The Best Brussels Christmas Markets to Visit in Winter

brussels in winter

This guide covers the best Brussels Christmas markets to visit in 2019. Also, it includes 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 in winter

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.

Does Brussels have a Christmas market

Brussels not only has a Christmas market but in fact, it has several. 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!

If this is not enough to light up your Christmas spirit, hop on a train to Ghent or Bruges for more fairytale markets.

Brussels street decorations

Where are the Brussels Christmas markets

There are 5 Christmas markets in the city centre of Brussels:

  • at the Grand-Place
  • at Marché aux Poissons
  • around la Bourse de Bruxelles
  • at Place Sainte-Catherine
  • at Place de la Monnaie

The main ones are at the Grand-Place and Marché aux Poissons.

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.

brussels xmas market

When does the Brussels Christmas market start

The Winter Wonders festival takes place from 29 November till 5 January (please note that dates for 2019 are yet to be announced). 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.

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.

Radisson Blu Royal Hotel – Best for families
8.6/10 Rating – See hotel images and 2,070+ guest reviews
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 la Monnaie. Rooms are comfy, well lit, and there are three restaurants available on site!


The Dominican – Best for couples
8.9/10 Rating – See hotel images and 1,080+ guest reviews
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.


Chapeliers Grand-Place – Apartments
8.9/10 Rating – See apartment images and 260+ guest reviews
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.


See more places to stay in Brussels.

What are the best Christmas markets in Brussels in 2019

Christmas market 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.

Brussels sound and light show

More Brussels Christmas markets

Marché aux Poissons

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.

Leffe Pavillon

Place de la Monnaie

Place de la Monnaie 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.

Place Sainte-Catherine

Place Sainte-Catherine

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

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.

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

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.

Salmon

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

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

Nougat is a classic Christmas treat. This confection is made from whipped egg white, honey and crunchy almonds.

Jenever

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.

Beer

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

Christmas choirs

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.

Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert

Chocolate 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.

Neuhaus

The best Christmas markets near Brussels

To explore more of the Christmas market scene in Belgium, visit Bruges, Ghent or Antwerp.

However, keep in mind that some markets start a week 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).

Most popular activities

See the iconic Atomium and Mini-Europe with a combo ticket to save money.

Explore the rest of the country by taking a day tour to Bruges or Ghent.

Further reading for your trip

Find more places to see in DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Belgium.

Planning a trip around Europe in the winter? Find out why you should visit the Strasbourg Christmas market (including where to stay and what to see).

If you consider renting a car, compare the car rental prices in Europe.

Have you visited Brussels at Christmas time?
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brussels christmas

brussels christmas market

 
About the author
Avatar Milena Yordanova
I'm a travel blogger based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Travelling has always been my passion and I love to discover new places and cultures. I want to show you how easy it is to organize your vacation all by yourself.

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One Reply to “The Best Brussels Christmas Markets to Visit in Winter”

  1. We spent a wonderful Christmas in Brussels last year, staying at Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo. The location was fantastic – close to the Grand Place and the Central train station. It was a great base to explore the city and to take a day trip to Bruges as well.

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