One of the things which brings me into the ultimate Christmas spirit is going to Christmas markets. Eating a warm waffle, drinking some glühwein, buying some ornaments for your tree and maybe even skating around the ice rink,… nothing more fun than enjoying these pleasures with friends and family. Everybody knows of the most famous ones in London, Paris, Amsterdam, etc. But which Christmas markets are the most beautiful and fun to visit in Belgium?
Every big city has the most wonderful Christmas markets: Londen, Paris, Amsterdam,… These capitals spare effort nor money to draw millions of people to their famous ice rings, light shows, etc. However, we don’t always have to look as far to find amazing markets who get you in the Christmas spirit instantly.
Leuven has both a Christmas market and a Winter village, spread out from the Ladeuze square until the City square. Let the beautiful lighting guide you from the train station, from which it is only a 10 minute walk. You can hang out with Santa in his picturesque little hut and convince him you were nice this year, or if you already gave up on that: stroll around the wooden stalls and grab something hot to drink and eat while you can take a look at the artisanal products such as jewelry, soap,… Great stocking fillers if you ask me!
“Winterland” is Limburg’s biggest Christmas market. The Colonel Dusart square is transformed into an entire village which could make Santa’s original city on the North pole jealous: a big vintage carousel, lots of food stands (both out- and indoors) where you can warm up in this cold weather, lots of little shops and activities for the children lead you towards the ultimate goal: a one-on-one with the one and only Santa Claus! Santa’s House is a faithful replica of the ‘Home of Santa Claus’ in Rovaniemi, Finland so don’t forget to take a picture!
There is something special to an historic town even without decorations, but during the Christmas period it becomes even more magical. Next to the traditional market, Ghent’s historical buildings are also adorned: the Gravensteen turns into a Winter Castle (uhm, hello Winterfell! be sure to check for any living Starks), the Saint-Nicolas church becomes Santa’s home away from home, etc. If you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, time travel back to the roaring 20’s on the vintage Christmas market on the Sint- Veerle square.
If you follow the famous UK lifestyle blogger Zoella, you would have seen her passing by the Christmas market on her trip to Bruges. (If you want to see more, watch her Vlogmas Days 1,2 and 3 here, here and here). The central square is covered in lights and like in Ghent, the old decorated houses add a special and mystical touch.
Our capital pulls out all the stops and combines 2018 technology with traditions to make the 2018 Christmas market more grand than ever. This year, Finland is the honorary guest and this brings with: a big ice skating rink, a bigger ferris wheel (55m high) and the biggest Ice Monster (I’ll leave it up to you to discover the last one). New this year is The Dome, a high- tech dome where performances will be held. This together with the winter scene projections on the houses makes you believe you are in the far North. And although the tree looks a little bald in broad daylight (damn you, global warming), in the evening this big boy looks amazing.
One a bit deeper down the language border but easily accessible by train (10 minute walk approximately) is the “Cœur en Neige 2018”. Inspired by Québec and animation organised in collaboration with its General Delegation in Brussels, you can slide down the Snow slide and visit an original chalet called “La Tour de Noël” on the Main square. In the magical kiosk, you can take your annual selfie with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. What a beautiful Christmas card that must be!
Luik has thé largest Christmas market in Belgium with over 190 timber chalets. This yields them the title of “European Christmas capital 2018”. On the Saint- Lambert square in front of the Palace of the Prince- Bishops you can even find an enormous toboggan run for the first time in Belgium. For only 5 euros, you can slide down until you can not hold those hot beverages and sugared goods down no more. If you really can’t get enough, take a spin on the 30 meters high ferris wheel which looks out over the entire market and beyond.
Also worth a visit, but not as massive as the previous installments is the Christmas market in my hometown Sint-Truiden. From Friday the 14th to Sunday the 16th, the car park around the old town hall makes room for some stalls in which mostly charity shops are settled. If you’d like to have a drink of jenever however, I’d have to disappoint you: no alcoholic drinks will be served this year. Luckily, the cafés with their heated winter terraces around the market provide enough alternatives. If you want to glide a round across the ice rink on the Groenmarkt, you’d best stay sober though. Next to the beautiful decorations, you can also take a bite at the Fondue house above Café De Klok, or eat a pre-feast dinner at De Warmste Tafel (reserve here in advance). On the 26nd of December, the Coke truck also comes to visit and you don’t want to miss this (Polar Express vibes!).
Do you like to go to Christmas markets? Why (not)? Are you considering on visiting one because of this post? Let me know in the comments! Hope you enjoyed reading this post!