The Big Fat Summer Post 2017

sun-159392_640This post covers the next month while I am on holiday (even bloggers need a break from time to time). The first section lists some ongoing activities, whilst the second section lists specific activities and events by date.

I’ll be back at the start of August -if you feel so inclined you can follow my #nessascityblogUSA adventures on Instagram

In the meantime, here are some Antwerp highlights which I am sorry to be missing   …

During or throughout July

ZVAflagFThe most useful thing to know is the Zomer van Antwerpen website, which lists all the special summer events provided by the City of Antwerp, including theatre performances, summer bars, live music and Cinema Urbana (outdoor cinema venue next to The Schelde, opens in August). You can also buy tickets for those events which are not free, but many are, as is access to the summer bars of course.  Zomerfabriek has a bit more of a clubby vibe to it, while the Zomerbar on Sloepenweg has a very broad appeal, and is probably better for younger kids -there’s a playground as well as an outdoor library there. Muziek in de Wijk is pretty much as the name (Music in the Neighbourhood) suggests -stages with live music on local squares or parks, and is free. Again, these are very much occasions for all ages and there are refreshments available. It’s a good chance to hear some local bands. Other summer bars which I really like are Bar Noord in Park Spoor Noord and Smokey Jo’s Cantina -both kid-friendly, also Bar Paniek right next to the water on the Kattendijkdok.

 

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Antwerp Summer Bars

Another special program of summer performances and music can be found at the Openlucht Theater (OLT) at Rivierenhof (Open Air Theatre) which is a really nice place to see a band on a summer’s evening. Order tickets via the site (some sell out quickly and more well known performers are already sold out) but there are also free shows on Fridays (search for Gratis Vrijdagen) .

And the View on The Zoo ferris wheel is on Astridplein throughout July

The Sinksenfoor (funfair) is open daily in Park Spoor Oost until 9th July.

For kids up to the age of 13, there is Speel-O-Rama in the Zuiderpershuis every week day for 2 euros per kid (17th July -11th August)

During summer Antwerp offers two open-air swimming pools which are now open! It is free to swim at Boekenberg, but there is a small entrance charge at the Linkeroever pool (it is also recommended that you have a 1 euro coin with you to use the lockers; and your A-kaart, if you have one).

Buurtpleintjes is an initiative from Stad Antwerpen offering free sporting activities on local squares around the city. Last year, my son really enjoyed a series of free basketball lessons on Sint Andriesplaats as part of this initiative. Start by checking here to see what’s on offer near you.

A grab-bag of events in order of date…

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Saturday July 1st You can join a ghostwalk for 7,50, starting at 7pm from Steen

Sunday 2nd July: Goegekregen in the Stadspark these are always big and very sociable. There’s pretty much nothing you can’t get on the cheap here -including- usually – a haircut.

Sunday 2nd July: First Sunday of the month means Sunday shopping in Antwerp

Weekend 1st & 2nd July: Opening of the Port of Antwerp water-bus route. Activities and entertainment on Steenplein from 9am

Weekend 1st & 2nd July: Ramblas ‘beach’ party on the Falconplein and nearby streets. Lots of sand, music, cocktails, kids’ fun, vintage & flea markets from 10 -6pm both days.

Friday July 7th: Aper’eau on Theaterplein, Drinks, snacks, DJs. From 5- midnight

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Saturday 8th July: Dancing in the Stadspark from 3pm – midnight. Fun, free, kid-friendly (at least for the earlier part of the party) Also Sunday 9th July

Sunday 9th July Muziek in de Wijk is on Krugerplein, Borgerhout from 2pm

Tuesday 11th July: Vlaanderen Feest Dag celebrating Flanders and the Flemish Community –check here for the program in Antwerp (note that there are also events in the days running up to the 11th of July itself). There are kids shows on Groenplaats from midday until 6pm (Studio 100). The Feest Dag finishes on Grotemarkt with a party at night from 7.30.

Saturday 15th July: Free Salsa dancing at Bar Noord (Park Spoor Noord) from 6.30pm

Sunday 16th July: Swan Market is on Grote Markt from 11am -6pm (accessories, food, music, clothes, jewellery, interiors) and Boekenplein (second hand books & graphic novels) is on de Coninckplein in front of the library from 10am.

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21st July Fete des Belges / Nationale feestdag van België/ Belgischer Nationalfeiertag

Friday July 21st:  It is Belgium’s National Day and a public holiday

Friday July 21st: Re:set fleamarket at Het Eiland from 11am -5.30. Last time I went to Het Eiland it was a little quiet in terms of the stands (I guess some stand holders are on their summer holidays) but even so, it is worth going to Het Eiland to see the location. A relaxed bar with a great view of MAS. This is a pop-up in the Port of Antwerp old harbour building.

and a (free) Roller Disco on Dageraadplaats from 11am -10pm, with food, music, yoga and art installations.

 

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Antwerp Museums

 

Wednesday July 26th -City of Antwerp museums are FREE on the last Wednesday of the month

and Brocantwerpen is on the Grote Markt (10am -6pm)

Friday 28th July -Critical Mass. Assemble 6pm on Theaterplein with your bike for an hour’s cycling round Antwerp and help reclaim the street for bikes.

Saturday July 29th You can join a ghostwalk for 7,50, starting at 7pm from Steen

Sunday 30th July –Lambermontmartre art market from midday

Lastly a random tip …botannicsF

If the activity and heat of summer in the city get a bit much, did you know that Antwerp has a Botanical Garden?  It’s a haven of green and peace. Sit on the lawns or benches, or wander through to the back and find De Serre

 

 

And so …

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Enjoy July in beautiful Antwerp! I hope this post serves as a useful pick ‘n’ mix for the time that there are no weekly posts. Feel free to add comments & ideas in the below. See y’all in August!

