This guide covers the best Brussels Christmas markets to visit in 2020 (including a map, opening times and locations of the markets, plus where to stay for the best experience). In addition, you’ll find out where to see the sound and light show, the parade and where to go ice skating.
Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is charming in December. The city has a unique atmosphere that engulfs you into the magical world of Christmas. Festively decorated squares, ice rinks, Ferris wheels, light shows – all your wishes for a fairytale holiday come true! Not to mention that the city is home to the biggest Christmas market in Belgium.
Where are the Brussels Christmas markets
Brussels has several Christmas markets. The main ones are at the Grand-Place and Marché aux Poissons.
More than 250 wooden stalls are spread out over the entire capital, giving the city a gorgeous festive look. And if you need more reasons to visit the city in the winter – there is a light show and a parade!
The best Brussels Christmas markets in 2020 are at:
- Marché aux Poissons
- around la Bourse de Bruxelles
- Place Sainte-Catherine
- Place de la Monnaie
In fact, the Brussels Christmas markets are part of one bigger event called the Winter Wonders. The Winter wonders also include the parade and the sound and light show on the Grand-Place.
If this is not enough to light up your Christmas spirit, hop on a train to Ghent or Bruges for more fairytale markets.
When does the Brussels Christmas market start
The Winter Wonders festival takes place from 27 November till 3 January. The Christmas villages are open daily from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM. On 24 December and 31 December, they close a little earlier – at 06:00 PM.
Brussels Christmas markets dates 2020
From 27 November to 3 January
Every day from 12:00 PM to 10:00 PM
December 24 and December 31 – till 06:00 PM
Where to stay in Brussels for Christmas markets
If you’re visiting the city in the winter, it’s important to choose a good location. December is cold, so it’s best to be as close to the tourist attractions and restaurants as possible.
The Historic Centre is a great choice, as all the Christmas villages are there. Also, you’d be within reach to restaurants, shops and the major tourist sights. You can easily explore the city on foot.
The longest distance between the farthest markets is less than 700m. Thus, choose an accommodation between the Grand-Place and Place Sainte-Catherine. Check out these handpicked hotels, that are right in the middle of everything.
For more information, check out my guide to where to stay in Brussels.
The Dominican is a great hotel for couples. The hotel is within a walking distance to the markets and Rue Neuve shopping area. Rooms are modern with extra touches like bathrobes, slippers and tea making facilities. The Dominican features a lovely cocktail lounge with a chill atmosphere.
Why book – spacious rooms, great cocktail lounge, close to the shopping area
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel with its central location is a perfect choice for families. The hotel is less than 500m away both from Grand-Place and Place Sainte-Catherine. Moreover, it’s close to the ice skating rink at Place de Brouckère. Rooms are comfy, well lit, and there are three restaurants available on site!
Why book – comfy rooms with coffee and tea facilities, babysitting and child services, 3 restaurants on-site
If you prefer an apartment, this is a perfect choice. The apartments are only 50m away from the Grand-Place. The area is lovely with many restaurants and within a walking distance from the Central train station.
Why book – next to Grand Place, well-equipped apartments with soundproof windows
Which is the best Christmas market in Brussels in 2020
Christmas market at the Grand-Place
If you have to choose one Christmas market to visit, go to the Grand-Place. It’s the heart of the Winter Wonders Festival.
This is where the gigantic Christmas tree and nativity scene are set up. There are even stalls with sheep and donkeys!
But the best part is the spectacular sound and light show. It takes place every half hour and continues about 10-15 minutes. During the show, the facades of the historical builds are lit up with gorgeous changing colours.
More Brussels Christmas markets
Marché aux Poissons
The biggest Christmas market in Brussels takes place at Marché aux Poissons. The square is covered with more than 200 wooden huts decorated with twinkling lights and snow roofs. The chalets sell all kinds of gifts, Christmas ornaments and of course delicious food.
Yet, the biggest attraction here is the Ferris wheel. The cabins ascend up to 55 m – the perfect way to see the festively decorated city from above.
Don’t miss the Leffe Pavillon, too! You can not only savour the different varieties of this beer but learn about its origins and brewing process.
