This weekend in Antwerp: 8th, 9th &10th November

The Antwerpen Boekenbeurs 2019 is on for the second (and last) weekend for 2019 in Antwerp Expo. This is a vast bookfair whose history stretches back to 1932. Most books are in Dutch, but there are stands with English and French books.

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The Irish Times pub on Grote Markt is the venue for this Language Swap Event Hosted by The Irish Times and by swaplanguage.com it’s a chance for international people from all walks of life, to meet, network, socialise and broaden their understanding of other cultures and languages. Swap Language starts at 7.30pm.

Saturday

Local producers’ market Kraakvers is on Sint Andriesplaats today from 10am -3pm. Kraakvers also locally made food products -including beers, preserves, honey and bread – as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.

Along similar lines, there is more good news for local, organic and sustainable shoppers in Antwerp: The Bio Barn (pic below, courtesy of Bio Barn) opens its doors for the first time, on Verlatstraat at 10am this weekend. The Bio Barn already has branches in Brussels, and is coming to Antwerp too -it’s a covered market selling fresh and local sustainably- sourced produce, with less packaging.

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Sunday

Full Circle Antwerp is a one day and night festival in Antwerp. It is ticketed and there are still some tickets remaining which you can order here. With day and night programmes, Full Circle hosts events at 12 venues across the city. This vinyl market at de Studio is a free event, however.

Brrrr …. it’s definitely getting chillier now that we are into November. Temperatures will be no higher than 10 degrees this weekend, BUT at least it looks like it will be dry this weekend.

Miscellaneous

This week I published a special post featuring photographs taken by people like myself who are not Antwerp born-and-bred but who have made their home in Antwerp: check out these beautiful images of the city.

Monday 11th November (Armistice Day) is a public holiday in Belgium and Goegekregen vintage and second-hand market will be on Theaterplein.

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De Grote Schijn takes place each evening until 11th November (ticketed) – it’s a special route through the Rivierenhof which sees the estate transformed into a magical fantasy land of light and colour. The route is about 2km long and you can walk through it at your own pace enjoying the spectacle. Tickets via the link.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 1st, 2nd & 3rd November

Thursday 31st is Hallowe’en of course – for Hallowe’en fun you will find plenty going on at Antwerp’s Irish bars, all of which like to celebrate this date, with drinks promos & gamesdress-up parties and quizzes.

The Antwerpen Boekenbeurs 2019 is underway in Antwerp Expo and continues over the weekend. This is a vast bookfair whose history stretches back to 1932. Most books are in Dutch, but there are stands with English and French books.

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Dia De Los Meurtos (Mexican Day of The Dead) is also marked here in Antwerp: last weekend I went to see the beautiful altars on display in MAS museum, and this weekend parts of that exhibition move to Permeke Library. You can see the programme here.

Friday

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Day of the Dead in Antwerp

Friday is a public holiday in Belgium (All Saints Day) so most shops will be closed, but Goegekregen are holding a holiday Rommelmarkt on Theaterplein.

For kids interested in Day of The Dead festivities there is a programme of events at Zuiderpershuis for children from midday until 5pm. This costs 5 euros (family discounts available) and there are workshops, make-up, snacks and activities throughout the afternoon.

In the afternoon/ evening (3pm-8pm) it’s the last chance to catch Dokmarkt at Eilandje for this year.
Saturday

If you are interested in trying vegan food and products, or would like to get information about including less meat, fish and dairy in your diet, the health-food shop Natuurhuis on Otto Veniusstraat are holding an in-store info day in conjunction with Try Vegan and EVA, from 10am -4pm.

Look out for the Royal British Legion selling poppies on Meir between 11am- 4pm. Poppies are worn annually as an act of remembrance of those who have lost their lives in conflicts around the world and those who have been killed as a result of terrorism. Additionally the poppy represents the contribution of families and of the emergency services.

Sunday

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Antwerp Cathedral seen from Suikerrui

On the first Sunday of the month you can hear music for free in the Cathedral at 4pm. NB: it’s only free for locals, or kids aged 0-11, so bring your ID to show that you are an Antwerp resident, otherwise it’s the same price as the usual entry cost to the Cathedral (6 euros; 4 euros concession).

It’s the first Sunday of the month, so shops are open from midday on various Antwerp shopping streets.

Weather is not looking great this weekend -bring an umbrella with you, as rain is expected on and off over the whole weekend. It’s not going to be very warm either, with top temperatures of around 13- 14 degrees.

