Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

The cultural city festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ pays homage to Peter Paul Rubens and his Baroque cultural heritage in 2018. In an ambitious exhibition programme, historical Baroque enters into dialogue with contemporary grandmasters. In addition to the exhibition programme, the cultural city festival presents a varied programme in the city full of music, theatre, literature, street art, photography, installation art, performances and walks developed by and in collaboration with many well-known names from the Antwerp arts scene. The Baroque festival officially kicks off the three-year Flemish Masters programme, which puts Rubens, Brueghel and van Eyck in the spotlight and with which VISITFLANDERS and its partners hope to attract more demanding visitors from all over the world to Flanders. Visit Flanders and the city of Antwerp are investing 8.8 million euros in 2018 to strengthen the international reputation of Peter Paul Rubens.

Peter Paul Rubens inspires

Rubens is the personification of the Baroque epoch and an icon of Antwerp. He was the one who introduced the new Baroque language to the Low Countries and has remained part of the city until today. More than 50 of his works are on permanent display in Antwerp and, with the architecture of the Saint Charles Borromeo's church, The Rubens House and many other artefacts, he literally left a trail through the city.

Even today, Peter Paul Rubens is an important source of inspiration for contemporary artists and the atypical lifestyle of the city and its inhabitants. In his wake, Antwerp artists have always continued innovating and renewing. The Baroque festival brings the historic Baroque of Rubens into contact with contemporary visual artists, including Jan Fabre, Luc Tuymans and Tony Le Duc. This meeting should lead to promising expositions, performances and events with new artistic creations, some of which will be permanently integrated into the city.

The cultural programme tells a story about the Baroque, both past and present. But the city, and the world in all its diversity, is and was its decorum. Visitors not only discover Rubens' Baroque legacy in the arts, but also in Antwerp's joie de vivre. The Baroque festival promises to be outspokenly extroverted and combine artistic quirkiness with authentic hospitality.

Exhibition programme

The backbone of the city festival is a series of eight exhibitions, in which Rubens and the Baroque are confronted with contemporary art and artists. In total, these exhibitions will present nearly 300 works of art. From historic and contemporary masters. From paintings and photos to book illustrations and performances. From Rubens and Caravaggio to William Forsythe and Edward Kienholz. It is a unique opportunity for Antwerp and the public to experience art as a way of life - just as Rubens did.

The exhibitions will take place in The Rubens House, the MAS, the M HKA (in collaboration with the KMSKA), the Middelheim Museum, the FOMU | Photo Museum, the Museum Plantin-Moretus and the Snijders&Rockox House.

You can find a detailed overview of the expositions in the attachment Exhibition programme.

Exposition tickets are available at

Baroque in the City

In Antwerp, Baroque is not only a matter that concerns museums. It is also present in the city's churches, its streets and in Antwerp's joie de vivre. The city presents a varied programme full of music, theatre, literature, street art, photography, installation art, performances and walks developed by and in collaboration with the Antwerp arts scene. Jan Fabre, Koen Theys, Yvon Tordoir, AMUZ, FC Bergman, graindelavoix, Muziektheater Transparant, Johan Petit … these are just a few names that will introduce visitors to the city's Baroque character.

10 projects centred around visual arts, 22 musical projects - good for more than 50 concerts in total - 12 theatre and music-theatre productions, 3 new city walks, several lecture series, 4 festivals within the festival, a series of Baroque-Antwerp regional products and one major festive opening weekend, the Antwerp art sector engages the dialogue between the historical and contemporary Baroque.

The festival runs from June 2018 to January 2019 and strives for international excellence, surprise and innovation. The 2018 Baroque Year wants to show residents and visitors, let them taste and feel that nowhere else is it possible to get closer to the Rubens and Baroque phenomenon than in Antwerp.

An overview of all activities with further explanation can be found in the attachment Baroque in the City.

Tickets for performances are available at

About Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

Caroline Bastiaens, Alderwoman for Culture of the City of Antwerp: “In the coming months, our city will be steeped in Baroque, not just from Rubens’s era, but in a contemporary Baroque, with Rubens as its guide and source of inspiration. This festival is truly worth travelling to Antwerp for, with a varied and extensive programme, with major exhibitions and cultural events in venues across the city. Together they reveal the many faces of the Baroque culture and lifestyle, then and now, to the locals and to visitors to Antwerp.” 

Minister Ben Weyts: “Rubens is a timeless icon of Flemish craftsmanship. We want to entice art lovers from around the world to discover the homeland of the Flemish masters, using Rubens as our calling card. I am investing 6 million euros in projects related to Rubens, in this cultural city festival and in the construction of a new Rubens Experience Center. And we will recoup this entire investment thanks to all the additional investors this will attract.”

Koen Kennis, Antwerp alderman for tourism and trade: “Visit Antwerp has created the Baroque Festival Card especially for the festival. As well as giving visitors free access to all the participating exhibitions and churches for 48 hours, it also comes with a walking guide, which they can use to explore the city of Rubens. This is set to be an exciting year for tourism in Antwerp, during which we hope to visitors will enjoy an unforgettable Baroque experience.”

Antwerp Baroque 2018 in stats 

  • The cultural city festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ is an initiative of the city of Antwerp with the support of Visit Flanders and has been realised in collaboration with some 50 cultural and artistic partners in the city.
  • The city of Antwerp and Visit Flanders have together invested 8.8 million euros in the cultural city festival ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’ to reinforce the international reputation of Peter Paul Rubens.
  • At least 625.000 visitors are expected, half of them from abroad.
  • Approximately 300 loans, spread over the eight exhibitions, make it a truly unique festival. Many of these loans can be admired for the first and only time in Antwerp.
  • The festival offers a lot of once in a lifetime experiences, but also wants to permanently leave its mark on the city, including the art integration of Jan Fabre's new work in the former Saint Augustine Church.
  • Visit Antwerp has developed the Baroque Festival Card especially for the Baroque festival, giving visitors access to all participating exhibitions and churches for 48 hours and allowing exploration of the city of Rubens through a walking guide.
  • The Antwerp Museum App is the perfect instrument to discover the Baroque character of the city and get more out of an exhibition visit, with a walk along the monumental churches or the street art trail. Especially for ‘Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires’, the Antwerp Museum App has been expanded to six languages. Apart from Dutch, French, English and German, tours and walks are now also offered in Spanish and Italian.
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About Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires

The cultural city festival “Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires” pays tribute to Peter Paul Rubens and his baroque, cultural legacy. Rubens was one of the most influential artists ever and is still widely regarded as Antwerp’s most famous inhabitant. He is the personification of the Baroque and continues to be an important source of inspiration, for contemporary artists and for the atypical lifestyle of the city of Antwerp and its population. “Antwerp Baroque 2018” tells the story of the Baroque, then and now, establishing a dialogue between the historic Baroque and contemporary artist, using the city and the world as a backdrop. “Antwerp Baroque 2018. Rubens inspires” is a key event in the Flemish Masters programme, which is organised by VISITFLANDERS. Combining artistic individuality with genuine hospitality, the festival promises to be uniquely extraverted. From June 2018 until January 2019 in Antwerp.