Kursaal Ostend, an iconic concert and event venue

After the bombing of the former Casino/Kursaal during WWII, the renowned Antwerp architect Léon Stijnen was commissioned to design a new cultural and events venue in Ostend. The current complex of the Casino/Kursaal dates back to 1953. In his design, architect Stijnen ensured a unique integration of art, culture, and experience. Nearly 70 years later, Kursaal Oostende with its magnificent concert hall, various multifunctional rooms, multiple restaurants, and a bustling casino is more than ever the vibrant center for a wide range of spectacles, concerts, events, and various other activities. This caters to both a large audience and B to B. The latter targets primarily the business sector or specific target groups.

We meet the 3 protagonists of Kursaal Oostende in the wings of the concert hall. Peter Craeymeersch, general manager, Gwendoline Nys, deputy director, and Kateryna Kroshka, marketing manager, give us an explanation of the ins and outs of this magnificent cultural and event venue.

Too much to mention
“It’s almost impossible to list everything,” Peter starts. “To give you an idea: last year, we had nearly 200 performances here and welcomed 250,000 visitors. Our location is indeed unique, right in the vibrant and touristy heart of Ostend, the City by the Sea, in the center of Belgian art, right by the sea, with an abundance of infrastructure and facilities suitable for large international concerts as well as smaller-scale initiatives. This year too, our program is extremely diverse. You could call it ‘very broad.’ Both classical and modern… and everything in between. We consciously target a diverse audience, including adults, families, and children. While most indoor concert halls experience a decline in the summer, our programming is spread throughout the year. We benefit from a continuous influx of tourists, to which we owe a large part of our success. Many visitors come to Ostend because of our programming, often staying one or more nights or combining their visit to Kursaal Oostende with a nice meal. You could call it a win-win for everyone: for us, for the visitors, for the local hospitality industry, for the hotel sector, and more broadly, for the entire local trade and economy.”

Also for conferences, seminars, and much more
“Besides our concerts and performances for the general public, we also host a large number of corporate events annually,” adds Kateryna. “Last year, we had about 40 activities for specific target groups such as a week for nurses, a geriatrics congress, corporate events for KBC, a Podcast festival, the Film Festival of Ostend, Generation Wow – a generation of ambitious women in business – and much more. We indeed have all the necessary facilities in place for this. Our location, right in the center of Ostend and the proximity to a wide range of high-quality hotels, is obviously a significant asset. Because we are not subsidized as a concert and event venue, it goes without saying that our ‘Business to Business’ activities, just like the numerous performances and concerts, are very important for the annual operation of Kursaal Oostende.”

A driven team
“We manage everything here with a very limited young, dynamic team of 11 permanent employees,” clarifies Gwendoline. “In addition, depending on the size of the event, we can rely on a group of about 30 enthusiastic volunteers, interns, and flex workers who are part of our ‘hospitality team’ to ensure that everything runs smoothly. So, we do everything we can to spoil our audience and visitors as best as possible. Our programming runs until October this year. After that, we will have to close the concert hall for some time because significant modifications to the venue are on the agenda. After the renovations, we will have even more possibilities as the hall will be available for both standing and seated activities. After more than 70 years of operation, Kursaal Oostende, while still building on the original philosophy of architect Stijnen, will offer even more possibilities than before,” concludes Gwendoline Nys.

An impressive lineup
There’s certainly a lot to experience at Kursaal Oostende until October this year. About 80% of the productions are brought by external programmers and organizers. The remaining 20% is organized by Kursaal Oostende itself. This allows Kursaal Oostende to reach not only an audience from Ostend and the surrounding areas but from across the country as well. Due to its unique location and the fact that there is something to enjoy all year round, Kursaal Oostende can even boast an international audience from the Netherlands, England, France, and even Canada.

Camille paints Kursaal Oostende pink with MAGIC

CAMILLE, this summer you’re once again going to captivate Ostend, with shows on July 20 & 21 and August 17 & 18, 2024, at Kursaal Oostende. It seems that Ostend has gradually become your second home, do you have a special connection with this city?

Camille: “I’m originally from West Flanders, so performing in this region always feels a bit like coming home for me. I’m really excited to be on stage at Kursaal Oostende this summer and I can’t wait to see all my fans there!”

Before you start the shows in Ostend, you’ll be performing a whopping 4 times at the Sportpaleis on May 4 & 5! How are the preparations going for this and what can fans expect?

Camille: “Indeed, next month it’s finally happening and I’ll be performing my new show ‘Magic’ four times at the Sportpaleis… I can hardly believe it myself but I’m incredibly excited! It will be my biggest show to date, and I’m already rehearsing to make it the most spectacular performance I’ve ever delivered. From dance rehearsals to fitting costumes, it’s starting to take shape and I can’t wait to be on stage at the Sportpaleis! The show is called ‘Magic’ – just like my latest album by the way – and I’m going to ensure it’s a magical spectacle that my fans hopefully won’t forget anytime soon!”

What can fans expect during your shows at Kursaal Oostende?

Camille: “That’s right, in the summer I’ll be at Kursaal Oostende for one weekend in July and one weekend in August with my ‘Magic Tour by the Sea.’ As the title suggests, these shows are a continuation of my Sportpaleis show but in the cozy setting of a theater. The show itself will be very spectacular, allowing fans to experience it even more up close!”

Meanwhile, you’re also heavily involved in other projects, such as your TV project ‘MILO’ where you play the lead role. Does the character ‘Milo’ closely resemble your own personality?

Camille: “I can relate a lot to Milo because, like her, I was insecure about many things in the past. It’s a really fun role to play, and I’m incredibly grateful that so many people watch the series every day.”

Is there anything musically in store for the summer, can we expect new music for example?

Camille: “Absolutely, this summer I’ll definitely release a new summer song and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone in Ostend singing and dancing along!”

This summer, CAMILLE will be performing for a total of 2 weekends at Kursaal Oostende with her ‘Magic Tour by the Sea’:

Saturday, July 20: 2 PM & 6 PM
Sunday, July 21: 10 AM & 2 PM
Saturday, August 17: 2 PM & 6 PM
Sunday, August 18: 10 AM & 2 PM

Tickets are available via
Text: Walter Ego – Photos: © Kursaal Oostende