Belgian’s historic cities are ideal for warm and inviting Christmas markets. Christmas vibes abound as you wander around the cobblestone streets and squares.
Cinnamon, star anise, cloves and red wine combine to form the most classic Christmas beverages. When you’re hit with the scent of gluhwein, you know you’ve arrived at the Christmas markets in Belgium.
In this guide, I share the best Belgium Christmas Market and list the best places to visit in 2023.
Belgium Christmas Market 2023
While it’s true that Brussels is home to the largest and most well-known Belgian Christmas market, every city has a market with their own traditions and specialties.
If you’re visiting Belgium this winter, try adding a stop to experience somewhere new, maybe choose a less visited city or spend time in a small town.
Brussels Christmas Markets – In the heart of Brussels, you’ll discover one of the world’s most stunning squares, aptly named the Grand Place. This enchanting location serves as the primary setting for the city’s main Christmas market. This delightful winter affair commences annually in late November, transforming the square into a festive wonderland.
As you explore Brussels during the Christmas season, be sure not to miss the breathtaking light displays and captivating artwork featured throughout the city in a festive event called “Brussels by Lights.” This extraordinary celebration showcases the talents of local artists and designers as they illuminate the city with their creative works.
In addition to the vibrant artwork, you’ll find 142 streets and shopping districts adorned with twinkling lights, creating an unforgettable holiday atmosphere. This dazzling display of festive cheer makes Brussels one of Europe’s most enchanting Christmas destinations.
Get more information on Christmas market dates, times and things to see Brussels Christmas Market guide, updated for 2023.
If you would like to stay in a central location, book one of my recommended hotels near Brussels Christmas Market.
Bruges Christmas Market – Renowned for its stunning beauty, Bruges holds its place as one of the most picturesque small cities in Europe. This enchanting Belgian destination draws a multitude of visitors each year, coming in second only to the capital, Brussels, in terms of tourist popularity.
As you explore this magnificent historic city, you’ll be captivated by its incredible Hanseatic architecture, the iconic Rozenhoedkaai, the bustling Market Square, the serene canals, and the delightful Bruges Christmas Market.
In Bruges, the winter season is celebrated with a charming festival called Winter Glow. As an integral part of this magical experience, the Christmas markets in Bruges offer visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the city’s festive spirit.
Discover an array of unique gifts, indulge in delectable seasonal treats, and revel in the warm, welcoming atmosphere that defines Bruges during the holiday season.
Ghent Christmas Market – When imagining captivating Flemish cities in Belgium, complete with stunning architecture, idyllic canals, and mouthwatering cuisine, it’s likely that Bruges comes to mind.
However, there’s another equally enchanting and historic city in Belgium that you might want to consider visiting this winter – Ghent. Boasting a rich history and incredible sights, Ghent offers a delightful alternative to the more well-known Bruges.
During the festive season, the streets and squares of Ghent’s historic old town come alive with the spirit of Christmas.
With over 150 charming stalls spread throughout the city, Ghent has firmly established itself as one of the most delightful Christmas destinations in the region.
As you wander through the cobblestone streets, you’ll discover unique gifts, indulge in seasonal treats, and immerse yourself in the warm, welcoming atmosphere that defines this beautiful Belgian city during the holidays.
Ghent’s Christmas market starts later in the year, starting on 7th December 2023.
For full details, read my Ghent Christmas market guide that includes dates, opening times and locations for festive Advent markets in Ghent.
Book one of my recommended hotels near Ghent Christmas Market to be conveniently located during your stay.
Antwerp Christmas Market – As the largest Christmas market in Flanders, Antwerp’s festive event still manages to retain a warm and cosy atmosphere.
With approximately 90 stalls brimming with delightful gifts, enchanting decorations, entertaining toys, and scrumptious food, the market offers a memorable holiday experience.
For those seeking some winter fun, ice skating is a popular choice. Alternatively, you can try your hand at miniature golf for a unique and entertaining twist.
The Ferris wheel, a prominent feature of the market, provides spectacular views of the historic city centre from above.
Antwerp has a rich architectural heritage, including its iconic 16th-century Town Hall and an impressive collection of Art Nouveau buildings.
The city is also renowned for its thriving fashion scene, exceptional shopping opportunities, and dazzling diamond trade.
However, during winter, the Antwerp Christmas Market takes centre stage as the event of the season, offering visitors an unforgettable holiday experience in this charming Belgian city.
For details on Antwerp Christmas Market and the locations of each market, read my full guide.
Leuven Christmas Market – Winter Season in Leuven is a delightful series of events showcasing the best Christmas and winter traditions, including the enchanting Leuven Christmas Market.
The festive season in Leuven is brimming with a variety of activities, such as Christmas concerts that fill the air with melodious tunes, the mesmerizing Light Festival that illuminates the city in a magical glow, and the mouthwatering Food Truck Festival offering a delectable assortment of culinary delights.
The fairytale-like Winter Garden on Grote Markt is just one aspect of the city’s festive ambience. As you explore further, you’ll discover specialty stores and an enticing array of food trucks lining the streets of Ladeuzeplein and Hooverplein.
