Spice up your Autumn in Brussels as the Belgian boys invite you to a non-stop party
As the home of the legendary La Demence, Brussels is a city that has long been on our radar as one of Europe’s premier party destinations. But you might want to get your diaries out, as the boys in Belgium are about to step it up to a whole new level.
A former cinema that was converted into a nightclub in 1981, the Mirano has a has a special place in the heart of the nightlife of Brussels. For nearly 40 years, the Mirano has played a central role in kick-starting the music,
fashion and club trends that have emerged from Belgium.
Closed for renovations for over 18 months, the Mirano will be reopening its doors in all of its art déco glory on 20 September.
On 7 September, Catclub comes to Brussels city centre, in the former Shell building – amodernist building with art déco influences.
Line-up: Manfredas, Roi Perez, Disconsole
An exceptional line-up and venue for this new edition of la Love on 13 September. The party will take place in the awe-inspiring surroundings of the Beyond Bruegel exhibition, within the Palais de la Dynastie. An extraordinary setting which will transport clubbers to another dimension thanks to a clever play of light across the exhibition’s screens.
Line-up: INNELLEA / LIVE (DE), TERR (DE), ATTARI (BE), M.O.S (BE), BLOSSOM CULTURE (BE),
Detroit love is a party concept from Carl Craig, designed to bring together and support the unique sounds
of the mythical town of Detroit. This event, which will be held on 13 September, celebrates the richness of Detroit’s musical culture and has been held all over the world, from Amsterdam, to Ibiza, to Chicago, to London. Now it’s finally coming to Brussels.
Line-up: Carl Craig (US), Kyle Hall (US), Jay Daniel (US)
After the fanfare of Fuse’s 25th anniversary this year, the time has come for this clubbing institution to start a new chapter.
Fuse has taken advantage of the summer to transform itself, and is reopening the doors with back-to-back parties on 20th and 21st of September.
20 September: Richie Hawtin (CA), Fabio Florido (DE), A. Brehme (BE), Karla Böhm (BE)
21 September: Âme (live) (DE), Alinka (DE), etc.
Hangar, Brussels’ indoor techno event launched in September 2018, is celebrating its first anniversary on 28 September.
This event sees a collaboration with Italian DJs Cymatiks. This is a concept that mixes music and visual experiences to engage the senses, fire up the imagination and create links between art, the viewer and music.
Line-up: Agents Of Time (IT), Floating Points (UK), Apparat (DE), Michael Mayer (DE), Red Axes (ISR),
Fideles (IT), Anna Nova (DE), Amato b2b Adriani (IT), Danny Daze, Etapp Kyle, Tijana T, etc.
BOZAR and Arty Farty join forces for the third edition of Nuits Sonores & European Lab Brussels, taking place 3-6 October.
On the programme: an urban festival that’s both challenging and innovative, with big names from the local and
international electronic scene, debates and loads more!
Line-up: Paula Temple Hybrid live, Laurent Garnier, Dasha Rush: Territoires Éphémères, AZF, Or:la, Octave One Live, Lotic: Endless Power, Andy Stott Live, Bjärki Live, Leon Vynehall, رثيلڭ Glitter ٥٥, Jazar Crew, Onipa Live, Zuli live, Mono Junk, RRUCCULLA, A z e r t y klavierwerke, December, Chris Ferreira, Prince Off, & more!
Benediction breaks the codes of classical cabaret. It’s a place that’s open to creativity and everyone is welcome. It’s aims: to break the distance between the scene and the public to create exceptional rituals together. Launched in 2017 by Juriji Der Klee and housed since October 2018 in C12, which now produces all its events, Benediction celebrates its second anniversary on Friday 11 October.
To celebrate, Benediction and C12 welcome The Black Madonna and Mike Servito, icons of the gay American house scene.
Line-up: The Black Madonna, Mike Servito
The two biggest players in the Belgian techno scene join forces and present a new concept at Palais 12: Rave Rebels. Following on from the 25-year success of Fuse in Brussels and its exceptional line-up, the story continues with Ghent’s Kompass Klub on 12 October 2019, with a mega rave of 12 hours. This was how Rave Rebels was born: the product of this union between Fuse and Kompass creates a space where people can meet to celebrate electronic music. The term “rave” means more than simple, illicit gatherings under a bridge. It refers to the determination to bring the rave experience up to a higher level with a powerful production and incredible artists.
Line-up: Solomun (DE), Maceo Plex (US), Pan-Pot (DE), Joris Voorn (NL) et le duo Adana Twins (US)
FFORMATT is a new venue that focuses on music and culture. FFORMATT is a platform, a laboratory measuring 1000m2 in Brussels. It’s located in an underground car park in the old Actiris building on Boulevard Anspach in Brussels, opposite the stock exchange. The project began in April 2019 and will last two years. On 12 October, FFORMATT is organising its first STORY NIGHTS party, presenting a holistic approach to musical selection, connecting it with the story of an artist. An immersion into the world of Pender Street Steppers, from start to finish.
Line-up: Pender Street Steppers.
La Démence is without doubt one of the best gay parties in Europe. Parties take place 12 times a year – mainly on Friday nights or the nights before public holidays – and attract gays from all over Europe and beyond. Here all languages are spoken and there’s no dress code – bears, muscle-queens, fetish, leather, latex, fashion icons, young and old.
