Antwerp is famous for its heritage-listed 16th-century Town Hall and a surprising number of Art Nouveau buildings. The city is renowned for fashion, shopping and diamonds. But in winter, Antwerp Christmas Market is the event of the season.
In this guide, I share confirmed dates, locations and opening times for 2023 for the Christmas markets that take place across six squares in Antwerp city centre.
As the year winds down, Antwerp transforms into a winter wonderland, glowing with its festive atmosphere. The scent of cinnamon and mulled wine mingles with the crisp air while a warm spirit pervades its cobbled streets, historic squares and Gothic architecture.
Antwerp Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Antwerp is the largest in Flanders but remains a cosy event with around 90 stalls filled with gifts, decorations, toys and food. Ice skating is always popular, or you can play miniature golf for something different. The Ferris wheel gives incredible views over the historic city centre.
Dates and Location
Antwerp Christmas Market dates: 8th December 2023 to 7th January 2023.
Grote Markt (the main centre square)
Steenplein. Steenplein is not taking place in 2023 but will return next year.
Opening times: 12 noon to 10pm. Closes at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Christmas Day: Open from 12 noon to 10pm.
New Year’s Day: Open from 3pm to midnight.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Ice skating: Yes, at Groenplaats.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended.
Reason to visit: Follow the Christmas lights that lead the way past the historic highlights of Antwerp. Start at Central Station and continue towards Groenplaats and then Grote Markt.
Recommended tour: Highlights Walking Tour – A 2-hour small group tour that covers historic Antwerp.
Specialities: Enjoy coffee, beer or brunch at one of the many heated terraces.
Where to stay: Gulde Schoen is around 250 metres from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Antwerp Christmas Market
The historic centre of Antwerp is located between the River Scheldt and Antwerpen-Centraal. Schipperskwartier to the north and Sint-Andries and Theaterbuurt in the south are the most popular districts. Any of these areas are ideal for a short stay in Antwerp.
I suggest staying at Gulde Schoen as it’s located in the most central of these areas. It’s only 50 metres to Groenplaats and 250 metres to Grote Markt, the locations of the Christmas markets.
Read my guide to hotels near Antwerp Christmas Market for more options on where to stay.
Location of Antwerp Christmas Market
Christmas in Antwerp
Plan your Christmas holiday with my guide to the best Christmas markets in Belgium. Discover where to go, things to do and the best ways to experience Belgium’s food, history and culture.
Christmas Specialties in Antwerp
Speculaas: A traditional Belgian Christmas treat, speculaas are spiced shortcrust biscuits. Their distinctive flavour comes from a blend of spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Sometimes, they’re crafted into festive shapes and are often enjoyed with a hot cup of tea or coffee.
Stoemp: A heartwarming, rustic dish that typically accompanies winter in Belgium is stoemp. It’s a satisfying mash of potatoes and seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, leeks or spinach, often served with a rich gravy. You’ll find vegetarian versions aplenty, making it an excellent comfort food for those chilly December nights.
Witloof in de oven: A unique Belgian specialty, Witloof in de oven, consists of Belgian endives wrapped in ham, coated in a bechamel sauce and sprinkled with cheese. A vegetarian version skips the ham and focuses on the creamy, subtly bitter endives – it’s a hearty dish perfect for a festive meal.
Chocolate Truffles: Antwerp is well known for its exquisite chocolates, and the festive season provides an excellent excuse to indulge. Belgian chocolate truffles, filled with a creamy ganache and dusted with cocoa powder, are a delight to discover under the Christmas tree.
Glühkriek: A festive twist on the famous Belgian cherry beer, glühkriek is warmed and spiced, akin to the glühwein found elsewhere in Europe. It’s a fruity, aromatic alternative for those who want to try something different from the usual festive drinks.
As you celebrate Christmas in Antwerp, I’d encourage you to savour these traditional delights. Each one tells a story of Antwerp’s rich gastronomic heritage and the joy of the festive season.
Food at the Christmas Market
Smoutebollen: A beloved local treat, smoutebollen are similar to doughnuts and a favourite at Belgian fairs and Christmas markets. These deep-fried dough balls, dusted with powdered sugar, provide a sweet, warm indulgence that’s hard to resist in the cold winter air.
Waffles: Not to be missed at any Belgian market are the country’s famous waffles. In Antwerp, you’ll find them hot from the iron with a variety of delicious toppings. The combinations are endless, from simple dustings of icing sugar to lavish spreads of chocolate, strawberries and cream.
