Guest blog post: Glass blower, Frederik Rombach

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Frederik Rombach

Hi, my name is Frederik and I am the owner of Rombachs Glass. I was born in Belgium, and raised in Benoni, Johannesburg until the age of 14 . From there, my parents and I moved to the Netherlands where I learned to speak Dutch. At aged 17 I decided to continue traveling the world and spent time living and working in San Diego, and later on in Puebla, Mexico. Leaving the warm Southern Hemisphere I spent time living and working in Bergen, Norway. About 6 years ago I moved to Antwerp and decided to settle down here (…for a while at least).

Rombachs glass studio is the first public glass studio in Belgium that works solely with waste glass. We host demonstrations where we make sculptures out of waste glass such as boxing gloves, scorpions and all kinds of other weird stuff! We also host team-building events for large and small companies looking to have some fun together and make a communal object out of glass. If you feel like do something fun after work then you can also check out the workshops that we do in the evenings!

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We are also setting up an exciting new experiment where we help people learn Flemish through glassblowing. If you are interested in this trimester program then please get in touch for more information!

But that’s not all we do: we also make company gifts. If you and your company are looking for a lasting memento, and want something truly unique then we will be able to help!

So, from sculptures to events, and a mix of products in between, that’s pretty much what we do -and we do it all with waste glass!

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, ideas or projects you would like to pass on.

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a workshop at Rombachs Glass

Last but not least, on Sunday 14th of July we will be hosting our monthly Second Sunday, from 2pm – 5pm. We ask a 5€ contribution which is also your raffle ticket! At the end of the demo we will raffle off the pieces we made to a few lucky winners!

Check out our Facebook and Instagram pages and do come to see what we do LIVE!

Rombachs Glas GCV
Frieslandstraat 23,  2660 Hoboken BE
T  0032 4 86 95 96 54
www.rombachs.com

 

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The Big Fat Summer Post 2018

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Here is the Nessascityblog Big Fat Summer post for 2018 -a bumper post to keep you informed and equipped to enjoy summer in Antwerp while I take my own summer holiday.

Regular weekly posts for the weekend will be back on 16th August!

The first information source you need to plan your Antwerp summer is the Stad Antwerpen Zomer Van Antwerpen website!

Summer Bars

Pop-up summer bars are at the heart of the Antwerp Summer experience, and are always an excellent go-to option for simply getting out in the city with friends or family. I can’t list them all but here is a breif guide to some I have been to. For a full list of all the summer bars in Antwerp (and beyond) this site is very useful and has an English version now too.

The Zomer van Antwerpen summer bar on Sloepenweg is the mother of all summer bars and is completely all-purpose, providing affordable food, drink, an outdoor library, ZVA info-booth, circus tent, and loads of space for kids to play. Professional loafers (like myself during the summer holidays) think of it as ZVA HQ.

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Bar Noord (Park Spoor Noord)

In Park Spoor Noord, Bar Noord is similarly all-purpose if you are entertaining kids for the warm summer days (the fountains in which children can play are a big draw when temperatures rise). Bar Noord is open until late with more events and music for when it’s grown-up time.

Another huge bar is Bocadero at Waagnatie. It’s got a great location right by the water and is a pretty hip place to see and be seen. Kids will like the sand but Bocadero is definitely more of a venue for those sans enfants, as is Jardim just a little further along the river. There is more of a cocktail atmosphere at these two bars

Bar Paniek is another bar we have enjoyed: it’s got a more quirky and somewhat arty vibe, and is located on the Kattendijkdok with an industrial waterside feel and a standard drink selection: come for a glass of wine or a Seefbeer, rather than to hang with the cocktail crowd. Bar Paniek has also served as a nice location for food and second hand markets in the past. I get the impression that the Cadix Wijk in this area is an up-and-coming one.

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Antwerp summer bars

Also part of ZVA, the Zomerfabriek -is a spacious urban- style bar in Zurenborg, with a busy programme of regular events (e.g. urban sports, dance workshops) aimed mostly at a younger crowd, but the bar itself is a really nice place for anyone wanting a food and drink.

Right in the centre of the city is Strandhof at Kavka. Kavka is a youth-club but even as a crumbly middle-aged person, I really liked being able to go to a summer bar here, two years ago, in the courtyard of this attractive building on Oudaan. It was missed last summer. It’s a perfect location if you are shopping or running errands in the centre and want to get away from busy shops or sticky streets.

