Photo: Jef Van Eynde

Bloomsday – the festival in honour of writer James Joyce, his novel Ulysses and its protagonist Leopold Bloom – is celebrated worldwide on 16 June.  And also in Ostend, because Joyce and his family enjoyed a long holiday in the city during the heat wave of 1926. The third edition of Bloomsday in Ostend is yet another unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Joycean plaisanterie. On the programme

11:00   Opening of James & James in the new gallery [bu’ro], Torhoutsesteenweg 49, Ostend. Artist Philippe Tonnard (lives and works in Ghent) pays a unique homage to James Joyce in this new exhibition.

12:00   Walk towards the Promenade 

We’ll have lunch on the beach. Bring your own sandwiches and drinks! 

14:00 Bloomsday in KAAP, with:

Joyce and the Sirens by Geert Lernout. Otherwise known as THE Joyce expert. Founder of the James Joyce centre at the University of Antwerp. Author of numerous texts on Joyce in Dutch and English.

Music in the 1920s by Kurt Van Eeghem, a well-known figure from radio and TV. Author of the recently published book Oostende in de Belle Epoque, he’ll be taking a deep dive into the interwar period.

The Joyce family snapshots by Dirk Beirens. The renowned city guide shows how much Ostend has changed over the last century.

NB: all lectures are in Dutch

Open Mic. Over to you! Step onto the stage, or stand up from your seat, and read your favourite lines by Joyce. In English, Dutch, French, German or any language you love!

And last but not least: enjoy a drink and a chat.

Dress code: ‘James and Nora Joyce, Ostend 1926’ (not obligatory). For James, that’s a straw boater, blazer, white shirt and walking stick. For the Noras, as quirky as you like!

Free admission, advance registration essential via KAAP 

The Joyce family on holiday in 1926 (copyright: The University at Buffalo, New York)

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A collaboration between the Portiers van de Oceaan, KAAP, Oostende Leest and the non-profit organisation Exil. 

With generous support from the City of Ostend and the Irish Embassy.

JAMES (2020) by Hans Verhaegen

Telemachus (detail) from JAMES by Hans Verhaegen (a series of eighteen digital prints)

Bloomsday kicks off on 16 June with the opening of JAMES, an exhibition by Hans Verhaegen in the Ostend Library. Using his own unique font, the artist has created a ‘translation’ of ‘Ulysses’ by James Joyce. All 1.726.112 characters in the book are transformed into a series of eighteen digital prints. Join us at the Library for the opening on Thursday 16 June from 10.30 – 12.30. We’ll be dressing in the style of 1926, the year that James Joyce spent his summer holiday in Ostend – will you?

Bibliotheek Oostende Wellingtonstraat 17 8400 Oostende
Click here for library opening hours



Photo: James and Nora Joyce, with Patrick J. Hoey, lying in the grass at Ostend, August 1926. Collection: University at Buffalo, the State University of New York.

It’s not long to go until we celebrate Bloomsday in Ostend on 16 June 2022! We’re also launching Ostende! a special gazette featuring original texts on James Joyce and other cultural figures associated with the city. With contributions by Dirk Beirens, Philippe Braem, Koen Broucke, Paul Claes, Adriaan Gonnissen, Geert Leernout, Nicola Nord, Koen Peeters, Jean-Yves Plamont, Helen Simpson, Els Snick, Hendrik Tratsaert, Xavier Tricot, Jef Van Eynde, Lieven Van Den Abeele and Hans Verhaegen. Designed by Lodewijk Joye.

Expect an art exhibition based on the book by Hans Verhaegen in the municipal library, readings from Ulysses in different languages and dialects, a picnic on the beach (bring your own) and much more… Full details to follow soon!


James and Nora Joyce enjoy lunch with their son Giorgio in the garden of the Hôtel L’Océan, 1926
Published in James Joyce in Ostend by Xavier Tricot (Pandora, Antwerp, 2018)

Celebrate Leopold Bloom and the centenary of Ulysses in Ostend

16 June 2022

Readings, events, and performances – details to follow

Plus the launch of Ostende! a special Bloomsday publication dedicated to James Joyce and other eminent figures connected to the city.

Few realise it, but Ostend has its own unique connection to James Joyce. Four years after the publication of Ulysses, the author spent a happy holiday in the city with his wife, Nora, and their two children. It was the summer of 1926. Joyce wrote letters and postcards to his friends while here, many of which survive, as does an evocative set of photographs. This material forms the basis for Xavier Tricot’s detailed account of James Joyce in Ostend.

Ulysses is undoubtedly one of the most famous books about Dublin. Written over seven years in three different cities, and totalling 265,000 words, Joyce’s epic novel depicts the events of a single day in the city. The protagonist is one Leopold Bloom. Dublin has been celebrating Bloomsday on the anniversary of the date that features in the book – 16 June 1904 – since 1954. From small beginnings, it is now a city-wide festival that attracts an international audience. But the festivities aren’t limited to Ireland: Bloomsday is now celebrated by Joyce lovers around the world. This year, the party will be extra special as Ulysses turns 100.

Celebrating 100 years of a literary masterpiece

On 2 February 1922, Paris bookseller Sylvia Beach – founder of the legendary Shakespeare & Company – published the first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. It was a brave decision. The editors of The Little Review, an American literary journal that published excerpts of the book, had been tried for obscenity the previous year (effectively banning the book in the US). But Beach was undeterred, writing to her friend Marion Peters:

Dear Marion,

My shop is a great success and self-supporting and all that sort of thing and just think I am publishing a book now. Ulysses by James Joyce, the greatest book and author of the age. . ..! You probably saw in the papers the uproar caused by the trial of the Editors of the Little Review for printing some of Ulysses in it, and how they were fined $100, and their thumb prints taken. Nine stenographers gave up the typing of the last episode here in Paris and a gentleman from the British Embassy burned a dozen pages . . . he threw ’em into the fire in a rage. Ulysses is a masterpiece and one day it will be ranked among the classics in English literature. Joyce is in Paris, and I told him I would publish his book, after the publisher in New York threw up the job in a fright.