What’s on: Brussels’ spectacular carpet of flowers is back

Summary

The biennial Flower Carpet is back on Grote Markt in the capital next week, while a literary festival pops up in the strangest place in Limburg and open-air cinema everywhere else

Brussels Flower Carpet

What is the subject of the most-published photo of Brussels across the globe? The Atomium, you might say, or Grote Markt. If you guessed the latter, you’d be half right, but it’s actually a biennial event in said square that is the correct answer: Brussels Flower Carpet.

For just four days every two years, the Grote Markt is transformed into a carpet of flowers – mostly begonias – put together to create a spectacular design. This year, Mexico is the country of honour, and the design pays homage to the town of Uriangato, with a history of street carpets made up of colourful sawdust. Uriangato’s patron saint is the Archangel Michael, who also happens to be Brussels’ patron saint. The carpet is free to access, but those who want the full experience will pay €5 to see it from the City Hall balcony. 16-19 August, Grote Markt

Zin in zomer

Discovering Flanders’ rich contemporary literature is one of the best motivators for learning Dutch. But even for those not quite up to the reading-novels level, this festival has something to offer: The opening event features British author Monica Ali of Brick Lane fame, who will talk about her new book, not even on the shelves yet. For the rest, Zin in zomer is a great summer outing, getting you into Limburg, with readings in unique locations in both the capital Hasselt and the smaller Sint-Truiden. Also on the programme is Stefan Hertmans, winner of multiple awards for his War and Turpentine, who will talk about creating characters with journalist Phara de Aguirre while illustrator Ingrid Godon backs them up with live drawing. 14-31 August, across Hasselt and Sint-Truiden

Open-air cinema

People did not speak kindly of the recent heat waves, but you have to admit that the evenings were pretty glorious. So even if they come back, don’t hesitate to head outdoors when the sun goes down for a movie in the open air. You’ll find them all over Flanders and Brussels. Contemporary art museum Smak in Ghent, for instance, offers documentaries in its Mast summer bar, while Middelheim Museum in Antwerp offers a lively and diverse programme that includes Waiting for Giraffes, a sometimes hilarious documentary about a Palestinian veterinarian trying to get a zoo off the ground. Zomer Films in Leuven, meanwhile, takes place in seven locations, while Film in het bos lives up to its name by getting you into nature. Until mid-September, Across Flanders and Brussels

Photo: The Brussels Flower Carpet in 2016
©Brussels Flower Carpet