A Dozen Dates For Your Summer Diary:

1) On the 11th July, head to Groenplaats for Vlaanderen Feest (the kids entertainments start at midday, courtesy of Ketnet) and the evening entertainment begins on the Grote Markt at 17.45. Both squares will have stages, music, drink, activities and dancing. This is the Day of the Flemish Community, not to be confused with Belgium’s National Day (see number 5, below)

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Groenplaats

2) On the 15th July, it’s the usual second hand book market on de Coninckplein in front of Permeke Library, starting at 10am.

3) Food and Drinks Festival Fiesta Europa is on Groenplaats for five days from the 18th July

4) On 20th -21st July it’s Borgerwood Musical festival at Trix music venue and Spoor Oost

5) 21st of July is a national holiday in Belgium, it being Belgian National Day What better way to celebrate than by going to Roller Disco Dageraad ? It’s on all day from 1pm on Dageraadplaats: bring your skates if you have them (there will be a limited number for hire if you don’t) and dress as per roller disco style!

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The 21st July is Belgium’s National Day

6) Staying on Dageraadplaats for the 22nd July for Rommelmarkt Dageraad. These second hand markets are pretty good as many of the local residents are quite well-heeled…

7) Art Lovers: on 29th July it’s Lambermontmartre -support local artists, photographers and creatives while enjoying outdoor food, drinks and music. Free, from midday -in front of the museum of modern art (aka KMSKA).

8) On the 3rd August Flying Pig is at Antwerp’s Theaterplein. Outdoor evening drinks, DJs and music from 5pm.

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Sommar

9) Also on the 3rd August and continuing on to the 4th it’s annual music festival Linkerwoofer. Tickets here – this is a kid-friendly event.

10) Stay up late and visit your favourite Antwerp museum on the 4th August because it’s the annual Antwerp Museum Night

11) The next day (5th August) you can sing your heart out at Antwerp Zingt. This is a super-friendly, kid-friendly event based around the simple idea that it is fun for a community to get together in song. As well as local songs, there are usually plenty of well-known tunes that everyone can join in with, and a song sheet to help you along. Free, on the Gedempte Zuiderdokken from 6pm

16) And last, but never least, it is the rainbow jewel in the crown of the Antwerp summer: from 8th-12th August it’s Antwerp Pride. The Parade is on the Saturday, starting at 2pm and taking this route: Route: Vlaamse Kaai (start) – Verschansingsstraat – Leopold De Waelplaats – Karel Rogierstraat – Marnixplaats – Scheldestraat – Scheldekaaien – Sint-Pietersvliet (end). For the full program (including pre- and post Pride events) see here.

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Pride Parade

Five For The Rugrats

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1) For just 2 euros per day per kid there’s Speel -O- Rama at Zuiderpershuis

2) Time your drinking to coincide with kids’ read-aloud: daily stories at the outdoor library in the Zomerbar.

3) Check out these sport programs and activities (you need to register for these and pay a fee when you do so). Choose your activity and click on “inschrijven”. Here is the full list For other types of workshops, it is worth looking at the websites of local museums such as MUHKA who have additional holiday workshops for kids.

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Sportopia

4) For cheap indoor play there is Sportopia at the Park Loods building (Park Spoor Noord)

5) The kids’ workshops and activities which have previously been held at Cafe Het Steen have moved to a new venue further along the river on the Drogendokkenweg, and is now called STORMKOP. Here’s their program.

Ongoing

Baroque Antwerp season continues until January 2019.

The OLT (Open Air Theatre) concert season program is here. To go for free, see events entitled “Gratis Vrijdagen” (Free Fridays).

Over summer, Stad Antwerp offers two outdoor swimming pools (Boekenberg and de Molen)

Follow Nessascityblog on Instagram for pictures of summer 2018 in Antwerp!

I hope you have a lovely Antwerp summer and I am very grateful to everyone who reads the blog, and who takes the time to contact me with events, information or a positive comment.

Don’t forget that if you would like to write a special post for Nessascityblog or do a short interview (in person, or via email) then please get in touch: nessascityblog@gmail.com or via the other social media in the Find & Follow section. I’d love to hear and share your Antwerp story!
Nessascityblog weekly posts will return on 16th August.

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This Weekend: 25th, 26th & 27th August

It’s a busy weekend to finish the month of August, and before Belgian schools go back at the start of September. Here’s your GOOGLE MAP!

 

Friday

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The Mechelseplein

The Mechelsepleinfeesten take place on both theFriday and Saturday this weekend. This is a kid-friendly neighbourhood event, offering music, food, drinks and dance. The full list of events and happenings can be found on the event page on Facebook. On Friday it starts at 4pm.

