What’s on: Generations of Arenbergs come to life in Leuven


One of the most influential noble families in Europe is the focus of a festival in Leuven, while Wim Vandekeybus’s new show opens in Brussels and jenever flows like water in Hasselt

Arenberg Festival

The word ‘noble’ might conjure images of opulent homes, glittering balls and lavish hunting parties, but that’s only a small part of the much broader reality. Responsible for Brussels’ Egmont Palace and Leuven’s Heverlee Castle, the influential Arenberg dynasty left its mark on Leuven and far beyond.

Begun in the 11th century, the Arenberg House established itself in Leuven in the 16th century. Now Leuven is bringing five centuries of the aristocratic lineage to life in the three-month-long Arenberg Festival. The Opening Weekend takes place at the former Arenberg estate (now part of the University of Leuven) and looks at how the past connects to the future. So while you can take a noble portrait and ride a horse around the estate, you’ll see that the traditional dancers are in fact drones. The festival continues with exhibitions, guided walks, concerts and more.

Five centuries means, as you might have guessed, that the Arenberg House still exists today. It is currently led by Léopold of Arenberg, born in Tervuren in 1956 and now living in Switzerland. Until 20 January, across Leuven


Whether it’s a new piece or a revival, every seat is always taken for a performance by Brussels dance troupe Ultima Vez. This time it’s a new production by the company’s world-renowned choreographer, Wim Vandekeybus. Traptown looks at his fascination for the universal quality of ancient cultural myths. An original soundtrack was composed by Trixie Whitley and Phoenician Drive, which together with film and architectural elements, offers a sensational multi-media show. 20-31 October, KVS, Arduinkaai 7


Hasselt’s claim to fame – jenever – is celebrated in style every year during the Jeneverfeesten. Whether you fancy the young or old traditional varieties of the spirit, the fruity or nutty flavours or the more quirky assortments (violet, cactus, endive), you’ll find them all to taste in their trademark little glasses. There’s also an antiques market with only jenever-related merchandise, tours of the city’s Jenever Museum, craftspeople at work, live music, and fresh speculoos, the city’s other speciality.

Photo: Family portrait of Karel van Arenberg and Anna van Croy by Frans Pourbus de Jonge
©KU Leuven