Christmas in Belgium

December 20, 2017

Belgium is an ideal destination for a Christmas getaway. You might as well be stepping into the scene on a box of Belgian chocolates, with twinkling lights, beautiful Renaissance buildings, and shop windows full of festive treats.

There are also enchanting Christmas markets in practically every city and town, filled with unique gifts, local delicacies, and more festive charm than you can shake a stick of holly at.

Shop in Brussels’ Christmas Markets 

Belgium’s capital is home to one of the biggest and best Christmas markets in the country, with an unrivalled setting. From late November the city’s stunning Grand-Place hosts a magical Christmas village, which expands out to include the Vismarkt and Place St. Catherine.

Every year, the beautiful Grand-Place turns into a winter wonderland, with an enormous tree, an ice rink, and over 200 wooden chalets with festive stalls. Try the jenever (Flemish gin) or traditional Glühwein to keep warm, and crepes, waffles, and smoutebollen (sweet dumplings) to stave off hunger.  As if that weren’t enough, you’ll also find some of Belgium’s best chocolatiers on and around the famous square.

Meet Sinterklaas in Sint-Niklaas

Like in the Netherlands, Belgian children get two opportunities for presents. As well as Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, another white-bearded man in red visits on 6th December. Sinterklaas also brings presents to good children, but he arrives by boat rather than a sleigh, and his red robes are that of a bishop. Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicolas, was the 4th century bishop of Myra in Turkey, and each year he travels from Spain to visit Belgian and Dutch children.

The best place in Belgium to experience this tradition is the appropriately named Sint-Niklaas just outside Antwerp. There’s a statue of the man himself outside the town hall, and the town’s fine art museum becomes his house for the Christmas period. In the Huis van de Sint, children can meet Sinterklaas in his sitting room and receive small gifts.

See Christmas sparkle in Bruges

All through the year, the streets and buildings of Bruges are magically illuminated after the sun goes down. This becomes even more delightful during the festive season, with twinkling lights and glowing windows creating the perfect Christmassy atmosphere. The picturesque medieval streets come alive with decorations and Christmas markets, made even more magical when reflected in the many canals and waterways.

The main Christmas market is on Grote Markt, that main city square, with the traditional wooden chalets arranged around an ice rink, all watched over by the famous belfry and the many beautiful Renaissance buildings and houses.

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