Miscellaneous

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De Grote Schijn takes place each evening until 11th November (ticketed) – it’s a special route through the Rivierenhof which sees the estate transformed into a magical fantasy land of light and colour. The route is about 2km long and you can walk through it at your own pace enjoying the spectacle. Tickets via the link.
Look out for a special Nessascityblog post on Monday – a picture post featuring photos taken by people who have come from all over the world to live in Antwerp.

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Need a helping hand getting used to Antwerp life? Meet Wwelcome!

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1) Please tell us about Wwelcome: when, how and why it came to be established.

Wwelcome was established one year ago on April 1st 2018. While working for an insurance company, the two founders discovered a great need for personal assistance with the various sorts of documentation required of newcomers to Belgium.

Even though some organisations (including governmental) already provide administrative assistance, newcomers sometimes had challenging or negative experiences when trying to get their paperwork in order .

Our organisation supports immigrants to Belgium with whichever issues they bring to the table. It’s our mission to make them feel at home here: hence, Wwelcome.

2) What services do you offer and how are these funded?

Over the past year, we have noticed a great variety in the types of support that people need. Therefore we mostly operate in a Q&A style. Our members bring us letters, bills and contracts to translate and explain, or various application forms to enter. Sometimes, they ask for advice about immigration, naturalisation, buying a house or getting a divorce.

Next to explaining and offering advice, we mediate on behalf of our members with the government, insurance and energy companies, realtors, banks, employers, schools and landlords. Though we are not lawyers or accountants, we are the link between our members and these specialists.

All of this we provide for a monthly subscription of €10 (our “All-You-Can-Eat” formula!). If people prefer, we can also service for €10 per hour.

In addition we can accompany people to the hospital, police, OCMW, or any place else in order to interpret. We offer discounts at our partner organisations and various stores such as IKEA, Carrefour and Kinepolis. The more members we have, the bigger the discounts we can offer.

For business owners, we offer the above and a number of additional services. We support them with taking the first steps in establishing their business, creating financial plans, understanding social and health requirements, applying for loans and by advertising them through our media platforms. Business owners pay a different membership fee, depending on the type and size of their business.

3) What are the most common challenges or difficulties experienced by newcomers to Antwerp?

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8 different languages are spoken by Wwelcome staff

The most common challenges that are brought to our attention are firstly,  communication and arranging matters with the government and aligned associations. Bureaucracies are not always open-minded or willing to communicate in English, and people often don’t know what they are expected to do next. Even for Dutch-speakers, it is often difficult to grasp what is meant by some of the letters newcomers receive. Secondly, problems with justifying bills: many people just pay the invoice as is, even though they could reduce a payment by giving the correct information and not have to pay the (entire) bill. This means they avoid paying for a service that they don’t receive or don’t want.

4) Many are concerned by the rise in populism across Europe at the moment, and the racism, anti-immigrant or xenophobic feelings which accompany this rise. Is this something that is a you notice here in your work, or in your personal experiences?

We don’t come across direct racism. However, many people experience discrimination at an institutional level (government or companies) due to the fact that they cannot advocate for themselves in Dutch.

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Helping clients and partners alike

We notice that sometimes organisations (also landlords, employers and even business partners) try to outsmart our members. However, when we make the call or write the mail, they are quick to respond with “sorry, yes, I understand…”.

There also happens to be a rule that for administrative *Artikel 60 work, Muslim women are required to take off their scarf. If they don’t, they are fired and lose their allowance.

5) In your line of work, what does success look like?

Everyday success for us is bringing peace of mind to our members, resolving their worries and offering an optimistic view of their future.

Long-term success would be a flourishing organisation throughout Europe where we can touch the lives of millions of immigrants; welcoming them with open arms and providing an antidote to the negative populist voices. When people feel welcome, they are keen to contribute positively to the communities that they have made their home.

Wwelcome is located at Bredabaan 371 in Merksem. If you’re coming by tram, then trams 2 & 3 stop almost outside our office at the stop called Burgemeester Nolf.

*Artikel 60 is an employment opportunity arranged by the OCMW for people on a government allowance or those who have no income at all. 
For more info see: https://www.mi-is.be/nl/artikel-60-ss-7

Useful Wwelcome links

Wwelcome website                      Facebook

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 1st, 2nd & 3rd February

Friday

ghostwalkThank you, Antwerp Ghostwalk, for getting in touch this week with the following information about two special walks for English speakers, one of which is happening this Friday:

We have a new storyteller:  Lieven is a true fan of Anglosaxon ghostwalk traditions and has toured the U.K. to experience many different urban ghost tours.  We combined his passion with our longstanding expertise in providing entertaining English language ghostwalks, balancing ghostly atmosphere with some typical Antwerp flair and peculiar local folk stories. This brings the original “Antwerp Ghostwalk” to a new level.
we have sessions planned at 
– Friday February 1st at 8PM (this Friday)

– Friday March 1st at 8PM  

Visit the website for more information and tickets, or check out the Ghostwalk Facebook page.

