Antwerp has a vibrant and diverse cultural scene, and the best way to get a handle on it is to pick up the very useful, fortnightly Zone 03 (wwww.zone03.be), a free Dutch-language newssheet which details all up-and-coming events, exhibitions and concerts; it’s available from the tourist office and at newsstands all over the city centre. The city has its own orchestra and opera companies as well as several good Flemish theatre troupes, and there are occasional appearances by touring English-language theatre companies too. English-language films are almost always subtitled – as distinct from dubbed – and Antwerp has a reliable, city-centre art-house cinema.
Antwerp’s fluid club scene is in a rude state of health, with a handful of boisterous places dotted round the peripheries of the city centre. They get going at around midnight and admission fees are typically modest (€10 or so) except for big-name DJs. There’s a flourishing jazz scene too, with a couple of good places in the centre.
As regards festivals, the city hosts a goodly portion of the Festival van Vlaanderen (Flanders Festival; wwww.festival.be), which runs from May to November and features more than one hundred classical concerts performed in cities across the whole of Flemish-speaking Belgium. There’s also SFINKS (wwww.sfinks.be), Belgium’s best world music festival, held outdoors over the last weekend of July in the suburb of Boechout, about 10km southeast of downtown Antwerp.
Tickets for most concerts and events are on sale at Info Cultuur (t03 338 95 85, wwww.infocultuur.be), which shares its premises with the tourist office at Grote Markt 13. A comparable service is provided at the Fnac store, on the Groenplaats.