Place de la Monnaie
Place de la Monnaie hosts the Dome. It’s a 360° high-tech installation that stages various shows, including a Saint-Nicolas party! You can watch art-house movies, as well as documentaries and funny cartoons.
This charming Christmas market is located around the beautiful Sainte-Catherine Church. Every year the market features different country, presenting its culture and gastronomy.
Vintage roundabouts add to the fairy tale atmosphere.
La Bourse de Bruxelles
It’s a small Christmas village set up in front of the former stock exchange building. The 19th-century neo-renaissance building is festively illuminated by hundreds of lights.
Ice skating at Place de Brouckère
Place de Brouckère is where you go for ice skating and mulled wine. To avoid crowds go on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 AM to 5 PM. The price is €8 for adults and €5 for children. Plus, there is a separate area for skating for the little ones.
When is the Brussels Christmas parade
The magical parade is every Saturday evening in December from 6 PM to 8 PM. It takes place throughout the city centre passing by the Grand-Place, la Bourse and Marché aux Poissons.
Brussels Christmas market food
You can find all kind of treats and delicious foods at the Christmas markets stalls. Gingerbread, meringue, waffles, baked salmon, Flemish stew – there is something for every taste! Yet, don’t miss to try these 5 local foods that are typical for the markets in Belgium.
Seafood is very popular in Belgium, due to the country’s closeness to the North Sea. So oysters, mussels, salmon are something you can easily find at every market. And while the oysters are not for every taste, don’t miss to try the salmon. It is usually cooked on a campfire and it’s very delicious!
Waffles are one of the foods that Belgium is known for. There are two variations – Brussels waffle and Liège waffle. I prefer the last one, as it’s more crunchy, because of the crystallized sugar baked into it. You can have your waffle with various toppings like chocolate, cream, fruits and many more.
Nougat is a classic Christmas treat. This confection is made from whipped egg white, honey and crunchy almonds.
Mulled wine is not popular in Belgium. The typical Christmas drink of the Belgians is jenever. This is Dutch gin, a grain-based drink with a high alcohol percentage. It is usually served cold in small glasses.
Although it’s cold, beer is still the preferred drink of the Belgians. There are special beer halls that offer a wide variety of beers. So you can enjoy your favourite beer in a warmer place.
Don’t miss to visit Leffe Pavillon at Marché aux Poissons.
What to do in Brussels at Christmas
To enjoy some Christmas carols and gospels, visit the Black Tower, behind St. Catherine’s Church. The event is part of Winter Wonders festival and takes place Saturdays and Sundays from 2 PM to 6 PM.
Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert
Visit the most famous shopping gallery in the city, Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert. During Christmas time, the gallery is beautifully decorated with golden balls and sparkling lights. It’s the perfect place for high-end shopping.
You haven’t been to Brussels if you haven’t tried the chocolate. Belgian chocolate is one of the finest in the world. And it makes a great gift! For a quality chocolate visit Neuhaus and Pierre Marcolini.
How to get to Brussels Christmas market
The Central train station is less than a 5min walk from the main market at Grand Place. However, if you’re arriving at the Brussels Midi train station, it’s about 2km to the city centre.
The nearest airport is Zaventem Airport (BRU). There is a direct train that connects the airport and the Central train station.
If you’re arriving at Charleroi Airport (CRL), the best option is to take the shuttle bus.
Brussels Christmas market map
To help you navigate, I prepared a detailed map with all the markets. You can use it during your trip, you only need internet access.
The best Christmas markets near Brussels
To explore more of the Christmas market scene in Belgium, visit Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp. If you’re short on time take an organized day tour to Bruges and Ghent. In this way, you’ll be able to visit both cities in only one day!
However, keep in mind that some markets start 1-2 weeks later than the one in Brussels. For example – in Ghent and Antwerp. So plan your trip accordingly.
If you have to choose one city, go with Bruges. It’s a ravishing medieval city and it’s gorgeous even in the winter.
Brussels or Bruges Christmas market
Although Bruges is a much more picturesque city, Brussels wins the Christmas market competition. And not only because it has the biggest market in the country. Its winter festival “Winter Wonders” includes a sound and light show and a festive parade! And the light show is really something not to be missed.
The best option is to sleep in Brussels and take a day trip to Bruges (1-hour journey by train).