Brussels announces measures for expanded Christmas festivities

Brussels announces measures for expanded Christmas festivities
Grand Place during the Christmas festivities. Credit: Plaisirs d'Hiver

Brussels has announced the coronavirus measures for the 20th edition of its annual “Winter Wonders” celebrations, as it cautiously hopes celebrations will go ahead despite the worsening Covid-19 situation.

Although most activities take place in the open air, the city said it would still be implementing some measures, including making face masks mandatory throughout the whole route in the heart of the city, as Covid-19 cases are rising in Belgium.

The Christmas market itself will work with one-way walking systems and the city has said that if overcrowded, the Christmas market and the Grande Place can be closed off.

Meanwhile, anyone aged over 16 who wants to enter the skating rink will have to present a Covid Safe Ticket (CST) to prove they are fully vaccinated, have recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in the past six months.

"The City of Brussels and the organisers are in permanent contact with the competent authorities and closely monitor any decision concerning the health situation," the administration's website stated.

Known attractions and new additions

Between 26 November 2021 and 2 January 2022, all the classic features of the festive period in Brussels will return, including the large Christmas tree lit up on Grand Place and the ice skating rink on the Place De Brouckère, as well as 225 wooden chalets selling Christmas treats.

For the first time, festivities will be extended to the Bois de la Cambre for the anniversary edition. A second ice skating rink, as well as merry-go-rounds, curling and toboggan runs and some monumental light installations, will be set up in the forest from 3 December until 9 January.

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In the city centre, new attractions can be discovered too: an "après-ski" village with a small sledging slope will be set up on Place de la Monnaie, while old attractions, such as the chalets on Rue Henri Maus, will make their comeback. An interactive map will be created, providing visitors with an aerial overview of the attractions.

The main theme of this year's festivities pays homage to trains, as part of the European Year of Railways and the Europalia Trains & Tracks festival. Additional activities and events revolving around trains and travel will feature.

"Our desire to develop more sustainable tourism and to highlight the importance of reorganising rail services throughout Europe and making them accessible," Delphine Houba, councillor for Major Events, said in a press release.

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