Here is a round up of events in this very accessible and culture rich destination
Arts and Heritage:
Antwerp’s “Harry Potter” Library opens for individual tours
Until 26 February 2023 and from 20 April – 9 September 2023
Most of us are familiar with the beautiful architecture surrounding Antwerp’s beautiful streets. Scratch the surface and you’ll be surprised by what goes on behind some of the ornate doors of this city’s centre. One such gem is the Nottebohm Room in the Hendrik Conscienceplien building. Normally, this beautifully ornate library, home to 150,000 beautifully preserved ancient books is only accessible to the public via concerts, lectures, and private tours. However in 2023, at various times in the year, visitors can admire this stunning library which looks like a scene from a Harry Potter studio.
Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Art celebrates its 360th birthday
16 February – 6 July 2023
Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp
In 2023, the Academy will celebrate its 360th birthday. In 1663, the artist David Teniers initiated the founding of the Antwerp Academy, one of the very first art schools in the world. This year, to mark the anniversary, the Academy is taking a 360° perspective and is taking in the world around it by hosting a series of events, lectures, projects, and parties that reflect on their role in the contemporary arts landscape and position in the global art world. For a list of events, click the link below.
Baroque Influencers City Festival
Baroque Influencers: Jesuits, Reubens and The Art of Persuasion in the Seventeenth Century
21 April – 16 July 2023
St. Charles Borromeo Church – Antwerp – Exhibition
From March onwards, the Baroque Influencers city festival will embark on a series of different exhibitions, baroque music concerts, lectures featuring speakers from Belgium and abroad, and a remarkable immersive experience for young and old. Three different exhibitions will allow visitors to embark on a visual journey through time from the 17th century to the present day and of course, its most famous local artist Rubens is featured in these exhibitions. The St Charles Borromeo Church exhibition demonstrates how the leading figures in Antwerp in the long seventeenth-century thought, dreamed, worked, and prayed. The exhibition gathers devotional prints, etchings, and books via special loans.
The Ugly Duchess – Beauty and Satire in the Renaissance
16 March – 11 June 2023
National Gallery, London
The recently renovated masterpiece by Flemish master painter Quinten Massys is the spotlight of this fascinating exhibition which explores themes of beauty, and portrayals of satirical art in the 16th century. Massys was born in Leuven and went on to become one of the founders of the famous Antwerp School of Art. The exhibition is a chance to examine this artist’s better-known pieces, as well as some special loans for the exhibition. The Ugly Duchess portrait which was recently renovated is a permanent feature at the National Gallery.
Re-opening of the DIVA MUSEUM
24 March 2023
Antwerp – Museum Reopening
DIVA showcases diamonds, jewellery, and silver located in Antwerp’s diamond centre. Over the centuries, Antwerp has always held a unique and important position in the diamond trade in the world. This “gem” of a museum was briefly closed for some renovation work, and now re-opens to reveal yet more beautiful gemstones and the city’s connection with diamonds.
Voices of Passion
Park Abbey – Leuven
29 April – 7 May 2023 – Early music concert
Leuven and polyphony have since long been closely connected. The Alamire Foundation from Leuven conducts and encourages research into the Gregorian chant and polyphony of the Low Countries. The Voices of Passion 2023 will have a particularly European flavour with performers from Italy, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Flanders, and Britain. The performances result in a unique interaction between the audience, performers, and researchers, which in turn leads to a deeper understanding of the repertoire and its further exploration at the innovative and high-tech labs of the Library of Voices and the House of Polyphony, located on the beautiful site of Park Abbey.
The Gent-Wevelgem Race
25-26 March 2023
It is the Spring Classic race season again and the Gent Wevelgem race is one of the special routes that takes place early this year. Every year, a tribute is paid during this race to the victims of World War 1 in Flanders Fields. The race actually starts in Ypres, despite the name suggesting it starts in Ghent, and weaves a route from there to the North Sea before turning south towards the famous climbs of the Kemmelberg and finishing in Wevelgem.
