During the Spring and Summer months, everyone is looking for outdoor events… Rooftop, seasonal bars in the middle of a park, open air parties, not to mention the Brussels special treats such as a drink in a market or an “apero” (afterwork drink) with friends or colleagues..
Check this list of most of what Brussels has to offer to the thirsty!
[Last updated 18th July 2016]
I’m sure I’m missing some concepts so please don’t hesitate to comment (and I’ll also update the article).
1. AFTERWORK DRINK aka “APEROS”
A. In a Public Space Near You
The first category is the summer aperos. They’re the most logical choice to start with: first of all, the idea of the “apero”, for French speakers, is linked to holidays, summer time in South of France with a Pastis.
The second reason is that the ONE event that made the all apero thing popular in town is the Apéros Urbains, a seasonal event… So let’s pay them a tribute by starting with them!
Apéros Urbains: the original ones. It all started back in 2006 when a guy had the idea of organizing a drink on Friday in a public place (park, square) and all his friends and relatives followed the idea. It was really chill back then. You arrived at a cosy place, looked around and recognize some familiar faces who would introduce you to their friends…
Then, year after year the success became bigger and bigger. So today Apéros Urbains is this huge gathering with thousand of people and it’s difficult to find your friends in the middle of the crowd. To be totally honest with you, it’s my least favorite one…
Nomadic – Outdoors
Seasonal: end May till September
Apéro Saint-Job (Uccle) and Apéros Saint-Gilles : Apéros Urbains is so successful that it came as no surprise to see that someone decided to organize something similar, although smaller, in the heart of Uccle: place St Job and the other in front of the Town Hall of Saint-Gilles. Smaller ones: you are sure to find here a coziest atmosphere.
This year, the Saint-Job apero will not take place, but Saint-Gilles season has started, so you can head there every Friday after work..
Sedentary: Place Van Meenen (Saint-Gilles) [Not in 2016: Place Saint-Job (Uccle)]
Aperhode is a similar event in the area of Rhode-Saint-Genèse, near de Town Hall. It is already outside the borders of Brussels actually… So if you’re craving for countryside but lack of time, that might be the place for you!
This event is taking place on Wednesdays. You’ll find there some activities for kids, drinks – of course – and also a selection of food trucks.
Sedentary: Rhodes-Saint-Genèse – Gemeentehuislaan – Outdoor
In the map of Brussels, some places are more usual to have a drink: Downtown, Saint-Gilles and Ixelles are the highlights of the cultural and nightlife in the city. Nevertheless, other parts of town are nice to live in, full of people with ideas and willing to share good moments.
Let’s talk about Schaerbeek, for example, beautiful district, stunning houses, wonderful park… In 2012 Apéros du Parc Josaphat where launched. A concert and a nice local atmosphere at a few steps from the beautiful avenue Louis Bertrand. After several years of existence, we can say that it is a success and probably one of the nicest concept of the sort!
Apéros du Parc Josaphat
Sedentary: Schaerbeek, Parc Josaphat – Outdoor (Indoor if raining at Les Ecuries van de Tram)
The same idea stands behind Jette Stream. Jette is a very green district that most people in the South of the City tend to deny as being part of Brussels (well, they know it is, but they’re kind of sarcastic).
As from the first edition people from the area adopted the event! Drinks, concert, DJ set, kids dancing,… and year after year, it’s still going on nicely, apparently!
Sedentary: Jette, Place Cardinal Mercier – Outdoor
We all know those sporty people for whom the “Third” half-time is as important as the first two, and those parents and relatives having a drink while supporting their kids and friends.
B. On a rooftop, a boat or at the beach
Year after year some more original concepts are offered if you’re not only thirsty for some liquid but also for some new discoveries. What is the best than to have an overview of our beloved city from the distance that a rooftop can give you? Or have you ever see Brussels from a boat?
Play Label Rooftop: That’s a trendy spot to discover and if you love Electro make sure to not miss one of their events. The team behind it has a music label and is known for organizing great parties at the Wood and other venues! Because it’s on a rooftop, the capacity is limited, which means that it gives you the feeling of a very exclusive event!
Play Label Rooftop
Day: Thursday to Sunday (+ other days, see agenda)
Sedentary: Brussels, Crosly Bowling Rooftop – Outdoor
Outloud! Festival: another famous rooftop is the one that we can access on every year on June! The cultural center organise this in order to close the season with style… and they don’t fail!
The program is rich: a free screening of a music documentary followed by a DJ set or a concert. A perfect place to enjoy the show and the view!
Day: every day (close on Monday) – Sedentary: Rooftop of the Beurschouwburg – every June and as from 03/08/2016 open again for a drink (no events).
A new concept of apero on a boat will be possible since Summer 2014, it’s the Croisière apéro. For 12€ you board on a cruise and discover the canal from Brussels to Vilvoorde, enjoy the sunset with some music.
