Europalia (stylized as europalia since 2023) is a Brussels-based, international biennial arts festival that highlights the cultural heritage and art scene of one invited country. On multiple occasions, the festival has also dedicated editions to a theme rather than a country. Europalia was established with the aim of bringing the arts and culture of European countries to the heart of Europe itself. Although, since 1989 – with Europalia Japan – non-european countries have also featured. The very first festival in 1969 was dedicated to Italy.

2023 europalia georgia festival banner
GenreBiennale; focuses on the cultural heritage and art scene of one invited country, and includes visual arts, performing arts, film, music, literature and debate
Location(s)Brussels, Belgium

The name europalia is a combination of two words: "Europe" and "Opalia", an ancient Roman harvest festival held in mid-December in honour of Ops, earth-goddess and fertility deity. Her name lies at the root of the Latin word "Opus", that denotes a work of art.

For approximately four months (traditionally starting in October), and in partnership with a wide network of cultural partners (museums, theatre and concert halls and other venues), europalia presents a series of artistic and socio-cultural projects that bring together visual arts, performing arts, film, music, literature and debate. In recent years, newly commissioned projects and artistic residencies have started occupying a central place in the multidisciplinary programme, which focuses on both the heritage and the contemporary art scene of the invited country.

The opening event takes place in the capital, but the programme also unfolds in other cities across Belgium, such as Liège and Antwerp, among others. Other European cities (in countries such as the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg and Germany) have also hosted europalia events.

The festival expenses are shared between Belgium and the invited country. Europalia is financially supported by Belgium’s national, regional and community governments, among others.

The upcoming festival, starting in October 2025, will be europalia españa.

History of festivals

Europalia Italia 1969
Europalia Romania 2019
europalia georgia 2023

Selection of notable events

  • 1971Rembrandt and his Time (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Netherlands)
  • 1973David Hockney (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Great Britain)
  • 1980Bruegel, a Dynasty of Painters (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Belgium)
  • 2003Venus Unveiled (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Italia) – curator: Umberto Eco
  • 2009The State of Things (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia China) – curators: Ai Wei Wei and Luc Tuymans
  • 2011Tropicália (concert) by Tom Zé & Quintet at VIERNULVIER (Ghent), DE SINGEL (Antwerp) and other venues (Europalia Brazil)
  • 2017Power and Other Things (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Indonesia)
  • 2019Brancusi. Sublimation of Form (exhibition) at Bozar, Brussels (Europalia Romania)
  • 2021La Ronde by Boris Charmatz/Terrain (performance) at Brussels North Station (Europalia Trains & Tracks)
  • 2023 – Georgian Polyphony: Triple Bill Basiani Ensemble, Gori Women’s Choir & Georgian State Chamber Choir (concert) at Concertgebouw (Bruges) and other venues (Europalia Georgia)

General and Artistic Directors

  • 1985 – 1993 Martine Baudin, General Director
  • 1993 – 1996 Paul Vandenbussche, General Director
  • 1996 – 2005 Luc Stainier, General Director
  • 2005 – 2017 Kristine De Mulder, General Director
  • 2014 – present Dirk Vermaelen, Artistic Director
  • 2017 – 2023 Koen Clement, General Director
  • 2023 – present Christian Salez, General Director

See also