The celebrations for their 30th anniversary – held at both Fuse and Palais 12 – kick off on 31 October and pretty much won’t stop until 3 November.
Line-up: Pagano (UK), Steven Redant (ES), Chris Bekker (DE), Sebastien Triumph (FR), Paul Heron (UK), John Dixon (FR), Ben Manson (FR), Jon Doe (DE), Mister Mola (BE), Dikky Vendetta (NL), Elias (ES), Andrei Stan (RO),Kenne Perry (BE), Bernard Gavilan (BE), Jo (BE), Breizbear (BE)
You get the sense that Brussels is a place where worlds come together – sometimes they collide, but mostly there’s an easy co-existence of cultures and communities.
This isn’t a new thing. Established as a fortress town in the 10th century, Brussels and its surrounding regions has been caught up in various power struggles through the ages between Austria, France, and The Netherlands - becoming the capital of the newly-independent Belgium in 1830.
Today, with a population of just over one million people, the city is officially bilingual – historically Dutch speaking, these days French is equally prevalent. English is also widely-spoken.
With the gravitational pull of the European Union, there’s a fluidity about the population of Brussels. People come, people go – there’s always new faces, a fresh perspective. There seems to be a very international perspective on life, it’s easy to meet people, to start a conversation, to share experiences.
The rainbow village
The LGBTQ community of Brussels is vibrant and visible. Most of the action is centred around Rue du Marché au Charbon in the Downtown precinct – the bars and businesses of this precinct proudly adopting the collective identity of the Rainbow Village.
There’s a laid-back and friendly vibe to this neighbourhood. The bars are small, everyone drinks outside. It’s good fun.
The bathhouse or sauna is called Macho – it’s busy, especially on weekends.
In terms of local media, newly launched magazine Ket is a comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about Brussels. Ket – which is a term that refers to a guy from Brussels – is published quarterly.
Pride celebrations in Brussels generally take place in mid-May.
In 2020, the main weekend has been announced as being that of 23 May.
Pride in Brussels is an event that’s embraced by the city. If the weather is good, the streets of the Rainbow Village become rammed with people and the pumping music turns it into an all-day outdoor party.
As you would expect, you will find a lot of chocolate, pomme frites, beer, moules frites, and waffles in Brussels. These are all delicious and worth enjoying, but there’s a lot more to the food scene in this city.
Eating out is part of daily life in Brussels, whether that’s stopping for a substantial lunch during the day, or getting together with friends for dinner in one of the cities numerous top-quality restaurants – there’s a huge range of choice and cuisines on offer.
Some of my recent favourites include:
- Gramm on Rue de Flandre
- Poseidon on Chaussée de Louvain
- Selecto on Rue de Flandre
- Brasserie Georges on Avenue WInston Churchill
- On Wednesday evenings the main square in the Châtelain district is taken over by a food market. The area becomes packed with a young, after-work crowd, all out on the street, drinking. There’s a great range of bars and restaurants. This is the kind of neighbourhood where you’d want to live.
- If you’re looking for vintage treasures, the flea market on Place du Jeu de Balle is a popular destination. There’s been a market on this square since 1873. Surrounding the market are a number of vintage stores that are also worth exploring.
- The old indoor market of Les Halles Saint-Géry has been transformed into a going-out destination. Once a month, they hold a market for vintage clothes.
If you’re looking for a few Instagram-worthy moments, Brussels won’t let you down.
- The Grand Place – with its imposing Gothic town hall , this is the postcard-worthy tourist hub of the city.
- The Mannekin Pis – the famous fountain of a small bronze boy happily urinating into the water below. A surprising but popular choice as a symbol of the city.
- Place Royale and the Coudenberg Palace – The palace of the dukes of Brabant is an impressive reminder of the history of this part of the world, and how to build with an eye for grandeur.
- Place du Grand Sablon – this is chocolate central , you’ll find shops by Pierre Marcolini, Leonidas, Godiva, Neuhaus, Maison Dandoy, Frederic Blondeel, and Wittamer. While you’re here, the Eglise Notre-Dame au Sablon has an enormous carved wooden pulpit that’s worth a look.
- Parc de Bruxelles Warandepark is the ideal spot to watch the energetic joggers pounding out the miles.
- The Atomium – this futuristic construction was built in 1958 . It was designed as the Belgian pavilion when the World Expo came to Brussels that year. Today the Atomium is the most visited attraction in Brussels and, thanks to a recent renovation, it still feels as otherworldly and cutting edge as ever .
- Villa Empain – an art deco masterpiece.
- Alice Gallery – specialist in contemporary art
- Centrale – contemporary art museum at Place Sainte-Catherine
- MIMA – contemporary art museum in Molenbeek
Where to stay
- NH Stéphanie – the NH group has a number of properties across Brussels, and they’re always a reliable option. The NH Stéphanie has a good Uptown location – it’s comfortable and modern.
- Penta Hotel – with an ideal Uptown location, this is an easy base from which to explore the city.
- Sandton Pillows – close to the Grand Place, this Downtown hotel puts you close to the action.
- 9 Hotel Sablon – a great location and a simple and stylish hotel.
- Thon Residence Parnasse – ideal if you’re in town on business, these are simple but modern apartments in a good Uptown location.