These charming locations are only a short walk away from Grote Markt and the iconic Town Hall, making it easy to immerse yourself in the full Leuven holiday experience.
Get all the details and dates for Leuven Christmas Market in my guide, updated for 2023.
Best Christmas Markets in Belgium
While those listed are my recommendations for the 5 best Christmas markets in Belgium, the country has much more to offer during the festive season beyond those already mentioned.
For more Christmas travel inspiration for 2023, this guide to the best Christmas markets in Europe can help you decide where to go. Get an overview of each destination, local specialties, dates and locations.
Immerse yourself in the country’s rich history, fascinating customs, and delectable cuisine by exploring these additional Christmas markets in Belgium:
Liège Christmas Market: As one of the oldest and largest Christmas markets in Belgium, Liège offers a festive atmosphere with over 200 stalls, a Ferris wheel, and an ice rink.
Hasselt Winterland: This charming Christmas market in Hasselt features an ice rink, a Christmas train, and numerous stalls selling unique gifts and treats.
Namur Christmas Market: The historic city of Namur hosts a delightful Christmas market in its main square, complete with an ice rink, Ferris wheel, and a wide selection of food and drink options.
Mons Christmas Market: Experience the festive spirit in the picturesque city of Mons, where you’ll find a cozy Christmas market offering artisanal crafts, delicious food, and entertaining activities for the whole family.
Ostend Christmas Market: Located on the Belgian coast, Ostend’s Christmas market offers a unique coastal experience. Enjoy ice skating, indulge in local cuisine, and explore the festive stalls.
Take the time to visit one or more of these enchanting Christmas markets while you’re in Belgium and fully experience the magic of the holiday season in this beautiful country.
Sustainable Christmas Travel in Belgium
Belgium is a beautiful destination to visit during the Christmas season. To make your trip more eco-friendly and responsible, consider implementing the following sustainable travel practices:
- Shop mindfully: When visiting Christmas markets and local shops in Belgium, only purchase items you truly need or that have a meaningful connection to your trip. Opt for locally made, eco-friendly, and artisanal products that support the local economy.
- Opt for sustainable transportation: Explore Belgium by walking, cycling, or using public transport such as trams, buses, and trains. This reduces your carbon footprint and allows you to experience the local culture and scenery better.
- Stay in eco-friendly accommodations: Choose sustainable hotels or guesthouses that prioritize environmentally friendly practices, such as using renewable energy, recycling, or supporting local conservation efforts.
- Reduce plastic use: Avoid single-use plastic items and reusable or biodegradable alternatives. Also, consider purchasing minimally packaged items made from sustainable materials.
- Savour local, organic cuisine: Indulge in Belgium’s delicious local food while prioritizing organic, locally sourced ingredients. This supports local farmers and reduces the environmental impact of your meals.
- Limit meat and dairy consumption: Opt for plant-based dishes or those with lower meat and dairy content, as these choices typically have a smaller environmental footprint.
- Embrace cultural diversity: Be open to new experiences and customs, and engage with locals to better understand Belgium’s unique culture and history.
- Explore beyond tourist hotspots: Venture outside the main tourist areas to discover lesser-known gems and support local businesses and communities that may not typically benefit from tourism.
- Support the arts and local events: Attend concerts, theatre performances, and other cultural events during your stay. This enriches your travel experience and supports the local arts scene.
- Consider alternative modes of travel: If possible, avoid flying to Belgium and explore more eco-friendly options such as trains or carpooling to reduce your overall carbon emissions.
By implementing these sustainable travel tips during your Christmas trip to Belgium, you can positively impact the environment and local communities while enjoying a memorable holiday experience.
Brussels and Bruges’ Christmas markets start on 24th November 2023. Markets in other Belgian cities often start later in the season, from the 7th or 8th of December.
It’s almost impossible to pick the best Christmas market in Belgium, but I would have to say the capital Brussels for its location in Grand Place, the most stunning square in the world.
The Christmas markets will be opening in November and December around the country, with some markets continuing into January 2024.
Winter in Belgium can be quite cold, with temperatures ranging from 0°C to 6°C (32°F to 43°F). Snow is possible but not very common. Be prepared for rain, and dress in layers to stay warm and dry.
Yes, Christmas markets are a beloved tradition in Belgium, with numerous cities hosting festive markets that feature food, drink, gifts, and entertainment. Some of the most popular markets can be found in Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp, and Leuven.
Some popular Belgian treats to try at Christmas markets include Belgian waffles, chocolate, speculoos cookies, oliebollen (deep-fried dough balls), and glühwein (mulled wine).
Belgium has an efficient and extensive public transportation system, including trains, trams, and buses, which make it easy to travel between cities. Alternatively, you can rent a car or join an organised tour.
In addition to visiting Christmas markets, you can enjoy activities like ice skating, attending cultural events and concerts, exploring historic sites, and indulging in local cuisine. Some cities also host light festivals or other winter-themed events.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.