If you’re attending this year’s ICS Regional Meeting in Brussels, then here are a few suggestions for places to visit and things to see and do whilst you’re there!
The Grand Place - This square marks the heart of Brussels' Lower Town district and is surrounded by ornate Gothic and Baroque style buildings. There is always something going on in the square, so it’s a great place to walk around, enjoy the architecture, history and hustle and bustle, whilst enjoying a quick bite to eat and drink.
Brussels Christmas Market – the Grand Place hosts the world-famous Brussels Christmas Market. The winter wonderland opens on 30th November and includes more than 200 chalets, fairground rides, a large Christmas tree, and traditional festive entertainment.
Manneken Pis – people travel all over the world to see to view this landmark bronze sculpture, meaning "Lil' Piddler" in Dutch. This sculpture is of a little boy urinating into the fountain below. Perfect for an ICS meeting! If you're lucky you might even see him dressed up in costume. The changing of the costume, on the figure, is a colourful ceremony, often accompanied by brass band music.
Old England Building- This former department store is an art nouveau showpiece with a black facade with wrought iron and arched windows. The museum holds over 2000 historic instruments.
Visit the Comic Strip Centre (Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée) – If you’re a fan of comic books then this is the museum for you! The museum hosts several temporary displays throughout the year. The second floor hosts the permanent exhibition dedicated to the chronological history of the medium in Belgium called "The Museum of Imagination”. The exhibit starts off with Hergé and ends with Peyo, covering the pioneers of Belgian comics between 1929 and 1958 and with special focus on the magazines Spirou and Tintin. Each artist has a room dedicated to his work and designed in a playful way.
Horta Museum – One for art lovers. If you're a fan of the Art Nouveau movement then you must visit the Horta Museum. See where Victor Horta (the father of the movement) lived and worked. See how Horta developed an entirely new architectural scheme, using metals like iron and steel to create fluid structures and reveal structural elements that had never been seen or used before.
Waffles, fries, chocolate – Brussels is known for their food! Try the Carbonnades Flamandes / Stoverij similar to the French boeuf bourguignon but made with beer rather than wine, served with frites. Or for those with a sweet tooth try the Speculoos (known as Lotus Biscoff in the United States) they are Belgium's (unofficial) national cookie, they are a spiced shortbread.
You can’t go and not try a Brussels waffle, similar to the Belgium waffle, but they are made with a batter and are a perfect rectangular space. They are light and airy with a slight crunch. Or why not try a Lieges Waffle, popular in Belgium, these are more dense, sweet, oval shaped waffle. You can order them plain, with icing (powdered) sugar or topped with fruit, ice cream, fresh cream or Nutella - whatever your heart desires!
Beer- If you love beer then you will love Brussels! Belgium boasts more than 160 breweries and produces the 7th largest volume of beer in Europe – impressive! You will be spoilt for choice by the many local and craft beers available, served in a variety of bars and restaurants over the city.
Visit the Cantillon brewery to learn more about the local Lambic beer and history of brewing in Belgium. For those wanting to combine a tour with drinking, why not book the Brussels Beer Bus? This is a fun way to explore the city and taste a variety of local beers.
If you are planning on exploring the city and visiting museums whilst you’re there, then pick up a Brussels card. You can select either 24, 48- or 72-hour cards providing unlimited travel on public transport (STIB buses, trams and metro lined.) Plus, have access to 40 museums and discounts to tourist attractions, guided tours, shops, restaurants and bars. A must for those travelling on a budget!
We are very lucky that the Winter Wonders and Christmas Market opens on the first day of the meeting. If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, be sure to visit one of the many Christmas markets! Do you fancy something traditional, artisanal, gastronomic or what you will? Fond of alternative and vintage markets? The Brussels Christmas markets have something in store for everyone and they can be found all over the city! From the cobblestones of the Grand Place to the lanes of the green city quarters, even in the enchanting surroundings of a fairytale castle!
Don’t forget - if you post any pictures on social media, don’t forget to tag ICS in your posts @icsoffice using the hashtag #ICSeducation