This weekend in Antwerp: 13th, 14th & 15th September

There are a three fun festivals taking place over the whole weekend this weekend. They are Ramblas AntwerpenZuiderburen and Part of Antwerp. Las Ramblas in particular is lots of fun and very family friendly -the food, street theatre, and music which form this big neighbourhood event reflect the variety of communities which can be found around this part of town, and it’s really a great street party. It starts at 6pm on Friday, and the full list of events and performances can be found on the site if you click on “programma”.

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Ramblas Antwerpen

Zuiderburen takes place on the other side of town, in the area in front of the Gallery of Fine Art (aka. KMSKA). It’s on over Saturday and Sunday. The full programme is on their site under “Timetable”.

Screenshot 2019-09-11 at 18.24.41Part of Antwerp is a five week festival celebrating the harbour, and Antwerp’s status as a port city. It’s a mix of free and paying events and continues until next weekend.

And Comic Con Antwerp 2019  takes place on Saturday and Sunday (this is a ticketed event) for lovers of sc-fi, manga, comics, fantasy and cosplay.

 Friday

Start the weekend at Antwerp’s most sky-line altering building: it’s Aper’eau on Zaha Hadidplein from 5pm, or not far away at Dokmarkt near MAS (from 3pm).

Saturday

Saturday seems to be market day in Antwerp this weekend: as Part of Antwerp, there’s this retro and vintage market from midday until 6pm (again on the Zaha Hadidplein) and also offering food trucks and live music -all with a retro feel.

Over in the Dam area of the city from 8.30am Damsefeesten Rommelmarkt will be one enormous second-hand trading area, as this market takes up a number of streets: Twee Netenstraat, Lange Lobroekstraat, Rupelstraat, Demerstraat, Dijlestraat and Weilandstraat -all car-free -until 5.30pm

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Rommelmarkt in the Dam area

Kraakvers is a local food market for fresh and homemade produce. Find them on Sint Andriesplaats between 10am and 3pm, and if you are recently arrived in Antwerp, you will want to know about the biggest weekly food market in Antwerp, weekly on Saturdays on the Theaterplein and Oude Vaartplaats.

If dancing and coffee are more your thing, check out this Antwerp Underground festival organised by Viggo’s coffee car on de Coninckplein. I like this coffee shop, so this might be fun -mainly electronic music, and some food, from 2pm -10pm
Mollys30

There’ll be another fun party happening at Molly’s -one of Antwerp’s Irish bars (on the Jesuitenrui) as the pub celebrates its 30th birthday from 2pm. Swing by if you are in the old town; the Jesuitenrui is always car-free, which means space for revellers on the street. Enjoy plenty of music and food: the party continues until the taps run dry.

 

Sunday

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de langste veggie tafel

Every year, Antwerp holds a car-free Sunday (it should hold more of these) when locals can claim the streets for their own activity, and also explore alternative forms of personal transport in a fun way. There is a variety of events and activities on around the city, including on Groenplaats, Operaplein, and the Kaaien. Do not try to drive into the city between 10am and 6pm. If you have kids to entertain the Schedekaaien will be the best destination for you; cyclists will enjoy the bike based activities on Operaplein, but there are many, many additional activities which are listed hereI definitely recommend the veggie table (pic left) on Grote Markt for foodies.

There’s more street theatre and entertainment for children from Sinjor Circo: this weekend on Sint Andriesplaats from 1pm -6pm.

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Antwerp City Park (stadspark)

There’s also the monthly second hand book and magazine market on de Coninckplein from 10am until 4pm, or another enormous second hand market as Goegekregen bring their usual neighbourhood mix of selling and socialising to the Stadspark from 9am- 6pm.
The weather is not looking too bad; after a week which saw some distinctly autumnal temperatures, it should be mild and dry, with Sunday seeing an upturn in sun and warmth with top temps of 25 degrees.

