right)from 3pm, in the square (Sint-Andriesplaats).

Circus Boelaere takes place over the whole weekend and has an extensive program of music, workshops, kids’ entertainment with a circus theme. It also comes with a reader recommendation from a local who got in touch to recommend that it be included in this week’s post!

Bar Oost also opens this weekend in Park Spoor Oost and they are holding their opening weekend (same venue as Sinksenfoor).

Take part in the monthly Critical Mass bike ride, starting as usual on Theaterplein at 6pm

Aper’eau  are on Leopold de Waalplaats -that’s the square right in front of the fine arts museum (aka KMSKA) with summer cocktails, wines and beers, DJs, and al fresco drinking from 5pm -11pm

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lots on for Beer lovers this weekend!

Down at the Seefbeer brewery and cafe, they’re holding a beergarden opening with festivities continuing over the weekend, starting at 3pm on Friday and including live music, a BBQ and a bouncy castle for the kids. Seef makes some really good beers and this is a lovely, slightly out-of-the way venue -recommended!

And there’s even more for beerlovers: all weekend on Groenplaats it’s the annual Bierpassie Weekend!

Saturday

kiloAt Plein Publiek there’s another vintage Kilo Sale from 12 -5pm, where as the name suggests you make your vintage/ retro/ pre-loved clothing purchases by the kilo (20 euros per kilo).

Lovers of street art should head to the Permeke Library reading garden (leestuin) today where street art festival Colours of Antwerp is taking place; check the agenda on the link since some activities require pre-registration. Most of them are free, except the tour led by Antwerp’s most popular and knowledgeable street art guide, Tim Marschang.

The ZOO summer bar opens today at 4pm; it’s a real little oasis of a summer bar just next to the flamingos at the zoo entrance and a lovely place to hang out right in the centre, next to the station, with frequent live music performances on the bandstand. ZOOmerbar is open until 19th August.

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The Zoo Summer Bar (pic by Zoo Antwerpen)

triodesfemmeRound off your Saturday with something a bit different in the form of this boisterous performance hosted by Antwerp’s English speaking theatre group Mixed and United, welcoming Trio de Femmes (pic right) and their show Girly Show: What We Sacrifice For The Dream of Love. Tickets 10euros, via email to info@mixedandunited.be
(stating: 1. show name: GirlyShow & 2. Names of the attendees).
Sunday

Fabric and craft fans, today is your day: it’s the fabric market on Grote Markt  brought to you by Stoffencircus from 10am -5pm, for all your stitching, sewing and fabric needs.

Around the St Pauluskerk area it’s the Utopia Festival -see the link for the full programme which comprises music, reading, guided tours and kids’ activities.

There’s an hour’s free zumba in the Harmoniepark from 4-5pm.

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Lambermontmartre

It’s the second Lambermontmartre of the season: Antwerp’s most relaxed and friendly art market, Lambermontmartre takes place in front of KMSKA on five Sundays over summer from midday until 5pm. It supports local artists in selling their work and is the perfect way to spend a stress-free summer afternoon. There’s always a band; snacks and drinks for sale and some kid-friendly art activities too.

Not only is Plantin Moretus an amazing place to visit because of what is inside the museums, but also because of what is outside and today is the day to go and find out about their historical gardens because it’s Open Gardens 2019 which is an annual event run by Open Tuinen VZW. This is an extra activity provided for visitors to the museum today (so you do need to pay the cost of visiting the museum, which is a must in itself)

Miscellaneous

 

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Bolt (source: Instagram)

The most important thing in this section this week is Bolt The Bearded Dragon! Just before term ended, I had the pleasure of guest-teaching a class of young bloggers at Antwerp International School who were improving their English skills by beginning blogs and writing blog entries. They all made amazing blogs, but this blog post was voted as the best one: it’s by Julian who blogs about looking after his fascinating and unusual pet -a very handsome bearded dragon who goes by the name of Bolt. Please have a look and give him a LIKE to encourage this young blogger -keep on writing, Julian!

(NB: Bolt also has his own Instagram account!)

On Monday last week, I published a helpful guest post by Jon Kemp all about how and where to learn Dutch in Antwerp

It’s truly summer when Summer HQ opens in the form of the Zomerbar on Sloepenweg which it did on the 24th June (last Monday) at 2pm. It’s a familiar and essential summer hangout that’s very relaxed and kid-friendly. Note: Stad Antwerp summer bars will be cashless this year.

The complete Antwerp summer programme (Zomer van Antwerpen) was released on 28th May at http://www.zva.be/ -get in quick for ticketed events that you are interested in. Helpfully, there are English and French versions of the programme in downloadable pdf form.

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

Friday

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

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

Saturday

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Eilandje

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

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

 

Sunday

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

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

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

Miscellaneous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Antwerp was at the centre of an information revolution

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

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

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

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The museum is also a favourite of my daughter

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

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

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

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

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

Music website :  www.danmcb.com

Audio electronics : www.mcbeeaudiolabs.com

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