Critical Mass holds their usually monthly cycle ride, starting from the Theaterplein at 6pm, so assemble then with your bike for this month’s Africa edition of the bike ride.

Also on Friday, Aper’eau is on Bolivarplaats from 5pm, with their usual offering of beers, wines and aperitifs – until midnight.

Saturday

The Mechelsepleinfeesten continue -again, from 4pm.

Jazztemblieft is a free Jazz festival taking place on the Godefrieduskaai, at the MAS museum, starting at 2 and continuing until midnight. It’s free and kid-friendly.

Sunday

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Cultuurmarkt flags on Meir

You may have noticed some red, white and blue flags hanging on Meir -these are for Cultuurmarkt which takes place in Antwerp today, in various locations around the city centre. There is a very varied and wide program for this day, including many exhibitions at city museums (most of which are open from 10 -5pm) as are other venues, including bars, theatres and businesses. Groenplaats, Meir, Grote Markt, Steenplein, Suikerrui and Wapper will all be busy with cultural activities, free performances and information. Check the Google map which indicates which arts area you can find out about at each of these locations. It is a chance to find out about the upcoming agendas of a huge number of musea, clubs, societies, theatres, music venues and organisations offering creative activities and performances in the coming months. There’s usually a lot to keep kids amused, including a trail to follow called Vliegroute -go to the hyperlink to download the card, which kids can get stamped as they go along, and eventually win a prize when they have collected stamps from completing fun activities.

Also for kids – Bar Noord is offering this free cooking workshop at 3pm for budding chefs aged 6-12. Mail lotte@dagvers.org to register your child.

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Lambermontmartre

Lambermontmartre will be holding their monthly art fair from midday, at Leopold de Waelplaats (near the Fine Art Museum) from midday, also with live music and food.

Yoyogi (part of ZvA) is back for Sundays in August -not just yoga, but music, games, workshops and other activities are on offer for free between 2- 7pm on the green at Rivierenhof.

The weather should be warm, and sometimes sunny with top temperatures of 24 – 25 degrees.

Miscellaneous

Wednesday 30th: don’t forget that on the last Wednesday of the month there is free museum entry.

Runners! You can register now for Race For The Cure which is a 6km run taking place on 24th September, in aid of Breast Cancer research and awareness.

Sportopia (Park Spoor Noord, in the Loods building) finishes this weekend (on the 27th)

Don’t forget to find me on social media, where additional events and locations are also posted:

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This weekend: 24th, 25th & 26th February

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LBWG

This weekend sees the close of winter bar Little Brewers Winter Garden. It will doubtless re-open in a summer incarnation later this year. Here’s the full program of weekend events to mark the end of its winter season.

JEFF (Youth Film Festival) is also on the whole weekend (and thoughout the holiday week). Films will be showing in Ecohuis and Zuiderpershuis. There are also workshops. See the full program here.

If you are not familiar with the Eilandje area of Antwerp (the port area where MAS museum is situated) then this is a good weekend to discover it, with events on both days for Welkom op Het Eiland.

Over the whole weekend there is an exhibition of minerals, fossils and precious stones at Kinepolis, for 4 euros.

Here’s your GOOGLE MAP for all the places mentioned in this weekend’s post.

Friday

It’s the last Friday of the month, and -according to Critical Mass -never to late to enjoy some Valentine’s Romance. Assemble on Theaterplein with your bike at 6pm for the Valentine’s edition of the monthly bike ride.

Saturday

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London Calling

Skool’s out! Why not kick off the krokus vakantie with London Calling’s Let’s Bowie! at Bar Venetie, Saturday night on the Turnhoutsebaan from 10pm.

Gardeners of Antwerp -the Ecohuis is offering a day of free gardening workshops from 1pm until 6pm. To take part costs nothing but you need to register by mailing or calling: ecohuis@stad.antwerpen.be or tel. 03 217 08 11

Or head to Sint Jansplein for another big second hand market from 9am -6pm

It’s the monthly free film at Het Roze Huis at 8pm: Tru Love.

Sunday

More gardening tips! This time it’s pruning the roses at Rivierenhof, with the gardners that keep the rose garden there. Register by calling 03 3605218 . Free.

Alas, the weather is not looking great -about 10-12 degrees, but feeling colder, with chances of rain and drizzle on both Saturday and on Sunday.