 

Miscellaneous

 

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Bike path on Linkeroever

Last weekend I rode my bike with my daughter, simultaneously with women riding in the UK (a female peloton), to support The NIA Project -an organisation which provides essential support and services to women and girls who are victims of violence. The Ride For Murdered Women was organised by UK feminist and campaigner Jean Hatchet. We rode from Opera Plein in a circular route which took in Linkeroever and we saw some surprising sights on the way (see the Instagram shot below). Violence against women and girls is a problem all over the world. I do not ask for any donations to this blog, not do I make money from it but if you have some spare euros I would encourage you to donate to this to support the services we rode for last weekend, via Jean’s Just Giving page .

The peloton might become annual; give us a shout if you are a woman aged 18+ and you’d like to help make the Antwerp branch of the ride grow, by joining us next year.

 

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This weekend in Antwerp: 31st May, 1st & 2nd June

macaroons-1957310_640There’s a few two-three day events this weekend, and if you are a food and drink lover (that’s a polite way of saying GLUTTON)  it’s going to be a great (if expensive) weekend for you, as with a little planning you could eat and drink your way along the Schelde from Friday to Sunday (even from Thursday if you are already peckish).

Down on the Plantinkaai it’s Fiesta Europa – this is a fun mix of  on-the-spot eating, drink ing and socialising, and a market with plenty of stands selling food products to take home: European products are central, so plenty in the way of great cheeses, meats, olives, honeys and tapenades. Food and drink stands a-plenty throughout means it’s a fun hang-out if the weather is good, especially since the event is always kid-friendly (yes, there is the obligatory bouncy castle!). Thanks to reader, Arwin, for reminding me about this event!

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HAP Festival is another food festival, this one is more focussed on food trucks and hip street food. It’s on Steenplein and although can be pricey. It’s not kid-unfriendly, but Fiesta Europa is better if you have small people to consider.

Antwerp Wine Festival is also on Steenplein; this is more for the grown-ups for obvious reasons, and wines from 12 different countries form the centre of this event.

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And last, but by no means least, one of my absolutely favourite events of the year De Quaeye Werelt! In which the Rivierenhof is transformed into a bustling medieval community of  traders, knights, noblemen and ladies, and artisans of every type. Re-enactors hold a noisy battle. It’s the historical element which makes this event so special

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re-enactors at De Quaeye Werelt

(it’s 1477) as well as the good natured, enthusiastic and friendly atmosphere created by everyone who takes part. There’s loads of cheap, hearty food and affordable drinks -if the weather is nice bring a picnic blanket and settle in for the day. The kids will love the battle, the puppet show and the costumes (but the littlest ones might want ear-defenders if they are near the battle, which is very loud indeed).

Friday

If you’re worried about what all this will do to your waistline, why not join Critical Mass for their monthly bike ride through the streets of Antwerp? Assemble at 6pm at Theaterplein, with your bike as usual. I expect Critical Mass will still be riding high on the buzz created by last weekend’s fantastic Critical Mass Belgium ride, and party at Park Spoor Noord, which is captured in this footage made by Critical Mass riders from Brussels who looked as though they enjoyed themselves here in Antwerp!

 

Aper’eau will be on Antwerp’s newest outdoor party place: Operaplein from 5pm to start the weekend with their usual blend of outdoor drinking, summer cocktails and DJs.

Saturday

For a more local food experience, farmers’ market Kraakvers are in Borgerhout on the Vincottestraat from 10am-3pm.

Sunday

vegansstuffAnother healthy food option could be Vegan Vibes Picnic at Park Spoor Noord from 11am- 7pm. Food trucks and stands selling vegan only options – see the link for the exact location (it is near – but not right at – Bar Noord).

If you cannot eat another thing, maybe a browse round this vinyl market would suit you. It’s at Giraffenplein (behind of the zoo) and hosted by Vitesse Coffee & Cycling.

