The weather improves, schools split up for the summer, the parks start blooming with happy people relaxing together. But it’s not until Couleur Café’s posters show up on Brussels streets that we know summer is truly in full swing. For many living in Brussels, Couleur Café has become the symbol of summer, the signal that it’s time to book that time off from work, make that last minute holiday deal and head to the butcher for some prime time bbq meat to cook up in the garden.
The first edition of Couleur Café dates back to 1990, held in the Schaerbeek halls and attracted a mere 5300 visitors. Since 1994, due to its popularity the festival relocated to the renovated Tour & Taxi buildings right by the Brussels canal. Over the years top artists such as James Brown, Snoop Dogg, Alpha Blondy, Sean Paul and many more have come to take part in the festival. Couleur Café has grown to become one of the top European festivals with the organisers expecting around 75 000 visitors to come to this year’s edition over a long weekend in July 3-5.
This year, as always, the lineup to the music festival does not disappoint. Headliners include Dub Inc, the French kings of Reggae, Wyclef Jean, the American Soul artist formerly member of legendary band The Fugees and Busta Rhymes, the fastest rapper alive today.
Along the big acts there are also countless other less well known bands travelling from The Caribbean, South America and even as far as Africa which make for intimate gigs across the many smaller stages at the festival.
With its world-music feel as well as mainstream hip-hop, soul and reggae music acts as well as its location bang central in the middle of the city, it’s fair to say that Couleur Café is Belgium’s most urban-oriented festival. The cultural mix and positive energy present at this music festival make it truly unique. For many Brussels locals it is the most highly anticipated festival of the year.
But music isn’t all that Couleur Café has to offer. Other highlights include enormous covered food markets representing all the corners of the globe where you can choose from a wide range of excellent value food stalls to satisfy every culinary preference. The crowds can expect huge artistic animations which parade around the festival grounds, scintillating in the evening breeze as they make their way through the crowds, to the beat of the drums.
One last thing synonymous with Couleur Café is its Mojitos, renown for being the best in Brussels!
By Alex Hazel Neale