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The Passa Porta Festival is a must-attend event in the literary calendar of Brussels. The ninth edition of the festival took place from March 22 to 26 with the theme of REFUGE.

Literary pleasures in your calendar

Every two years Passa Porta draws about 100 national and international writers, thinkers and artists to Brussels. They come from around the world and speak a range of languages. Scattered throughout the heart of the city, they bear witness to their love of the written word, shine their light on developments in the world, and pay tribute to the best literature from Belgium and abroad.

For a few days in March, the writers – both established names and emerging talents – appear in the many cultural temples which the city boasts, among which AB, La Bellone, Beursschouwburg, De Munt/La Monnaie, Muntpunt, Théâtre National ... They also turn up in more unexpected places, such as shops and cafés and even in the street.

2023 marked a special edition for this major literary gathering in Brussels. In March 2023, the Passa Porta Festival included the hosting, from 22 to 24 March, by Passa Porta and the City of Brussels, of the ‘ICORN Network Meeting’, a major annual gathering of the international cities of refuge network for writers, artists and journalists in exile. The two events were therefore conceived in line with one another and under a common theme: REFUGE.

A literary mecca in the heart of Europe

The Passa Porta Festival is a carefully planned series of meetings and exchanges with writers as well as readings, performances, debates and audacious cross-pollinations between literature and other art forms. The common point between these different activities? They all provide food for thought.

The biennial festival grew out of our firm belief that literature is essential in society and also out of our desire to share good literature with as many people as possible.

At the Passa Porta Festival, the only multilingual literary event on this scale in Europe, there is something for everyone. Virtually all genres are on offer.

To give you an idea of the calibre, previous editions of the festival featured the following authors: Annie Ernaux, Russell Banks, Tash Aw, Julian Barnes, A.S. Byatt, Jonathan Coe, Fatou Diome, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Vladimir Sorokin, Richard Ford, Nancy Huston, Roy Jacobsen, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Lisette Lombé, Deborah Levy, Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi, Ian Mc Ewan, Yoko Ogawa, Orhan Pamuk, Max Porter, Boualem Sansal, Ali Smith, Douglas Stuart, Olga Tokarczuk, among many more!


A look back at the ninth edition of the festival

Pictures © Caroline Lessire, Inge Vermeiren, Martine Dewil, Catherine Renard, Werner Strouven, Françoise Robert, Chantal Moens, David Martens, Omar ait Jeddig, Etienne Averlant, Bea Borgers, Timothy Lawrence, Jean-Marc Virign.

aftermovie © David Martens