Finally a reminder that it’s Sunday Shopping in Antwerp, and the regular shops will be open too, in the main shopping areas of the city, like Meir, Nationalestraat Kammenstraat and Kloosterstraat.

A warm and dry (though sometimes cloudy) weekend is predicted, with possible top temps as high as 27 degrees (Sunday).

Miscellaneous

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

nature-4202726_640You may remember Daniel McBrearty from his fascinating guest post on Nessascityblog all about the Plantin Moretus museum. Daniel has launched a campaign in Belgium to persuade the supermarket chain Colruyt to reduce plastic packaging and single-use plastics in their stores. Please support the campaign! You can listen to him explain its reasoning in this short film, and the links to the campaign are here (in English), here (in het Nederlands) and here (en Francais).

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It’s very nearly show time at BATS VZW don’t forget to order your tickets for their annual show via their website -this year’s extravanganza promises to be a riot of colour and fun.

Runners: you can now register for the Reuzenloop in Borgerhout (choose from runs of 4, 8 or 12 km; there is also a free kids’ run). This takes place on the 9th June: click on ‘schrijf hier in!’ to sign up.

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This weekend in Antwerp: 26th, 27th, 28th April (& May 1st).

There’s a three day festival over the whole of this weekend on the Moorkensplein (Borgerhout). The Fiesta Fortuna starts on Friday at 17.30h and continues until Sunday night. Here’s the full programme. This event is hosted by arts organisation Madam Fortuna which is based in Borgerhout and celebrates its 10th birthday this year.

Friday

The last Friday of the month means Critical Mass: assemble on Theaterplein with your bike at 6pm as usual for an hour’s cycling through the city.

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Bar Paniek

And perennial summer favourite Bar Paniek on the Kattendijkdok re-opens for summer 2019 at 11am.

Saturday

On Sint-Jansplein there will be a great big fleamarket from 10 – 6pm. I like this part of town and my favourite bar on this square is Rode 7 -check it out, for reasonably priced, tasty home-cooked food and a friendly atmosphere.

From 1pm community centre coStA Sint Andries celebrate their 25th birthday on Sint Andriesplaats with the Fiesta de San Andres -expect live music, food, and entertainment until 11pm (free).

fiestadesanandres

At Permeke Library there’s a story-telling festival from 10am – 6pm, which takes place every two years and has a programme for various age groups. Here’s a general overview of the programme, and here you can find links to programmes and events for the specific age groups.

RubenshuisF

The Rubenshuis (on Wapper, off Meir; pic right) has renovated the museum garden and is open to the public from 12 -5pm for an Italian Garden Party. It’s free and there will be characters in costume, guided walks, games, workshops and music. The museum will also be free. You can bring your own picnic to enjoy in the newly restored gardens.

dance-310022_640If you are more of a dancer than a reader than check out Dag van de Dans which is today. Here’s a .pdf of all the events (Antwerp events can be found on pages 4-5). Four performances will be held in MUHKA.

Down at Eilandje on the Napoleonkaai, there’s a vegan street festival from 10am- 10pm: speakers, street-food, drinks and music.

swaajplogoAnd Swaajp offer their unique brand of improvised comedy and storytelling at BATS Little Theatre with Swaajp Invites -this time with a whole gang of guests for their two-hour show, starting at 8pm. Tickets here.

Sunday

Today is the Antwerp 10 Miles & Marathon -have a great run if you are taking part. Here a Google map of the route if you are planning on cheering on the runners, and there’s an NewLogooverview of times and info here.

If you need to relax after running, or a busy weekend, you might like to check out two workshops held at the Biologisch Dynamische Bakkerij Lapin on Mechelsesteenweg 72, run by Mindful Thinking at Play. Each workshop costs 10 euros, and is in English. To register, email Kym@mindfulthinkingatplay.com   

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 22.18.12And if you want more dancing -there’s free Salsa dancing at Bar Noord from 3- 10pm.

