A festive guide to Christmas markets in Belgium and beyond

What better way to celebrate the festive season than to sip on some steaming mulled wine at one of the famed Christmas markets in Belgium or on its borders?

A festive guide to Christmas markets in Belgium and beyond
Credit: Visit Bruges / Stad Gent - Dienst Toerisme

With Christmas fast approaching, what better way to prepare for the festive season than to sip on some steaming mulled wine or hot chocolate at one of Belgium's many famous Christmas markets?

The Brussels Times has done its (Christmas) market research and prepared a list of the best in Belgium, with a few extras for those who want to venture further afield.


Heralded as the best Christmas market in the world in 2022, Winter Wonders ('Plaisirs d'Hiver') officially opened in Brussels last Friday, transforming several squares into cosy Christmas villages.

Credit: Plaisirs d'Hiver

Winter Wonders certainly has something for everyone: the beloved Ferris wheel, the Grand Place and its Christmas tree, light shows, and a life-size nativity scene. Not enough? Then head to Place De Brouckère's ice rinks or Sainte Catharine's wooden chalets for mulled wine and tartiflette.

Open from Friday 24 November to Sunday 31 December, every day from 12:00 to 22:00. Find more information here.


The historic port city of Antwerp holds an annual Christmas market which is integral to its wider 'Winter in Antwerp' festival, featuring concerts with gospel choirs and classical musicians.

This year, there will be 100 stalls adorned with festive Christmas lights and music, stretching from Groenplaats to the Market Square (and including Hendrik Conscienceplein and Operaplein this year).

Credit: Visit Antwerp / Facebook

It is also the place to do your Christmas shopping – local designers and traders sell unique arts and crafts, knitted accessories, toys and Christmas snacks. Aside from gifts, there is mulled wine, children's storytelling sessions, an ice skating rink and miniature golf course on offer too, as well as a cosy bar complete with a fireplace and mistletoe.

A ferris wheel will adorn the Koningin Astridplein and professional figure skater Kevin Van Der Perren will perform the inaugural show on the ice rink. Visitors can watch the end-of-year fireworks display at Steenplein, on the renovated Scheldt Quays, or at Galgenweel on Linkeroever (Left Bank).

Open from Friday 8 December to Sunday 7 January. Find more information here.


In its 36th edition this year, Liège claims to be home to the oldest Christmas market in Belgium and attracts two million visitors every year. With over 200 stalls which weave through the city’s streets and alleyways, this is certainly not one to miss.

Credit: Visitez Liège

There will be a vast selection of drinks available and oysters, foie gras, black pudding and marzipan. More activities are added each year, including photo booths, a ferris wheel, sledging, ice skating and the European Circus Festival.

Open from Friday 24 November to Sunday 7 January. Find more information here.


Once dubbed the ugliest city in the world, the city is being revitalised for the future, and its smaller-scale Christmas market is the perfect opportunity to visit.

While there will be the usual assortment of stalls selling mulled wine, champagne, waffles, crêpes, oysters, and hand-crafted gifts, there will also be a central chalet with a bar area, traditional winter restaurant and neon-themed disco parties every Friday.

Credit: Le Village de Noël

The festive village is spread across two squares: Place de la Digue, with artisan huts, and Place Verte, with a covered ice rink. A new addition this year is the 18-metre-high luminous pyramid, set to serve as a landmark. Another significant change includes covering the ice rink to reduce energy consumption.

Open from Friday 24 November to Sunday 7 January. Find more information here.


For six weeks each year, the romantic, medieval city of Bruges embodies Christmas spirit with its Winter Glow ('Wintergloed') festival, offering visitors the chance to experience it at its most beautiful.

The heart of the action is at the Grote Markt, where charming wooden chalets sell unique gifts and hand-blown glass ornaments, as well as hot chocolate, mulled wine, Belgian beers, local jenever gin, and yule logs, crêpes and waffles.

