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WHAT TO DO WITH KIDS IN THE CITY
My secret Sundays: Bozar Family Days
It's Sunday morning. The weather is miserable. So what on earth is a parent supposed to do? The people down at Bozar have come up with the answer. They open up the arts centre to parents and kids for a whole long day of fun activiites based on art and music. Your kids could spend a day looking at paintings by the contemporary Belgian artist Michael Borremans, join in a musicial workshop or put on a mask to join in a fête galante in the style of a Watteau painting.
The Family Days are run with help from the brilliantly creative team at Turtlewings kids' workshops. It all adds up to the biggest party your child has ever seen.
More info on Michael Borremans Family Day
More info on Watteau Family Day
Photo: Rose Blyth
My secret kids art lab: Turtlewings
The designer Julie Anne Verbeelen used to run kids's art courses in a little studio in Ixelles. She has now moved to a huge industrial space on two floors on a beautiful leafy avenue in Schaerbeek.
Here is one of the most creative places in Brussels. Kids can come here on Saturdays to explore their artistic sides by daubing paint on canvas or messing around on computers. Upstairs, Julie Anne has created a large coworking space for creative professionals.
The location is a bit off the beaten track for Brussels expatriates, but it is in an exceptionally beautiful part of Schaerbeek. Schaerbeek train station is just 5 minutes away on foot and parking is not too tricky in the neighborhood if you are prepared to pop a few coins in the meter.
No. 368 in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels
Avenue Huart Hamour 54
My secret ideas
for kids aged
from 1 to 17
1 Year Place du Châtelain
Your child can barely walk. The same goes for you. You haven't slept in months. So wrap up the little one, pop her in the pushchair, and head down to the Wednesday afternoon street market on Place du Châtelain. You can pretend you're shopping for vegetables, but you're really there to sit down with a little glass of white wine and a bowl of olives.
2 Years Parc Tenbosch
It doesn't get any easier once the little ones start walking. So the only thing to do is to head down to the Parc Tenbosch in Ixelles. Here the stressed parent will find a playground, sandpit and pond with turtles. This is a great place to meet other parents who are just as desperate as you.
3 Years Capoue
Time to start looking around for the best ice cream in Brussels. First stop is Capoue, where they make traditional ice cream with an authentic rough texture. As well as vanilla and chocolate, they concoct original
flavours like champagne and mojito.
Avenue des Celtes 36
4 Years Calypso swimming pool
Time to start swimming lessons. So where do you go? Almost every commune has a pool. The most attractive is Boitsfort's Calypso pool.
Avenue Léopold Wiener 60
5 Years C.RAMIC art cafe
Here is friendly workshop filled with parents and noisy kids where everyone sits around big wooden benches decorating ceramic cups and bowls. Perfect for a birthday party or a rainy day.
Rue Lesbroussart 112
6 Years Kessel-Lo
Here is the perfect park to take kids on a Sunday. It has excellent adventure playgrounds, a lake with boats to rent, a test track for cyclists, a skateboard park, running tracks, an open air swimming pool and two cafes.
The park is free but you pay a parking charge. Located outside Leuven.
7 Years Tintin museum
Blistering barnacles! This is confusing. The Tintin Museum, for complicated reasons, is not located in Brussels, which is where Hergé worked all his life, but in the new university town of Louvain-la-Neuve, which didn't exist when Hergé wrote the comic books.
Not to worry. This is a must for every child who has read Tintin. The museum is located in a beautiful modern building in the centre of town. Here you can see Hergé's original artwork and plunge into the world of Captain Haddock, Blanche Castafiori and the Thomson twins.
8 Years Natural history museum
Here is the perfect place to take older kids on a rainy day. The main attraction is a spectacular gallery displaying more than 30 dinosaur skeletons found in a Belgian coal mine.
Rue Vautier 29
9 Years Musée du Jouet
This toy museum is located in a rambling Brussels town house. It is run by a man called André who cannot say no. People present him with old train sets, tin cars, sad dolls and hundreds of teddy bears. André does his best to sort it all out, but it’s an impossible task and boxes lie unopened by the door, while dolls lie on tables waiting to be repaired. It’s chaotic, but charming.
Rue de l’Association 24
10 Years Technopolis
This is the perfect age to take a child to Technopolis, the Flemish science park outside Mechelen. This is a place where children can touch just about everything. It's full of fun experiments that involve music, water and machines. The top attraction is a bicycle that they can ride across a tightrope high above the museum. How scary is that? Your kids can also fly a plane and launch a hot air balloon. The cafeteria is excellent and the staff are really friendly.
11 Years Cool bun
Eating out with kids can be a lot of fun in Brussels if you choose the right places. Almost everywhere welcomes children, but the more informal restaurants are probably best. How about a hamburger accompanied by a cone of frites? No, I'm not talking about a Big Mac. You get better burgers and much better frites if you go to Cool Bun in St Gilles.
Rue Berckmans 34
12 Years Bozarsundays
Bozar occasionally lays on lively Sunday programmes that offer films, music sessions and art activiites. It's busy, noisy and enormous fun for everyone involved, unless you are the parent of the little crying kid whose balloon has floated up to the ceiling.
Rue Ravenstein 15
13 Years Bois de la Cambre cycle trip
You've bought your child a bike, but you don't dare take them out on the streets, not with all the mad drivers around. Do not despair. Much of the Bois de la Cambre is closed to traffic on Sundays. So your child can safely cycle around the lake on a tarmac road. Once they have got the hang of their bike, you can take them along the cycle route that runs around the edge of Brussels, or even follow the trails that run through the Forêt de Soignes.
Bois de la Cambre
14 Years Mr Ego
Here is a fun place to hunt for quirky clothes by brands like Pharmacy Industry and etnies. It’s also a good place to check posters and fliers for upcoming concerts.
Rue des Pierres 29
Tel 02 502 47 87
16 Years Botanique
This is a city with some great venues for live music. The Botanique is one of the best places for music with several spaces to match different genres, including an intimate basement where you can get up close to the band.
Rue Royale 236
17 Years Mappa Mundo
Oh, no. Your kids are old enough to drink beer in Belgium. No panic, parents. A Saturday night on the town is really quiet civilised. You can safely let them head off to Mappa Mundo on Place St Géry with instructions to catch the last metro home.
Rue du Pont de la Carpe 2