The Brussels Days in Washington and New York

For the 13th Brussels Days, which took place from 21 to 24 May 2018, a delegation from Brussels travelled to New York and Washington. There were official meetings with local officials and seminars with tourism professionals and companies of all kinds.

Held every year since 2006 in a different city, the Brussels Days aim to promote everything the capital of Europe has to offer, in terms of tourism, investment, technology, professional support, etc. This year’s mission focused on tourism, eco-construction, the Brussels hip-hop scene, gastronomy, new technologies and creative industries (fashion & design). A unique opportunity for different Brussels and US professionals to exchange views and glimpse possible future collaborations.

150,000 employees in the United States depend on Belgian investors while American investments in Belgium generate 126,000 jobs. 22,000 Belgians live in the United States while 40,000 Americans live in Belgium. Brussels and Washington are part (with Dubai and Singapore) of the Global Association Hubs Partnership to collaborate in hosting international associative events.

In the field of tourism the figures are also eloquent. Numerous American tourists travel to the capital. No less than 403,326 overnight stays were recorded in 2017, an increase of 28% over the previous year. Whether for business tourism (45%) or leisure (55%), American visitors are keen to spend a few nights in the European capital. The American market is the 6th largest market in terms of tourism and represents 6% of overnight stays in Brussels.

Brussels Grand Place

A number of companies and official American representatives were invited to the event. Over 120 people flocked to the ambassador’s residence. selected people from the Region met Rachid Madrane, the Minister of the Wallonie-Brussels Region in charge of promoting Brussels, at the event. He had already taken part in the talk“The Belgian Aesthetic and the Power of Visual Storytelling” a meeting between the famous Brussels photographer Pierre Debusschere and the New Yorker Katharine Zarella organized by MAD Brussels. During the afternoon, in random fashion, several meetings put the Brussels calendar in sync with New York’s: Alive animation on THE LOT RADIO in Brooklyn, simulcast on KIOSK RADIO in Brussels, with the Brussels band STIKSTOF. The evening ended with an event that paired with handcrafted beers. Over 300 people took part in the various events that day.

STIKSTOF band who performed

On Wednesday 23 May, after “The Algorithm Economy”, a MAD Fashion Business Trip workshop and a workshop between the Brussels and New York authorities on skills exchange regarding passive construction, the winners of the Ice Box Challenge were announced. Since 21 April, two hermetically sealed containers, each containing a ton of ice, had been standing at the crossroads of Broadway and 40th Street these ice boxes was made using classic construction methods and the other a passive method. The results: When the containers were opened on 23 May, the “classic” container still held 7% of the ice originally placed in it while the passive container had42%. The public had been invited to vote on them to win gifts from Brussels, such as a Godiva gift box, tastings of Brussels beers at BXL Zoute, a Brussels restaurant on 22nd Street in New York, a shared bicycle subscription and, of course, a trip to Brussels!


To end these Brussels Days, an exclusive held in the prestigious setting of the Irving Plaza. Entitled“Beats by Brussels”, it featured the Brussels rappers Veence Hanao and STIKSTOF and the young New York rapper, Young M.A. Over 500 people came to the Irving Plaza, filling it to the brim for the occasion. Lastly, some meetings of note took place on Thursday 24 May: a talk on the theme“Scaling up High Performance Buildings: Brussels and New York lead the Way toward more Sustainable Cities”, the New York version of the event organized on 21 May in Washington, a MAD workshop, a lunch with the partners of the Ice Box Challenge and a visit to a passive house on Roosevelt Island. This tightly packed programme allowed the visitors from Brussels to forge some strong links in the key areas around the regional capital.