Credit: Visit Bruges

With the 'Aurora' light trail illuminating the historic centre with the colours of the Northern Lights, ice skating on the 'Lake of Love', a winter bar, and two markets, Bruges is the perfect day out for all the family (St. Nicholas even pays children a visit on the last Sunday of November!).

Open from Friday 24 November to Sunday 7 January. Find more information here.

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Ghent's equally enchanting squares and medieval architecture also make it a wonderful place to get into the holiday spirit. The market will extend from Sint-Baafsplein to Sint-Veerleplein and has over 150 wooden huts with everything from cured meats and waffles to Belgian beer and trinkets.

Credit: Stad Gent - Dienst Toerisme

The historic centre turned winter wonderland is also equipped with a huge ferris wheel and an ice skating rink. Parents can soak up the atmosphere at the Moose Bar while children are kept occupied with various rides, including a vintage merry-go-round.

Open from Thursday 7 to Sunday 31 December. Find more information here.


Hasselt's Christmas market at the Kolonel Dusartplein forms part of the larger Winterland Festival. Limburg's capital city offers a wide range of activities including ice skating, a giant slide, a Christmas train, Santa's House (a replica of Santa's home in Rovaniemi, Finland) and Ghost House.

Credit: Winterland

Wander past Winterland's 100 or so international vendors selling artisan trinkets and crafts, while snacking on Spanish churros, German Bratwurst, Finnish Flammlachs, Swiss Raclette, Liège waffles and Belgian fries. Stop for a drink at the charming Grand Café chalet and adjoining Aspen Lounge, where you can party until the early hours on New Year's Eve.

Open from Friday 17 November to Sunday 7 January. Find more information here.

Further afield

If you have exhausted all the Christmas markets in Belgium, why not hop across the border to Belgium's neighbouring, world-renowned festive villages? We recommend Aachen and Cologne (Germany) and Lille (France), but the bustling capitals of Paris and London are also just a train/bus ride away.


Just past Liège is the small German town of Aachen (confusingly, Aix-la-Chapelle in French, Aken in Dutch, and Aquisgrán in Spanish!), which boasts an exceptional annual market and a great day trip from Belgium. For breakfast, pop to Pausenbrot for a mouth-watering cinnamon roll (but get there early to avoid the queues!).

Then head to the main square next to the cathedral, where the delicious scent of Aachener Printen (a local delicacy, somewhat similar to gingerbread), cinnamon stars, marzipan, and chestnuts lingers in the air.

Credit: Isabella Vivian / The Brussels Times

In this year's 50th edition, there will be over 120 vendors offering Christmas decorations, candles, festive music and artisan crafts. The stunning interior of the cathedral is also work a look.

Open from Sunday 26 November to Saturday 23 December. Find more information here.


Less than a 40-minute train ride away from Aachen is the 2,000-year-old city and landmark of Gothic architecture, Cologne.

Illuminated with festive lighting and home to several markets and other activities, Christmas in Cologne is not one to miss. The Glühwein, Kartoffelpuffer and Bratwurst are unbeatable at these authentic markets.

Credit: Isabella Vivian / The Brussels Times

Stalls offer a variety of handcrafted gifts, festive delicacies and traditional Christmas decorations. Adults can shop to their hearts' content while children enjoy the carousels and huge ice skating rinks and experience the Christmas season in all its glory.

Open from Wednesday 29 November to Saturday 23 December. Find more information here.


Sitting on the French border, Lille's Christmas market provides another picturesque day trip. The twinkling market on Place Rihour in the heart of Lille has 90 chalets offering artisan gifts and beautiful Christmas decorations.

Wander through the frosty cobbled streets filled with the enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and pungent French cheese, and admire the colourful 17th-century Flemish façades.

Credit: Thierry Loustouret / Facebook

There are also pony rides for children and Friday night concerts. Visitors can also get a bird's eye view of the giant Christmas tree from the top of the Ferris wheel. Don't leave without tasting the famous filled waffles (gaufres fourrées) at Meert.

Open from Wednesday 22 November to Sunday 31 December. Find more information here.

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