What’s on: Holiday activities start with a bang this weekend


Christmas markets and light shows across Flanders and Brussels start this weekend, as do the region’s Oscar-qualifying short film festival and hippest beer fest

Jungle Book Light Festival

One of Flanders’ most popular holiday entertainments, this event sees larger-than-life light installations at Antwerp Zoo. From the makers of the previous China Light Zoo comes a brand new theme this year: The Jungle Book.

The story of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and the rest of the familiar characters is told through colourful, monolithic installations, all fantastically lit from within. Added bonus: In this version, Mowgli is a girl. Artists from China have created the entire thing. While inspiration was taken from that country’s light festivals, there’s nothing like this in China, making it unique in the world. Fire pits, food stands and of course the zoo’s usual residents complete the atmospheric picture. 29 November to 12 January, Antwerp Zoo, Koningin Astridplein 20

Billie’s Craft Beer Fest

Belgium is not exactly short on beer, but it’s all too easy to forget that, well, other countries produce beer, too. This beer festival scours the globe for the very best craft brews – those brewed outside of the big corporations by small businesses that tend to put taste before profit. Discover, for instance, Denmark’s Alefarm Brewing, America’s Burning Beard and Spain’s Garage Beer Co. And many, many more – even a few from Belgium. 29-30 November, Waagnatie, Rijnkaai 150, Antwerp

Leuven Short Film Festival

It’s the 25th anniversary of the Leuven Short Film Festival, which features a wealth of local, international and award-winning films under 30 minutes. Leuven is also an Oscar qualifying festival, meaning that its grand prize winner automatically makes the Academy Awards longlist. Every screening is made up of several shorts along one of many themes, like Animation Nation, Flemish Competition or Focus Country (which is Greece this year). Taking place in the Stuk cultural centre, with its cosy café and central open-air terrace, and featuring many shorts by local filmmakers, the atmosphere is buzzy and jovial. 30 November to 7 December, Stuk, Naamsestraat 96

Photos, from top: (c)Jonas Verhulst/Antwerp Zoo; Courtesy Billie's; Autumn Waltz by Ognjen Petkovic