Miscellaneous

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Maddi Goodwin & A Sunburnt Country

I was pleased to be contacted by musician Maddi Goodwin, creator of A Sun Burnt Country project. I am very much looking forward to attending this eclectic event at de Singel on Friday 19th May. It’s a must for internationally-minded people, and doubly so if they are from- or have an interest in – Australia and Australian culture. The evening will comprise of music, readings and dance, and I am including it here because there is a 20% discount on tickets if you order them before the 1st March, which is not far away!

If you have children (aged 8-14) interested in the Children’s University event on 19th March, you can register them from now. You might also want to know that March is Youth Book Month.

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Also for kids -the spring break (Krokus vakantie) is coming up in Belgium (starting 27th February). If you have kids who are off that week and would enjoy some sports activities check out this Stad Antwerpen Page. The activities on offer can be seen here and you need to go here to register. Stad Antwerpen museums also offer some ateliers during the Krokus vakantie, some of these involve signing up for more than one day.

Idee Kids also offers a variety of activities and workshops during the holiday week.

Also during the break, some swimming pools in the Antwerp area have extended opening hours.

If you took part in Lei Reijnder’s (Cloudknitters) Let Sky The Limit postcard mail-art project last year, you can now see all the entries on this film

We are fast approaching the very end of the Stadhuis 450 expo, which closes in March. If you have been meaning to go but haven’t, then time is running out ….

It’s Carnaval!

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Het Beleg van Antwerpen

 

And just for fun, thank Het Beleg van Antwerpen for offering on our behalf, this very special greeting from the city of Antwerp, to President Trump.

 

 

 

 

Finally – would you like to write a guest post for Nessascityblog? As you are probably aware, I post on Thursdays, weekly. I’d like to include a guest post for after the weekend is over, but before the new post is out (so Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday). I’d like posts in English which tell personal Antwerp stories -yours. Where are you from? What are you doing in Antwerp? Why? And what are your experiences of living and/ or working in Antwerp? What are the pleasures and challenges of adapting to life here? You don’t need to be Shakespeare and you don’t need to have English as your first language. I will proof-read and edit posts if necessary. Please get in touch via the About page if you would like to contribute. If you have a different idea for an Antwerp-related post I’d also love to hear it.

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— NEXT POST: THURSDAY 2nd MARCH —

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This weekend: 10th, 11th & 12th February

–Next post: Thur 16TH FEBRUARY  —–

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Greetings! I’m back in Antwerp after a great week in The Hague at THIMUN. Here goes for this, the Valentine edition, starting with the Google map for all the locations mentioned in this post.

Cake-lovers -it’s “Pateekesweek” until the end of the weekend: this means that for 10 euros you can pick up a set of tokens to be exchanged for pastries and cakes in participating bakers, food sellers and cafés. The offer assures that you get twice your money’s worth by taking part this way, and you can get the tokens at the tourist offices on either Grote Markt or central station, along with details of participating outlets.

Saturday

There’s what looks like a posh jumble sale at Plein Publiek at 2pm in the form of a Blogger Closet Sale.

Or the opening of this photography exhibit It’s Not About Cars at Gallery 51 at 2pm. If you prefer painting, there’s this one, starting at the same time.

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A music loving child might find this event will be perfect for them. It’s for kids aged 6-12 and offers a choice of 30 minute workshops focused on different instruments. Note that parking is described as ‘difficult’, so come by bike or public transport (trams 2/3/5/6. Stops -Handel or Elisabeth). Register your kid(s) from 1pm on the day.

If you are shopping with your beloved, there is the offer of a free photo at Grand Bazar shopping centre between 10 and 6pm.

Sunday

Runners – there’s the choice of a 5km or 10 km run at Rivierenhof which is free, although you need to register by email. It has a Valentines theme and starts at 11. Make sure you register before the 10th.

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Het Steen

I’ve not mentioned these for a while, but if you are getting short on ideas about what to do with the smalls during this lousy weather, there are workshops at Het Steen for kids aged 6+. It’s a nice venue, where accompanying adults can get a decent beer, and where supervisors are used to working with kids of various nationalities and will take an inclusive approach if your child is not a native Dutch speaker.

Also with a Valentines theme is this free 2 hour creative workshop at Permeke library for kids aged 6-12 from 11am.

The weather looks pretty chilly, but bright at times. Should be dry.

Miscellaneous

This week I took the kids to the indoor playground at Mercado on Groenplaats. It was 5 euros in (for accompanying adults also) which included a drink jeton. Kinds under 3 are free. Plus points were that the kids loved it -it’s a very big, airy space with a wide range of activities (climbing, triking, ball pit, arts and crafts). My kids did not want to leave

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Indoor play above Mercado on Groenplaats

For the accompanying adults, it’s not bad although I thought it could have been better heated (this is not an issue at for the kids who are constantly on the move) and I  was disappointed that there is no wifi available. Also despite getting a jeton along with each entrance, there aren’t any drinks on the menu that only cost a single jeton. The bar is nice, service was fine and there are plenty of seats and tables. Even on Wednesday afternoon (when Belgian schools are out) it was not too crowded by any means.

