Belgium in Brief: Umbrellas at the ready, it's Car Free Sunday

Belgium in Brief: Umbrellas at the ready, it's Car Free Sunday
Credit: Orlando Whitehead

Everybody loves a party. And when the spirit of excitement spills onto the street we have a rare opportunity to rediscover our mundane surroundings from an entirely fresh perspective.

Visiting Notting Hill Carnival in London a few weeks ago, I was reminded of the infectious thrill of reimagining a neighbourhood as a space for amusement rather than commerce. Though Brussels doesn't have a carnival, Car Free Sunday (this weekend) comes pretty close.

Navigating a city can often seem a battle, our journey inevitably disrupted by people going the other way, jams and red lights. Rare are the times that we amble unhurried and take note of the sights we normally ignore. For all its practicalities, the modern metro could be seen as a means of mass teleportation: go underground at one point and emerge shortly later in a completely different part of town, unaware of the bustle above.

This Sunday will be a special moment to soak up the city in all its splendour, with flea markets in almost every neighbourhood, music and activities, and food a-plenty. The transformation is remarkable and gives a chance to experience how things could be if our city really put residents first.

See you out there.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your coffee break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. 'Lacking national identity': Polish history textbook mocks Belgium

Starting this school year, students in the ninth grade of public schools in Poland will be enrolled in a new obligatory course titled 'History and the Present,' including a textbook that puts the Catholic Church at the forefront of teaching and contains anti-LGBTQ, anti-feminist and anti-EU messaging. Read more.

2. What to do in Brussels this weekend – 16 to 18 September

Another jam-packed weekend in Brussels is heading your way! From unique visits to the city's most beautiful embassies to an exhibition of Belgium's ugliest buildings, there's no shortage of things to do. Don't forget to leave your car at home on Car Free Sunday! Read more.

3. Average annual energy bill tops €9,000

Anyone who needs to conclude a new energy contract on the commercial market in Belgium in September is in for a shock since prices have gone through the roof. Read more.

4. Kremlin seeks to exonerate Putin following Russian retreats

Moscow has admitted in defeat in Ukraine for the first time since it invaded the country in February 2022. The Kremlin is now doing everything it can to exonerate Russian President Vladimir Putin from any responsibility and shift the blame onto others, according to the US think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW).  Read more.

5. How NATO changed Belgium – and Belgium changed NATO

NATO only set up its headquarters in Evere, outside Brussels, in 1967, after the alliance was effectively booted out of its previous base in Paris. But NATO settled to its new home, a military hospital, and grew into a cornerstone of security in the West. Read more.

6. Ugly Belgian Houses exhibition in Ixelles until Saturday

Photos from the hit social media account Ugly Belgian Houses are being exhibited in A Galerie on Rue de Page in Ixelles until Saturday 17 September. Read more.

7. Hidden Belgium: The largest antique market in the Benelux

The old Roman town of Tongeren hosts a sprawling antique market every Sunday morning. Established in 1976 by seven local dealers, it has grown into the largest antique market in the Benelux. Read more.

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