Saturday

Another event of interest to English speakers is the Philosophy Café in Den Hopsack bar, between 2pm and 5pm –  it’s a discussion group: no previous experience necessary, just order a beer and join in, or listen.

In Koning Albertpark there’s a free Winter Lights Festival festival from 3pm until 11.30pm with performances, music, DJs and games. Children may bring lanterns, and the park will be illuminated with lights as it gets darker.

Sunday

It’s the first Sunday of the month so shops in and around the centre town will be open for “Winkel Zondag”. NB. many shops open a little later on Shopping Sunday; usually at midday.

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There’s music in the cathedral on the first Sunday of each month too, in the Sacraments’ Chapel at 4pm. This is free to residents of Antwerp (on provision of proof that you’re a local). I believe an ID card counts as evidence if the place of issue is Antwerp. Otherwise it is 6 euros to go in (indeed the Cathedral is always free to Antwerp residents).

Rugby Fans!  Come and enjoy the first Antwerp Derby of 2019, as Antwerp RC host local rivals, RC Schilde to Wilrijkse Plenin!

The 2nd XV will kick off the afternoon with a 1pm kick off before the 1st XV face each other at 3pm.

Sadly the weather outlook is not great and there is the chance of rain on all days this weekend. Temps are around 6 degrees.
Miscellaneous

Legends of Liondance continues at Permeke library 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.

cork-738603_640How do you make it as a new business in Antwerp? Check back into Nessascityblog again on Monday for a special post about a unique Antwerp start-up (also a must for any readers who like wine …)

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This weekend in Antwerp: 8th, 9th & 10th December

HERE IS YOUR FESTIVE GOOGLE MAP!

Friday

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OLV Cathedral and Christmas Market

If you can’t quite wait for the Winter fare available at the Christmas market (see Saturday) then winter bar Aspen Bocadero has just opened at Waagnatie.
Saturday

It’s a big day in the Antwerp calendar:  today marks the start of Winter In Antwerp. If you have lived in Antwerp for more than a year, then you will know that Winter in A means that the historic centre is lit up for the Christmas season. It’s a lot more than a Christmas market -you will find festive activities on Steenplein, Suikerrui, Grote Markt, Handschoenmarkt and Groenplaats. When I walked through last weekend preparations were well underway, with the market stands in place on Grote Markt and the ice rink ready to go on Groenplaats. There will also be a big wheel, and tubing on Steenplein for the kids.

The full program for the opening can be found on the Stad Antwerp website, but basically at 11am on Saturday all the attractions which locals associate with #winterinA  will open. Let the glühwein flow …

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Tubing on Steenplein

 

At Costa Sint Andries there is a “Geefplein” -giving market. Bring your second hand items (in good condition) to give away for free from 11- 18h. The Geefplein is about recycling, freecycling and sharing in the community.

Sunday

If you have kids who like making things, trundle them along to the Permeke library from 11am to take part this craft activity, where they can make a Christmas star decoration.

Shops in Antwerp will be open for Sunday shopping today, and on Sundays throughout December in Antwerp -including on Christmas Eve.

Alternatively, shop for something local and a little bit different at the last edition of Markt van Morgen of 2017 on the Kloosterstraat from midday until 6pm. Jewellery, accessories, cool tees, stationery and household items which you won’t find in the high street stores. Also featuring Comfort Food Truck, DJs and gluhwein.

It’s the annual Victorian Christmas Walk -pull on your bonnet and your finest muffler and set off from the zoo at 1pm.

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It’s going to be really quite cold, so wrap up warm (or buy hats, scarves and gloves from the Christmas market!) and there may even be snow on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday showers are possible.

 

Miscellaneous

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Spotted by Locals

I was delighted to learn this week that Nessascityblog was listed by Spotted by Locals in their list of Best Antwerp Blogs 2017. Spotted by Locals provides city tips from people who live in the cities featured. There is also a Spotted By Locals app.

There’s currently a small fun fair on Sint Jansplein.

China Light has opened at Antwerp Zoo. It’s a little bit more expensive than the events I usually include here, but it has become something of an annual feature of the Antwerp winter scene, and -if it’s dry – it’s worth seeing. The colours and lights are pretty and magical. It’s on until the 14th January.

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China Light at Antwerp Zoo

 And on Monday, look out for a special Nessascityblog post about English speaking theatre in Antwerp, and an upcoming BATS production which will please theatre-goers of all ages …

 

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