If you’d like to learn more about repairing and maintenance, head with your broken or faulty items to Plein Publiek at for FIXT!- Bike Maintenance & Repair Café -free from 11am- 4pm.

After last weekend’s tropical temperatures, the weather will be a bit of a disappointment. Friday should be nice but there are strong chances of rain on Saturday and Sunday (less so). Top temps of around 15 degrees. There will be some bright spells too though.

May 1st -Public Holiday

May 1st (Labour Day) is a national holiday in Belgium: there will be a Labour Day Parade, which starts on Leopold de Waalplaats (from 10am in front of KMSKA), and makes its way to Grote Markt for 1pm, where there will be music and kids’ entertainments on Grote Markt until 5pm.

Also on May 1st there will be an extra ‘Holiday Market’ (Feestmarkt) on Theaterplein from 8am -6pm.

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Whilst over at Park Spoor Oost, Goegekregen/ SNITT will be holding their usual brand of retro/ vintage/ secondhand rommelmarkt from 9am -6pm.

I was recently contacted by Sharifa from ITAKA language school. They are holding a fun open day on 1st May (see poster below). As it’s a holiday, it would be a good chance to go and find out about the work that they do offering language learning for people who are over 50 years of of age, including  Chinese, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, English, Spanish, Arabic, and Art History in Dutch. See the website for more information, of have a look at their Facebook page.

affiche tuinfeest ITAKA 25-1 (1)

Miscellaneous

Two recent special Nessacityblog posts are available now: one about The Chef’s Cut, for foodies, and one about the VZW Wwelcome, which has a variety of services for newcomers to the city, to help them settle in and integrate into local life.

tapwaterI recently saw this interesting campaign to encourage Belgian restaurants and cafés to serve tap water. Being forced to pay for bottled water in restaurants and cafés is something I resent: I consider it an unnecessary cost to both the environment and myself. The page offers these template letters in French and Dutch which you can C&P to establishments which refuse to serve tap water, and this Google map enables you to see which places do serve tap water, so that you can make a more economical and environmentally-friendly choice of watering-hole, should you wish to do so. You can also find them on Twitter and Instagram.

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EAT: recommendations for vegetarians and their omnivorous friends.

olivebread

I enjoy eating out and have been vegetarian now for over 30 years. Antwerp has some good places to eat if you are vegetarian. Here’s a pick of some that I enjoy in Antwerp, along with a quick summary of price. I’ve included some where veggies and omnivores can eat together, because most of my friends are not veggies, but we can always find something that suits everyone:

For hardcore Lentil Lovers:
 
Aahaar’s: Indian, informal- wholly vegetarian/ Vegan/ Jain

Ignore the menu and go for the all-you-can-eat buffet for a tenner. It’s excellent.

Lombardia –Cafe, vegetarian, vegan, organic, gluten-free etc
This is nice food but it is a bit on the pricey side. It’s OK for lunches and early evening meals. It’s informal and a little cramped inside, so not ideal with wriggly kids and/ or push chairs, but there is space outside during summer, so it’s easier with kids then.
This is pricier but very nice. Almost totally veggie, it usually offers one or two fish dishes. Good food and good service. You probably need to book
(the one on Kasteelpleinstraat is better for evening meals; the other one has more of a lunch/ cafe vibe).
Not wholly veggie, but with really good veggie choices:
This restaurant is really nice for a group or as a date. It has a page of vegetarian choices all of which are filling and very reasonably priced at 11 -12 euros. A lot of the sides (priced at around 6- 7 euros) are veggie. The atmosphere is relaxed and the service is unpretentious and friendly.
 
I love this place. It is not cheap but it has great, fresh food for veggies to eat alongside their omnivorous dining companions. Nice relaxed atmosphere, delicious Greek tapas, down next to the river. You need to book and you get the table for about 90 mins. If you book the later sitting you can stay longer, for post-prandial drinking, because it is the perfect food and venue for sitting and swilling loads of red with…
Originally just near MAS museum, now with branches in Berchem and on Leopold plein; very nice, but not that cheap. Handy for combining with a trip to the museum (for the one at Eilandje).