Day: Every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evening
Sedentary: Brussels, Port of Brussels
After a couple of years of Summer existence, les Jardins Suspendus are back under a new name: Skybar58. They offer a Rooftop apero on top of the Parking 58 building, ideally situated between De Brouckere and Sainte Catherine! For years, we’ve heard that the building will be demolished, so any occasion to still enjoy it is a good one! That said, the place is very popular… queue to get to the 10th floor, I’m afraid…
Day: Every Friday and Saturday
Sedentary: Brussels, Parking 58 Rooftop – Outdoor
At Tour& Taxi, near the canal, you can also reach the rooftop once a week. The event is called “Le Toit – Rooftop“, it’s open every Thursday during the Summer!
Le Toit – Rooftop
Day: Every Thursday
Sedentary: Brussels, Tour & Taxi Rooftop – Outdoor
Bruxelles Les Bains hosts many various activities. So we can easily forget that the event held an open air from. The concept is called La Croisetteke and it’s host by many of the nicest concept of independent parties in Brussels! It’s free and goes till 10 pm (or 11 pm) just before the DJ’s and the public board on the Boat party for the night!
La Croisetteke (Bruxelles Les Bains)
Day: Friday and Saturday
Sedentary: Bruxelles Les Bains (Yser) – Outdoor
2. OPEN AIR PARTIES
Open air parties on a weekend are my favorite events: definitely a place to have a drink, being outdoor during the sunny season, usually with a nice lineup! It’s a party but in the daylight!
PikniK: Organised by the same team who’s behind the Zunkunft parties, this is the oldest electro Open Air in Brussels (and nearly the only one).
It all started as a cool get together in the Parc Duden (in Forest), and year after year, its reputation is growing (despite some difficulties in the past which nearly ended it all for good). They’re back in 2014 and after 2 days, there’s already more then 10.000 people who subscribed to the opening event in the Bois de la Cambre… so probably forget about the nice and chill open air it used to be… !
Day: Sundays According to agenda
Nomadic – Outdoor
Brüxsel Jardin: they take over a very urban corner of the city and they transform it into a green garden for an afternoon! Expect some good electro music there too!
Day: Sundays according to agenda
Nomadic – Outdoor (+ extra indoor session on Winter)
Electronic Garden started during the Summer 2013 in the Royal Park, and is thus one of the many events held in that park during the Summer. In 2016, they will also have edition at ParckFarm of Tours & Taxis.
Day: Every Sunday
Sedentary: Brussels, Royal Park (check agenda) – Outdoor
ON. : a new open air party concept starts this Summer 2016! It’s an electro music party and the first edition will be on Sunday 10th July at Parckfarm.
Day: Sunday (check the agenda)
Outdoor – Seasonal
3. SEASONAL SPOTS
Terrasse de l’Hippodrome : The former hippodrome for Boistfort, today abandoned, offers a great site: between glamour from the past in this very green area and the fact that the decay of the building: it offers a nice contrast. Every year the site is taking over for a few weeks, and transformed in a little place where you can have a drink the classy way! The decorum is inspired by the tropics (and I will say the Bahamas more than Goa) and they have some luxurious sponsors.
Every day – Sedentary – Hippodrome de Boitsfort – Outdoor – Seasonal (from May to July)
Bar Eliza: 2016 is just a reedition of all previous years, only worse: as many concepts closed… fortunatelly there’s this one new Summer bar in Park Elisabeth… The bar will not only offer drinks to people spending their afternoon in the park, but also organise a variety of events like movie screenings or concerts…
Every day – Sedentary – Park Elizabeth
Coucou Brussels: A nice seasonal concept offering an open air bar at several different public spaces around the city: you can find a Coucou at Place Poelaert (the perfect spot to enjoy sunset as it’s open later than the 3 other spots), at the Atomium (under a spectacular but weird architecture gem), but also at Mont des Arts (a perfect place to have a drink in a spot right of the middle of many things going on during the Summer), Cinquantenaire Park, Central and Sainte Gudule area!
Every Sunny Day of the Summer – Sedentary – Poelart, Atomium, Mont des Arts, Cinquantenaire, Sainte-Gudule, Central
The Park To Be: July and August at the Park Josaphat with many activities: culture, sport, workshop for the kids,… Check their website to find out when you can visit the park with a guide, play geocaching or train to pétanques ball, or know when to avoid those and find the perfect moment for a drink or grab something to eat…
Every Day till 11th September 2016 – Sedentary – Josaphat Park
Jardin Essentiel (Parckdesign) : a program full of activities are offered right in the middle of the district Forest and its beautiful Duden Park. Many activities are linked with the fact that they have planted a medicinal plants garden: so massages, grainotheque, doing your own cream are on the program, but also yoga, tango or even a Dj set sometimes are on the list!
Every Day from 14th July till 11th September 2016 – Sedentary – Duden Park + Satellites
La Guinguette du Parc de Forest : for the Vegan foodies, it’s a perfect spot right in the middle of the second park in Forest! It serves food but it’s also a place where you can enjoy a concert, a yoga session or even tree climbing! The events can be found on their FB page.
From Tuesday to Sunday during the Summer- Sedentary – Forest Park
Frunch: this one is not really about having a drink nor afterwork: actually the name comes from “Food truck” and “Lunch”… The BIP (a building in Place Royale), has a courtyard and transforms it into a terrace for the Summer lunch every Friday.
