Beat the blues with the boys of Brussels

Make the most of your mini-break.

Beat the blues with the boys of Brussels

If, like me, you're feeling a bit exhausted from the emotional roller-coaster of day-to-day life, then a mini-break could be what you need.

Sure, it's not going to fix any of the structural geo-political issues that seem determined to grind us all down, but giving yourself a change of scene and a fresh perspective is at least a helpful distraction that might just help you hang in there for a bit longer.

We've got to find those brief glimpses of joy whenever and wherever possible.

So, that brings us to Brussels.

Brussels is one of those cities that you might not immediately put at the top of your mini-break destination wish-list. It's often in the news for administrative reasons, and first-impressions of the Belgian capital can be a bit misleading - it's one of those places that you need to figure out how to get under its skin in order to experience the best of it.

LGBTQ Pride

An easy entry point for Brussels is the city's annual Pride celebrations. This happens in May each year and it's the kind of Pride that is embraced by the city - several different performance and DJ stages, bars serving drinks in the streets, people everywhere. This results in something of a queer tsunami that you can't help but be swept up in.

Parties

If you're looking for a weekend that gets a bit large, Brussels has a thriving nightlife and a big summer of music festivals.

A simple way to keep your options open is the Volume pass - giving you access to the clubs and parties that you might want to sample while you're in town.

La Demence is the daddy of all Belgian parties - they've been at it for over 30 years.. La Demence is on pretty much monthly, but their Halloween extravaganza is worth making the trip for - four parties in four nights, you'll need your comfortable shoes and plenty of stamina.

Culture

This is a city that is awash with history and culture. There's plenty of big-ticket events and exhibitions that are worth planning your trip around, but if you're just looking for a bit of a taste of everything, the Brussels Card gives you access to all the museums and a range of discounts on useful stuff.

If surrealist art is the kind of thing that gets your attention, then this is a good time to book your trip. There's major exhibitions exploring surrealism at Bozar, the Royal Museums of Fine Artsm, and the Magritte Museum.

Art Nouveau is also a big deal in Brussels. The BANAD festival takes place each March and provides unique access to the hidden art nouveau interiors that showcase this haute-couture architectural style.

Locals are raving about the Kevin Sabo exhibition at EDJI Gallery in le quartier du Ch√Ętelain.

Food

There are some iconic elements of Belgian cuisine that are definitely worth sinking your teeth into - waffles, chocolate, fries, mussels. They're all delicious but there's also a lot more to discover.

On my most recent visit, one of the highlights of the weekend was lunch at Kline - a fresh, contemporary restaurant near Place Sainte-Catherine. Sharing-plates of interesting flavour combinations had us savouring every mouthful.

Another favourite was Brasserie Ommegang on rue de la Montagne - simple food but a vibrant atmosphere and friendly and welcoming waiters.

Hotels

Brussels is a city that is well-served by hotels - at every price-point.

As well as being guided by your budget, try and choose a hotel that aligns with what you're planning for the weekend. While the city's public transport is easy to navigate, it's nice to be able to walk to most things that you want to explore.

On my most recent, I stayed at Indigo - a New York style hotel with a contemporary vibe, just near Rogier metro station. Their in-house restaurant, Serra, specialises in vegetarian dishes.

Locals

What really makes a visit to Brussels is the people that you meet. This is a city where it feels as if the world comes together in interesting ways.

While French and Flemish are the official languages, English is also widely understood so it's pretty easy to connect with guys that live here.

Whether you're getting to know people while you're out and about or just putting your Gaydar to work and hitting up whoever is closest to you on the apps, asking the locals about what to do and where to go is the best way to really make the most of your time in Brussels.

The ideal mini-break destination.

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