What’s on: Book lovers unite at Passa Porta Festival


Brussels’ biennial ode to international literature is our top pick of the week, while movies in Leuven, theatre in Antwerp and the universe in Bruges also beckon

Passa Porta Festival

The Passa Porta Festival is so rich with interesting people and heady discussions, it can be hard to wait the two years it takes for it to come round again. Your day or weekend wristband gets you into any part of the daytime programme, as you hustle around Brussels, making up your own schedule. Evening performances are ticketed separately.

Many talks, reading and debates are in English, such as Goodbye, Hello, a Brexit-inspired lecture concert featuring British authors Ali Smith and Jonathan Coe. Opening night, meanwhile, features British author Reni Eddo-Lodge (pictured), who will discuss her long-time struggle talking about race with white people. This is the tip of the iceberg of Passa Porta, check out the programme and tick your choices now. 28-31 March, across Brussels

Cosmos Festival

Did you know that the moon and the planets in our solar system all make some kind of sound? This is one of the fascinating realities that make up Bruges’ multi-disciplinary Cosmos Festival, a mixture of movement, music, sound and science. There are talks on the planets and stars, an exhibition of historical Nasa images, a sound installation with said planetary noise and an orchestral suite based on the planets’ “personalities”. And that’s not even the half of it. 26 March to 10 April, Concertgebouw, ’t Zand 34, Bruges 


Leuven’s annual documentary film festival is Oscar-qualifying, which means that the winner of the jury prize is automatically considered for an Academy Award nomination. That’s a clue as to the quality of the programme, which rarely missteps. While there are more than 100 films to choose from, neatly organised in categories, we eyed a few standouts: Anthropocene - The Human Epoch shows in eye-poppingly vivid photography just how much humans have messed up the surface of the earth, before diving into some fledgling examples of change taking place; Don’t Be A Dick About It follows the exploits of two bickering brothers – one with autism – during a typical summer; and Free Solo is one of the most nail-biting documentaries to come along in years, as a free soloist – a rock climber who uses no ropes or other equipment – attempts to be the first to scale the face of California’s formidable El Capitan. 27 March to 4 April, across Leuven

Killing Time

During the first run of this thriller by British playwright Richard Stockwell, Antwerp theatre group De Speling asked members of the audience during the intermission to submit guesses as to who was going to be murdered in act two, and by whom. If you were right, you won a free drink. After a week of performances, they had given away one cup of coffee and one glass of wine. That’s because this murder mystery about a chance meeting (or is it?) at a supermarket is anything but predictable. (In Dutch) 29 March to 6 April, Fakkel Theater, Hoogstraat 12, Antwerp