Tour of Flanders Race
1-2 April 2023
Bruges – Oudenaarde
This is the most famous of the Spring Classic races. This year’s ultimate challenge is to ride the entire course from Bruges to Oudenaarde (239k) in the amateur race as the professionals will do the day after. However, the routes of 127k and 71k leave plenty of opportunity for cyclists of all levels, to attempt the steep climbs and the cobblestones in the We Ride Flanders sportive.
6 April – 6 May 2023
Kasteel Groot Bijgaarden – Flower show
Located just outside of Brussels, the Kasteel Groot Bijgaarden is one of the most spectacular of Flanders’ flower displays. Over 1 million bulbs are planted in the castle grounds early in the year. By April, the whole estate is swathed in a carpet of rare and beautiful tulips and other exotic plants. Over 500 different varieties of flower are displayed during this time. The picturesque castle grounds include a beautiful lake and its setting in the green suburbs of Brussels is quite stunning.
Royal Greenhouses Of Laeken
14 April – 7 May 2023
Domaine Royal De Laeken – Garden opening
Dates for the opening of the Royal greenhouses have just been released. The annual event is only open for one fortnight a year just when the azaleas are in full bloom and the sight is captivating.
Flanders Fields News
28 April 2023 – 31 August 2024
Flanders Fields – various locations
From April 2023, Flanders Fields begins a grouping of commemorative events entitled “Landscapes” as a special theme year, inviting visitors to reflect on how its landscapes still bear the scars of war over 100 years later.
A series of dedicated exhibitions and special events will demonstrate how this brutal conflict has left an indelible impact on the area. For more information please see our dedicated brochure.
For Evermore Exhibition
29 April 2023 – 18 February 2024
In Flanders Fields Museum – Ypres
In Flanders Fields Museum reveals the stories behind British, French, Belgian, German and American cemeteries. Besides telling the personal histories of those buried here, these stories also impart a great deal of information about the First World War. The stimulating presentation includes a guided audio tour and a mix of unique objects, personal stories and interactive and multimedia installations.
Hooge Crater Front Eye Window
April 2023 – December 2024
Hooge Crater Museum
From the end of April 2023, the Front Eye will be the Hooge Crater Museum’s new, unique viewpoint. At the reconstructed Hooge chapel, a special heritage building, a large rose window acts as a viewpoint. Through the new “eye”, visitors can look out at the historic front’s Hill 60, Hill 62, Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Hooge Crater Cemetery, Kemmelberg, and the Ypres Salient. The Front Eye acts as a clear link between the museum, its surrounding landscape, and the Hooge Crater Cemetery.
The Talbotousians in War and Peace
30 April 2023 – Summer 2024
During the First World War, Talbot House, in Poperinge, welcomed over half a million Talbotousians, as founder Tubby Clayton called these loyal visitors. Together they founded a global organisation called Toc H, to support veterans and their families in rebuilding their lives.
This new temporary exhibition presents anecdotes of their pilgrimages and tells the stories of more than 10,000 Toc H clubs.
Closure of the Menin Gate
The Menin Gate will close in April 2023, to undergo 18 months of major renovation, the first major works since its inauguration in 1927. The works carried out by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission are due to begin in the Spring and will address some erosion and superficial damage.
All of the repairs will hopefully guarantee the monument’s long-term preservation for future generations. Originally designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, this famous and talented architect also designed other memorials in Flanders at Lijssenthoek, Brandenhoek, and the famous St Georges Memorial Church in Ypres.
During the period of renovation, the Last Post will continue to take place every night at 20.00 and will move to the Bridge close to the Menin Gate Lions, but access to the names on the Menin Gate will be restricted.
Gastronomy and Beer:
Zythos Beer Festival
29 -30 April 2023 TBC
This year, the Zythos Beer Festival moves from Leuven to the town of Kortrijk. With about 15,000 people attending, Zythos Beer Festival is one of the largest beer-tasting festivals in Europe. It is exclusively dedicated to Belgian beer. About 100 breweries pour more than 600 beers. It will be a new venue in a new town this year but visitors can look forward to the same familiar format of this ode to Belgium’s brewing tradition.
For more information about Flanders go to https://www.visitflanders.com/en