Every year, fans and artists, publishers and buyers, the young and old gather in Brussels to take part in the BD Strip Festival (former Comic Strip Festival). The very name of the event reveals what it is dedicated to. And it is not surprising that such festival occurs in Brussels, one of the world’s capitals of the comic strip culture.
The first edition of the festival was organized in 2010 and since that moment it keeps on expanding and evolving. As of today, two main locations are occupied by the festival participants—the Gare Maritime and the Tour & Taxis sheds. Both venues are divided into thematic zones. For instance, in publishers’ spaces, the visitors may talk to authors, get autographs, attend conferences. Also, there are spots for screenings, exhibitions, workshops, and special areas with entertaining activities for the youngest. Even though the festival makes focus on the Belgian comic strip culture, the international pavilion introduces foreign artists.
On Sunday, two main events of the festival take place—the Balloon's Day Parade and the Car Rally. The parade unites dozens of famous cartoon characters that walk through the city centre on Sunday afternoon. Volunteers carry huge balloons shaped as Tintin, Lucky Luke, the Smurfs, etc. from Place des Palais through the main city centre boulevards. The Comic Strip Rally or Tintin Rally brings together the owners of vintage cars. They start their ride outside Brussels and after passing around 100 km (62 mi) they reach the finish line at Place des Palais.
Also, in Brussels, there are plenty of murals depicting cartoon characters. To see the best street art spots you may join a free guided walking or cycling tours that are on the program of the festival. In general, all the activities within the festival are free of charge.