Every Friday till 15th September 2016 – Sedentary – BIP – Seasonal
4. CULTURAL FIX
My favourite type of aperos are the one with some cultural insights: cinéma, culture, science, literature, philosophy…What is your personal interest? No doubt you’ll find the right apero with the right people you’ll meet here!
Ciné Apéro: you go there to watch a movie, but the apero is included. The same movie is shown twice and between the two sessions you have a drink… Try to not spoil the ones who didn’t watch the movie yet!
Day: Wednesday – Sedentary: Centre culturel La Vénerie, Watermael-Boitsfort – All year long – Indoor
Apéro Reading: a focus on Italian literature for this Italian bookshop in the heart of the European quarter. As the place is also a wine bar, the idea of an apero reading comes naturally!
Day: See agenda – Sedentary: Piola Libri – All year long – Indoor
5. ALL YEAR LONG
Addicted to after work drink? Want to network? Outdoor or indoor there’re many other options available to you any time of the year!
A. A drink at the market
While Summertime is THE apero period of the year, it became more and more popular to have a drink at the local outdoor market. We’re talking about fresh food markets: so what you’ll be drinking and eating here will vary with the seasons: muddled wine in the heart of Winter, Rose or White wine, depending on your taste in the Spring,… It’s also a nice place for an outdoor brunch or light dinner thanks to the many food trucks.
While having a drink there, don’t forget to bring back the groceries after the fun!
Here are some of the most popular markets for a drink, fingers food and networking.
Place du Chatelain: probably the most popular one! While the market takes place in the Place itself, drinkers spread all around the place and the many bars surrounding it. It is so popular that the Mayor of Ixelles had to restraint the consumption of alcohol in the public space in that area during the sunny season!
Day: Every Wednesday afternoon – Outdoor
All year long
Boeremet: The Market of Abattoirs is a very popular food for many families: from Friday to Sunday, the place is full of people from different social and ethnic origins. It’s really a place to be to find some cheap vegetables, meat, or other important stuff.
Then somebody thought that the place is too beautiful to not have a drink here. And while the place is packed only during the week-end, space is available any other day of the week! So on Thursdays you can go and have a drink and some food, enjoy some music and visit this wonderful architectural place.
Day: Every Thursday as from 5 pm – Outdoor covered
Marché Flagey: every week-end: fresh vegetables, fruit, bread, honey and tables and trucks to have an early afternoon apero!
Day: Saturday and Sunday morning – Outdoor
All year long
Marché de la Place Van Meenen: While the Parvis has a Market every day of the week except on Monday, up the hill, in front of the splendid Town Hall, there’s a market that day who became the meeting point of locals getting together in order to support each other at the beginning of the week!
Day: Monday afternoon – Outdoor
All year long
Marché de la Place des Chasseurs Ardennais: another good reason to spend some time in Schaerbeek on a Friday and to savor some delicatessen.
Day: Friday – Outdoor
All year long
Marché Gourmet du Sablon: Since 2014, the Sablon area has also it’s a small market to taste products! It’s a bit more expensive than other markets.
Day: Thursday (from 3 to 9 pm) – Outdoor
All year long
B. Networking & professional after work drinks
You’re the type who’s obsessed with your career? You only allow yourself to have a drink outside if it gives you a networking opportunity for future collaboration? So you must know about the following organisations!
Apéros Entrepreneurs: a monthly meeting focused on Entrepreneurship. It’s in a different location every time, welcomed by a hotel, company, club or any other prestigious venue around town
Day: First Thursday of the Month – Nomadic – All year long (break during Summer) – Indoor
Apero’thbard : Organised every month by the Parti Libertarien, it’s meant to meet and discuss the political views and exchange point of view about the economy and Libertarian program.
Day: Friday Once a month – Nomadic – Indoor
So it’s not a surprise that some sports clubs do have their own official apéros. What would the life of a club be if it was just about a sport?
Apéro Ligue: Every Thursday during a few weeks, Uccle Sport welcomes Apéros Ligue, and you’ll have a local club atmosphere. It’s a good way to have a drink in style while some others are way more active on the field! Are you a Tennis Champion inside? Has Hockey no secrets for you? Or maybe you’re a champion at having the best drink at the best place!
Sedentary: Uccle Sport – Outdoor
There are many “apéros” organised in bars around town. It’s difficult to list them all. Note that for some curious and unknown reason all the terraces are open and you can sit outside even if the weather is showers or snow!
The most famous place for a drink is probably the after work time in all the many bars of Place du Luxembourg, in front of the European Parliament. The crowd get there on Thursday (most popular day) and Friday. The area is known for its nickname “Plux“!
That said, while you’ll meet many people from all around EU, locals tend to hate the place: they prefer going to Parvis de Saint-Gilles, Flagey area, or any other nice cafe close to their home… Hopefully, you will also find your own “stamcafé“!
If you want to follow the news about all those activities, you can subscribe to the interest list I’ve created on FB called “Brussels – Apero & Open Air“