Brussels Christmas Market 2023
November 24 - December 31
The Brussels Christmas Market is no doubt one of the best in Europe for food and atmosphere. Winter Wonders – as the market is dubbed – runs over two kilometres through the Belgian capital’s historic town centre.
Think cobbled streets and medieval market squares home to snow-dusted market stalls, cosy brasseries, lively pop-up cafés and bars. A covered ice-skating rink, an illuminated Ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds, brass bands, free performances, ice sculptures, a fun Brussels Christmas parade and a magical light and sound show liven it all up. Finally, there is of course also the grandly decorated fir tree.
Probably the biggest highlight of the Brussels Christmas Market are the 250 wooden gingerbread-house-style chalets. Decorated with fairy lights they have everything on offer from arts and crafts to mountains of waffles, mulled wine and the type of hot chocolate that would impress even fussy Hercule Poirot.
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In addition, food lovers will delight in the aromas and flavours of local food delicacies including oysters, salmon cooked on embers, steamed snails, Flemish stew with fries, forest mushrooms, burgers, crepes, and an endless variety of regional beers and genevers – the country’s national gin-based liquor. Needless to say, Belgian chocolates are everywhere.
How to navigate the Brussels Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas Market Brussels expands from the Grand Place all the way to the Place Sainte-Catherine. It includes the streets around La Bourse on the Boulevard Anspach, the Place de Brouckère and the Marché aux Poissons (or Vismet). Because of its size there are more or less four parts:
The Grand Place is the heart of it all. The beautiful Christmas tree stands proudly here and you can enjoy classical Christmas music as well as the light and sound shows.
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Place Sainte-Catherine is home to the vintage merry-go-rounds and the larger food and drink stalls including a Champagne bar. They’re located around the beautiful 15th century Sainte Catherine church. New this year is a special projection mapping on the church’s exterior.
The 55-metre-high Ferris wheel is located nearby at the Marché aux Poissons, as well as a virtual reality attraction called Dream Space, and – unique in Europe – a 45-metre-big Ice Monster with special effects that surely will delight the kids.
Place de Brouckère is where you can find more stalls and fumble on the ice skating rink after a glass of mulled wine. Note that this is a different location for the ice skating rink than last year’s. With its 800 m2, the ice skating rink is bigger than ever before.
Finally, for yet more stalls and cosy cafés, explore the area around La Bourse, the 1868 neo-renaissance former stock exchange. Have a Corsendonk Christmas Ale here in the 1903 Art Nouveau café Falstaff, and enjoy La Féerie, another video mapping attraction projected onto the Grand Casino Brussels Viage building, located 180 metres from La Bourse on the Boulevard Anspach.
While navigating Brussels, don’t let the French-Flemish bilingual street and square names confuse you:
Grande Place = Grote Markt
Place Sainte-Catherine = Sint-Katelijneplein
La Bourse = De Beurs
Boulevard Anspach = Anspachlaan
Place de Brouckère = (De) Brouckèreplein
Marché aux Poissons = Vismarkt (a.k.a. Vismet in local Brussels dialect, to make it even more complicated)
Nearest metro stations: Gare Centrale / Centraal Station; Sainte Catherine / Sint-Katelijne; De Brouckère
Manneken Pis Christmas Party
Special guest at this Winter Wonders edition is Brussels’ most famous resident Manneken Pis, the 55-centimetre statue of a peeing boy and the city’s ultimate symbol. To celebrate his respectable age, local DJ Daddy K will get people moving their feet with his hip hop and RnB tunes from the balcony of the City Hall on the Grand Place.
Other notable Christmas markets in Belgium apart from the Brussels Christmas Markets
Almost every city and town in Belgium has a Christmas market and Belgians like them cosy and traditional. Because travel distances are short here, it’s easy to visit one more if you have an extra day to spare:
One of Belgium’s cosiest Christmas markets is the one in the old student town of Leuven. Head to the Sint-Donatuspark and Ladeuzeplein.
For the romantics, visit the Christmas markets of the medieval towns of Bruges and Ghent.
Liège is home to the country’s oldest Christmas market. Here you’ll find an entire Christmas village with emphasis on gourmet food in warm tents. Brass bands, traditional choruses and folk dance groups animate the town.
If you need to inject some action in your Christmas market, the one in the city of Hasselt features amusement parks, a rollercoaster and a Christmas haunted house – amongst other things.
For beach lovers in winter, head to the coastal town of Ostend. Have a spin on the indoor Christmas-decorated ice rink – at thousand square metres Belgium’s biggest.
Another big one is in the port city of Antwerp where the Antwerp Christmas Market breathes its festivities all over town. Head from the Meir to the Groenplaats and the nearby Grote Markt, Handschoenmarkt and Steenplein.
Finally, if you’d like a quirky Christmas, visit the caves of Wonck in the province of Liège. A bus will take you up to the 2000-year-old Grottes de Wonck inside which you’ll find an artisan Christmas market. Local produce is on offer here, from handicrafts to plenty of food such as sautéed mushrooms (which are cultivated inside the caves), oysters with champagne, cured meats, cheeses, wines and sweets.
Brussels Christmas Market 2023 dates
This season the market will open on 24 November 2023 with a magical parade. The Christmas market in Brussels will last until 31 December.
How to get to the Brussels Christmas Market
From London, the easiest way is by Eurostar from St. Pancras which will take you into Gare Centrale (Brussels Central Station) via Gare Midi (Brussels South Station) in just over two hours. From there it’s just a short walk to the Grand Place.
If you come by plane, there’s a direct train link between Brussels Airport and Gare Centrale. There are also train connections to Brussels Gare Centrale from most major European cities.
Click here for train travel connections to Brussels.
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More information about the Brussels Christmas Market
The Brussels Christmas Market is open from noon to 10pm every day except on 24 and 31 December when it closes at 6pm. For detailed opening times, site maps and all events details, visit the Winter Wonders official website or its official Facebook page.
Cover image © Eric Danhier
- Different squares and streets including the Grand Place