When you think of Flemish cities in Belgium with beautiful architecture, picturesque canals and delicious food, you will more than likely think of Bruges. But you might not know that this also perfectly describes Ghent, another of Belgium’s wonderful, historic cities and one you might like to visit this winter.
There are many things to love about the city, and the Ghent Christmas Market is just one of them. In this guide, I share the dates for 2023, opening times, locations and what you can expect from Ghent at Christmas.
With 150 Christmas stalls lining the streets and squares of the historic old town, Ghent has become one of the most festive Christmas destinations in the region.
Ghent Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas markets in Ghent start at Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, home to one of the most popular sights in Ghent, the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, commonly known as the Ghent Altarpiece.
The Christmas market continues along Botermarkt. This small street passes Het Belfort van Gent, the famous 14th-century Belfry and Watchtower.
From here, you can follow the narrow street past Saint Nicholas’ Church for more Christmas stalls with delicious international food and Christmas decorations on sale.
The Christmas market finishes around the corner on Korenmarkt, another market square not far from the incredibly beautiful historic bridges in Ghent, Sint-Michielsbrug and Grasbrug.
What this means is you can experience the city’s wonderful historic sights while experiencing the warm, welcoming and festive Christmas markets.
Dates and Location
Ghent Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 7th to 31st December 2023.
Location: Sint-Baafsplein and surrounding streets.
Opening times: 12 noon to 11pm.
Christmas Day: Likely closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: Likely on the 27th November 2023.
Ice skating: Yes.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended.
Parking: Ghent city centre is a low emission zone. Please walk or take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Ghent is stunning, the market is compact and it’s less touristy than Bruges or Brussels.
Recommended tour: This is the most popular city tour of Ghent.
Specialities: Ghent pralines, Tierenteyn mustard and kroakemandels (fried and salted peas).
Travel tips: Go inside Saint Bavo’s Cathedral at Sint-Baafsplein (the location of the Christmas market) to see the famous Ghent Alterpiece.
Where to stay: 1898 The Post is an absolutely incredible, unique hotel near Korenmarkt in the historic centre.
Hotels near Ghent Christmas Market
The areas around the canal in Ghent Old Town, Saint Bavo’s Cathedral and Korenmarkt are all excellent locations for sightseeing and eating out in Ghent.
I suggest staying at 1898 The Post as it’s a stunning, historic hotel that’s only 3 minutes from the Christmas markets. It’s a sustainable hotel that uses 100% renewable electricity.
If you would prefer to stay somewhere else, these hotels near Ghent Christmas Market are well-located and cover all budgets.
Location of Ghent Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
Taking a city tour of Ghent is a brilliant way to delve into the city’s profound history and culture. This popular city tour of Ghent comes highly recommended as it allows you to experience many of the city’s highlights.
During a city tour, you’ll get the opportunity to take in Ghent’s most renowned landmarks and attractions. These include the historical Saint Bavo’s Cathedral, the stunning Belfry Tower and the picturesque Graslei and Korenlei streets.
Alternatively, you might like to take this combined history and food tour. It’s a unique way to understand the local culture through its cuisine. Food tours are on the rise in popularity, and if the opportunity arises, it’s worth exploring.
Christmas in Ghent
Things to Do in Ghent in Winter
Beyond the Christmas markets, Ghent provides a wealth of activities to enjoy during the winter months. The city centre is highly walkable when the weather plays along, providing the chance to take in its medieval architecture and picturesque canal views.
In the event of inclement weather, you’ll discover a host of indoor attractions brimming with historical and cultural riches.
Ice skating: If you’re a fan of ice skating or simply want to join in the winter fun, the city sets up an ice rink every year. From 7th to 31st December 2023, you can strap on a pair of hired skates and glide across the ice with the beautiful city as your backdrop.
Winter Wonderland Castle: A popular event is the Winter Wonderland Castle, taking place from 9th December until 7th January 2024. Held at the incredible Castle of the Counts, a highlight of Ghent, this event brings together the magic of winter and the grandeur of historic architecture.
Christmas Lights: Ghent further immerses itself in the holiday spirit with beautiful Christmas lights illuminating the city from 27th November 2023 until 8th January 2024. In addition to traditional fairy lights, the city pays homage to its mascot through special fiery dragon installations that light up the city in a captivating display.
Great Butcher’s Hall: For the gastronomically inclined, a visit to the Great Butcher’s Hall is in order. A culinary hotspot in Ghent, the hall presents an array of tantalising local Flemish produce. You can sample delicious treats or take some home as a memento for your visit.
Museums: To wrap up your winter trip in Ghent, consider exploring the city’s museums, historic churches and the notable Belfry. All make for fascinating indoor visits, especially on those colder days, helping you delve into the city’s rich cultural history.
For more destinations worth visiting this winter, my Belgium Christmas market guide could be helpful.
Arriving by Eurostar
If you’re visiting Ghent from the UK via the Eurostar, note that your train ticket includes the local train from Brussels to Ghent St Pieters train station. You can find the train timetable here.
From the train station, get the tram to Korenmarkt. You can ask the information desk if you’re unsure. Otherwise, if the weather is nice, it’s a scenic 30-minute walk to the old town.
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 simple measures to create a positive impact.
- 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.
Ghent Christmas Market dates are from 7th to 31st December 2023.
The Christmas market in Ghent opens at 12 noon.
The Christmas market in Ghent closes at around 11pm.
In 2023, Ghent Christmas Market is located at Sint-Baafsplein and the surrounding streets in the historic city centre.
If you have any questions or comments about visiting the Ghent Xmas market in 2023 or Ghent in winter, please comment below or leave a review if you have been before.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Ghent, Belgium. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.