Nice location, good service, very tasty Nepalese, Thai and Japanese food (including a good choice of veggie Sushi, also to take away). Good service and staff who clearly take pride in what they produce.

Tarbouch (Lebanese)

Tarbouch
Tarbouch

I have only been here once but I am definitely going back. It offers a delicious buffet with the vast majority of choices being vegetarian. Ingredients are fresh and really nicely presented. Check the website and go with carnivorous or vegetarian friends on the buffet night. It’s a good deal.

Falafel

I really like Falafel (which you can get at Tarbouch too, of course) and find that Falafel places are always ideal when there is a group of veggie and non-veggie diners, looking for quick, cheap, informal food.

There is also a great (fairly) new Lebanese place on Hoogstraat: Shami. Here’s my Happy Cow Review.

Also on Hoogstraat is Falafeltof -a popular venue, very good prices considering it is in the tourist district. I also though the service was good -staff are friendly and cheerful.
FalafelBeni.
Beni Falafel
However, I think most falafel fans will agree that Beni Falafel is pretty much the best choice for falafel in Antwerp. Beni’s has an all-vegetarian menu and is located in the heart of the Jewish quarter on Lange Leemstraat. It is fresh, tasty and cheap. Service is quick and friendly.
oscar
Bar Oscar is a bit of a hidden gem that is well worth finding – just off the Carnot Straat (cross over Astrid Plein) and a very short walk from Central Station. It’s cool, without being pretentious, and the service is friendly and efficient. Most of the food is healthy, tasty, and vegetarian/ vegan with the odd option for omnivores. I like the way children are made welcome, and share the space with the more trendy adult clientèle from the design centre. It’s a great place to stop if you have decided to get away from Meir, and instead head to the shops along Carnot Straat and around that area.
Escobar
Escobar -friendly, tasty, cute venue!

 

…. As is Escobar on Quellinstraat, which has been there for about 5 years now and has built up a steady, busy lunch trade (also does breakfasts) and deservedly so. It’s a very pretty eaterie where everything is fresh and nicely presented. Friendly service, fresh food, great home- baking. Kids are welcome and there is a sunny back garden to sit out during summer time.

Hochan

 

The food on Keyserlei (in front of the station)is largely consumed by tourists. Most of it is OK as pub style food, or for a pizza but on the whole there is nothing there that is worth a really hearty recommendation (although I like stopping at the bars for a drink), with the possible exception of Ho Chan House on the Breydelstraat (just off Keyserlei) which is a Chinese restaurant with an entirely separate vegetarian menu -just ask. It’s often busy and lies in the heart of the tourist area, so if you want to be sure -book.

 

 

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delicious seaweed, egg & tomato soup at Bai Wei

Obviously there is a great deal of choice in China Town itself. The Best has a good selection for vegetarians, but my current favourite is Bai Wei. It has fewer choices for vegetarians, but it’s incredibly tasty and fresh. The noodles are hand-pulled on the premises (you can see the chef doing this on the open-plan first floor) and I am assured by my usual dining partner (who lived in Taipei for six years) that as far as taste is concerned, this is the real deal. It’s very reasonably priced, and friendly, so although other places might have more numerous choices for vegetarians, I am more than happy to head to Bai Wei.

Finally, I guess we couldn’t leave a restaurant post without mentioning pizza. There are lots of them in the tourist area of the old town and near central station, of course. But I like La Grappa on Anselmostraat, for a decent pizza in a lively, friendly pizzeria, when we are out with the kids. The desserts went down pretty well too …

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Tartufo at La Grappa

 

This is just a small (and personal) selection of what is available around Antwerp. Please add recommendations of your own in the comments!

Eet smakelijk!