Belgium has become a haven for those looking for an authentic way to celebrate the festive season, thanks to the famous Christmas markets in Brussels offering yuletide gifts, snacks and entertainments in the heart of the historic city.
The two largest Christmas markets in the city – easily found at the Grand Place and St Catherine’s area, respectively – offer a plethora of attractions and entertainments for visitors of all ages throughout the Christmas period, a far cry from the overly commercialised and sanitised Christmas celebrations found in many cities in the UK and elsewhere.
Belgium may not have invented the Christmas market tradition – that honour belongs to Germany – but this smaller nation has undoubtedly taken the top spot in the minds of travellers from around the world, looking for a city break destination ideal for celebrating the season of goodwill. With fairground attractions including a big wheel and carousels, not to mention skating events held at the city’s ice skating rink, ensuring that 21st century kids will be just as satisfied with the entertainment on offer as older generations.
That’s not to say Brussels’ Christmas markets are all about exerting energy though, as the Brussels Winter Wonderland is packed with cultural attractions to appeal to lovers of the arts too – with a number of free performances and remarkable ice sculptures gracing the streets during the period. The market stalls themselves are a major highlight, of course, and whether you’re looking for home-made decorations, seasonal snacks or mulled wine, Brussels won’t disappoint.
The city hosts around 240 wooden chalets specially constructed for the winter season, where visitors can buy all manner of gifts, and they transform the Belgian capital into a true winter wonderland. The shops open late into the night throughout December – typically 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends – meaning you’ll never feel rushed to get your Christmas shopping in during the day time. Even if you prefer to visit Brussels after spending Christmas at home with the family, the Winter Wonderland festivities take place right through to New Year.
Brussels’ Christmas markets are conveniently located if you’re staying near the city centre, whether at the Hotel Brussels Midi or other popular accommodation, and if you’re staying in Belgium for a longer period, you could also consider taking the trip to nearby Bruges. The markets here may be less impressive in size and scale, but the yuletide atmosphere is still on par with the best Christmas markets in Europe.