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Don’t forget that actual Valentine’s Day is next Tuesday. That’s not specific to Antwerp, but just a general reminder in case you have a partner who goes batshit if you forget.

 

For an old school date at the pictures, try  Cinema Cartoons in the old town, and then maybe spend some time in the bars around Vrijdagmarkt. I like Bar 2  for reliably tasty, well-made and reasonably priced dishes, or just for a drink.

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additional images this week from Pixabay

 —– BACK ON THE 16TH FEBRUARY  —–

 

 

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This weekend: 18th, 19th & 20th November

*** NEXT POST ON 24TH NOVEMBER.***


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***Here’s the GOOGLE MAP featuring all the locations for this weekend***

Thursday

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 .

Saturday

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Street art 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.

 

 

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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.

 

Sunday

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Boekenplein, De Coninckplein

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.

Miscellaneous

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image courtesy of BATS Antwerp

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.

 

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The bar at Filmhuis Klappei

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 …

Find Nessascityblog on TwitterPinterest and Instagram -with pictures of Brickmania and Goegekregen from last weekend.

Nessascityblog Brexit posts are here (part 1) and here (part 2).

*Part 3 was pressed this weekend.

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Nessascityblog also featured in Den Triangel recently. If you would like a .pdf of that interview, send me a message at nessascityblog@gmail.com

*** NEXT POST ON THURSDAY 24TH NOVEMBER -SEE YOU THEN. THANKS FOR READING! ***

 

 

 

 

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“Krokus Vakantie” (Feb half-term week) for kids.

All Belgian schools have a week’s holiday at the same time (8th- 12th February) and some of the English speaking schools (for example Antwerp International School) are also off that week.

During holiday times there are a number of kids’ activities available. These range from one-day activities or workshops to camps which are on daily for the entire week.

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This is not an exhaustive list (and feel free to send additional links; I’ll edit to add them) but will provide some suggestions for keeping children occupied, happy and social during their time off. Please note: these activities tend to be popular, and you should enrol your child(ren) as soon as possible to be sure of a place/places. Some are more expensive than others. If your child is not a Dutch speaker, be sure to check that the activity is suitable. Also be aware that some places provide a lunch, and for other activities you need to make sure your child has lunch with them.

Here is a list of Sport Camps and activites in an around Antwerp. The price given is for the full week. For more information (and even details of the Easter holiday agenda) there are contact details on this page.

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Publicity image from JEFF Facebook page

The Youth Film festival (JEFF) is running workshops and film showings at two locations: the Zuiderpershuis and the Ecohuis). Each activity consists of the screening of a children’s film (Dutch) and a creative activity. Here is the schedule for Antwerp order tickets and enrol here to receive your ticket as a .pdf via email.

Also,  ISF Active English run activity weeks in English, every holiday, except for Christmas. The February courses are filling up fast. Contact them via Facebook for more information.

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Idee Kids is running a workshop for kids (7+) who like to cook at the Koninklijk Lyceum daily from 9am -4pm.

This one (same times, same location) is for younger kids (5+) and has a viking adventure theme.

This one completes the offering at KLA for the youngest group (3+).

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Museum Mayer van den Bergh

 

Museums in and around Antwerp also offer art-based and creative activities at this time. These tend to be one-day workshops, or interactive guided tours, rather than a course for the whole week. You can search by location and age-group  here.

For musical kids who play an instrument the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp is offering two days of workshops on the 9th and 10th February. Details here. Register here.

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Finally, don’t forget this post which has general information about places to go in Antwerp with your small people.

 

Kids -Autumn break 2015

Keeping little angels occupied (photo from the Mayer van den Bergh museum)
Keeping little angels occupied
(photo from the Mayer van den Bergh museum)

Next week is the autumn break for schools across Belgium.

As well as checking out the Antwerp with Kids post, there are some specific workshops organised for children at some of Antwerp’s museums and venues..

Museums can be found here.

Workshops at Het Steen can be found here.

On Wednesday 4th, there will be an sale/ exhibition of second hand kids’ book at Het Paleis

Theatre workshops for November at Het Paleis can be found here.

Music activities here.

Sport -download the pdf here.

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.

autumnberries

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.