Bratwurst: Although not a local specialty, the German bratwurst sausage has found a welcome home in Belgian Christmas markets. Typically served in a bun with mustard or ketchup, it’s a satisfying bite to enjoy while exploring the market’s many stalls.
Oliebollen: Another deep-fried treat, Oliebollen are traditional Dutch and Belgian yeasted dough balls, often containing raisins or currants. Similar to smoutebollen, they’re dusted with powdered sugar and typically enjoyed on festive occasions.
Mulled Wine: Known as glühwein in neighbouring Germany, mulled wine is a universal Christmas market favourite. Its warming blend of red wine, citrus and spices makes it an ideal companion for strolling around the market under the glow of festive lights.
Roasted Chestnuts: Street vendors roasting chestnuts are a common sight and scent at European Christmas markets, and Antwerp is no exception. These seasonal snacks are not only delicious, but their warmth also provides a welcome respite from the winter chill.
As you wander through Antwerp’s Christmas market, savouring these snacks can enhance your experience, each bite offering a delightful taste of local and international festive traditions.
What to Buy
Handcrafted Ornaments: There’s something special about filling your home with ornaments that carry a story. You can find a wide range of unique, handcrafted decorations at the Christmas markets in Antwerp. Artisans from the region often craft these pieces from materials like glass, wood, or clay. They add a touch of Belgian charm to any Christmas tree.
Belgian Lace: Renowned globally for its intricate designs and excellent quality, Belgian lace makes an exquisite gift. You can find it fashioned at the market into beautiful items such as tablecloths, handkerchiefs, and delicate ornaments.
Local Art: The stalls in Antwerp showcase a wealth of creativity from local artists. From prints and paintings of iconic Antwerp landmarks to contemporary artworks, it’s a great opportunity to buy something unique that also supports the local arts community.
Antwerp’s Fashion: Antwerp is known for its fashion industry, and this reflects in the market. You can find a variety of clothing items, from stylish winter accessories like hats and scarves to unique garments by local designers.
Traditional Belgian Sweets: Belgian chocolate needs no introduction, and you’ll find plenty of it at the market. However, don’t overlook other local sweets like speculoos biscuits, cuberdon candies, and marzipan fruits. These make great gifts for the food lovers in your life.
Ceramics: Belgian ceramics, known for their quality and design, can be found among the market stalls. From intricate miniatures to beautifully glazed bowls, mugs and plates, they are functional gifts with a touch of Belgian artistry.
Belgian Beers: With a brewing tradition dating back centuries, Belgium has an impressive array of beers. You can find gift sets of these, often including a branded glass. It’s an ideal pick for those who appreciate fine brews.
Visit Antwerp has information regarding events, sights, things to do and the best ways to experience Antwerp at Christmas.
Sustainable Travel Tips
The choices we make have an environmental and social impact on the places we visit. When visiting the Christmas markets, keeping sustainability in mind is important. Implement some or all of these responsible travel measures during your visit.
- Shop mindfully. Only purchase what you really need.
- Walk, cycle and use public transport to get around.
- Stay in a sustainable hotel powered by renewable energy.
- Stay in hotels. Short-stay apartment accommodation can lead to a lack of affordable housing for locals.
- Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic.
- Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible.
- Limit your consumption of meat and dairy.
- Be open to diverse cultures and experiences.
- Explore more than just the main tourist areas.
- Support the arts and attend local events.
- Visit fewer places but stay longer at each destination.
Antwerp Christmas Market begins on 8th December 2023 to 7th January 2024.
The Antwerp Christmas Market is typically held in the heart of the city. You can find it in Grote Markt, Groenplaats and Suikerrui areas, surrounding the city’s beautiful cathedral. Smaller Christmas markets are located at Operaplein, Hendrik Conscienceplein and Handschoenmarkt. The Steenplein Christmas market will be closed in 2023.
The market usually opens around noon and continues until 10pm. It closes at midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Absolutely. While it can be chilly, the city takes on a magical atmosphere during the winter months. The Christmas Market is a particular highlight, but the city’s museums, art galleries, and shops also provide plenty of indoor activities.
Winter in Antwerp can be quite cold, with temperatures often dropping to around 0 degrees Celsius. It’s also worth noting that it can rain quite frequently, so packing an umbrella or waterproof coat is a good idea.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions about visiting Antwerp during the Christmas period!
If you have visited Antwerp in winter or want to leave a review of the Xmas market, please comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Antwerp, Belgium. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.