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JULY

And please don’t forget that I am still looking for guest posts -if you have some free time over the holiday period, you might like to think about telling YOUR Antwerp story on Nessascityblog. Don’t forget to find me on social media, where additional events and locations are also posted:

 

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Instagram

Facebook (in conjunction with London Calling)

Twitter

Pinterest

Antwerp with Kids

Out and about in Antwerp.

This post is about hanging out in Antwerp with kids, and is especially for the grandparents of my kids who do so much to look after our two youngest, when their school holidays do not coincide with ours.

In summer, keeping kids entertained is pretty easy. When the sun shines there are so many parks and pop- up bars with play areas and activities that it’s not hard to find somewhere budget- friendly to take them to each day, where adults will also be able to relax. The parks and play areas we most commonly visit are Stadspark (also has a skate park), Park Spoor Noord, the play area at the Gedempte zuiderdokken (kaaien) and the play area on Dageraadplaats in the Zurenborg area. The scenic Rivierenhof also has a lot of space and a play area for kids and it’s a lovely place to walk and get away from the city if you need some peace.

Stadspark
Stadspark

In autumn, when the weather turns colder, it is not always so simple, so this a brief guide to some of the places we like to go with our kids, when the weather is no longer so warm.

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The most obvious choices in the centre of town are the zoo and Comics Station , which are both good days out, but not cheap, especially if you are taking a few kids. At time of writing (October 2015) the zoo is undergoing renovation in some parts, meaning that some animals are not around, and there are parts which are occupied by building works. On the other hand, the aquarium section is finished and open and is a huge improvement on what was previously there. If you live in Antwerp, you may want to consider buying a year pass to make your visits more cost effective. I would also recommend keeping costs down by bringing your own picnic. There is a new restaurant in the zoo (La Latteria) and although the venue itself is very attractive, being one of the old zoo buildings, the food is nothing special and it is not cheap, again, especially if you are there with a few mouths to feed.

Flamingos at Antwerp Zoo
Flamingos at Antwerp Zoo

When we are sloping around town, there are two cafés in particular which welcome children and have facilities for them. The first is on Theatreplein (where the market is) and is called Het Geluk. It looks like a regular café, but is geared to kids and families. Because the outside area is covered, it is a good way to get kids out and about with their own trikes, scooters, bikes, roller skates etc in a place that they can use them, even if it is raining. Additionally, there is a play corner, and a selection of toys and games which the kids can borrow while they are there by asking at the bar and leaving their name. Het Geluk is open from Wednesday – Sunday.

Het Geluk is part of the theatre Het Paleis which runs performances and shows for children. These are in Dutch. They also run workshops and activities during the Belgian school holidays. You can pick up a programme or go along to the theatre for information and leaflets. I am sure they would also be happy to advise you which activities would be suitable for kids who do not speak Dutch. Theater performances and drama activities for kids can also be found at De Studio.

Pick up a programme for Het Paleis
Pick up a programme for Het Paleis

Affiliated to Het Geluk is Het Steen (open on Wednesdays- Sundays) which also offers a play area and toys within the café. During summer there is a water and sand play area at the back of the café. Het Steen also runs educational themed workshops during the holidays and at weekends. They have an atelier below the café where these take place. They are usually aimed at kids aged 6+ and are in Dutch. I like this café because of its location in the historic part of town, by the river.  At both Het Steen and Het Geluk, food and drinks are very reasonably priced, with a large bowl of soup for example, costing only 4 euros.

I haven’t been to Plaasj Kaffee yet, but I am planning to at some point this autumn or winter as I have heard good things about it and it has play areas for kids which are both outdoor and covered. It’s also a bit away from the city centre, being on Linkeroever (other side of the river) over the water from the Eilandje area.

Also over the water is Antwerp Bowling . It’s very easy to reach by bike, tram or car. It’s certainly a pricier way to kill an afternoon than Het Geluk or Het Steen but my kids always have a good time here. For younger kids, there is a soft play and climbing area which they really like. This costs 5 euros for unlimited play. The food and drinks are moderately priced. Antwerp Bowling is open seven days per week. Our son also had a really good birthday party here one year. The staff are efficient, friendly and used to children.

Cinemas in town include The UGC on Keyserlei, right in front of Central Station, Kinepolis just outside of town, to the north on Groenendaallan (Tram 6) and Cartoons cinema (open Thursday -Sunday) on Kasstraat in the old town (off Suikerrui, in front of the cathedral). Cartoons also has a really nice basement bar/ café.

It’s cheap to go swimming in Antwerp, but you do need to check the website to ensure that you turn up at the right times for public swimming, as some hours are set aside for particular groups of swimmers (e.g. women only). The two closest pools to the city centre are Zwembad Plantin Moretus and Sportoase. Note that pools can also be a bit strict about suitable swimwear: guys are expected to wear swimming trunks, but not long beach-style shorts or itsy bitsy speedos. If you forget, you can usually purchase a pair at the pool. If you have long hair, make sure you tie it back.

For workshops and activities for children during holidays and half-terms, it is worth keeping an eye on the many museums in Antwerp. As well as being worth a family visit, they sometimes have special activities for kids. My son enjoyed a workshop at Mayer van den Bergh museum and also at The Museum of Modern Art which is near the river and the kaaien. MAS and The Red Star Line Museum also have activities for kids. Note that for workshops, children may need to reserve places online, in advance.

The Permeke Library on De Coninckplein (near China town area) also has a programme (again in Dutch) of reading and activities for children.

If you live in Antwerp and often make use of the city facilities (e.g. swimming pools, museums, library) then you will get reductions if you get an A -Kaart. You can get them at any venue where a reduction is given for card holders (I got mine at the Red Star Line Museum) or at the Districtshuis.