While Belgium’s vaccination campaign continues to pick up steam and the reopening of the hospitality sector has prompted the return of some semblance of normality to daily life, health officials are still discouraging international travel, and urging people to postpone any ambitious, border-hopping travel plans until the coronavirus pandemic is truly over.
Brussels is taking things one step further with the introduction of “Staycation BXL,” an initiative aimed at keeping people in the city this summer by tapping into a community of artists, athletes and local organisers.
Over one hundred projects have been designed and funded, involving everything from sports and play to arts and online initiatives, all aimed at giving people the chance to vacation in the Belgian capital.
“Many inhabitants of Brussels commit themselves daily to making their city a better place, and the initiatives within StaycationBXL can really make a difference,” said Pascal Smet, the Flemish Community Commission’s commissioner for Culture, Youth and Sports.
“During the Staycation, we invest in numerous activities so that the people of Brussels can (re)discover their city. Moreover, we put artists and other initiators back to work for fair wages.”
One of the projects lets children travel with a horse and donkey through the city. Another teaches people the ins and outs of bike repair. There are performing arts initiatives, film screenings, and people are permitted to go kayaking on the canal again.
The projects are intended to be both inclusive and participatory, and fit into one of the following themes: Fun Sporty (sports and exercise opportunities), Fun Artistic (artistic interventions by artists), Fun Digitally (creative online initiatives that entertain the people of Brussels), Fun at Play (encouraging children and young people to play and have fun).
“For many Brussels residents, travelling is not an option, even in normal times,” said Elke Van den Brandt, Minister of Mobility and Public Works.
“Many of those people do not have a garden or a terrace. The public space is therefore often an extension of their living space. You see it everywhere, in the parks and squares: there are a lot of people in public places and creating extra space is an urgent necessity.”
Many of the projects are designed to let Brussels residents learn more about the city’s available public spaces through exploration. Others centre around active mobility modes, like initiatives on teaching children to ride a bike.
There were a total of 120 projects selected, taking place in all of the municipalities of the Brussels Region. Many aren’t limited to one neighbourhood, but rather involve several.
The Brussels Times will be featuring some of these projects in a series of articles as part of the Brussels Staycation Spotlight.