Whether you like your Christmas markets big or small, traditional or original, you’ll find your favourite festive stop in Belgium. Stroll through magnificent streets illuminated by fairy lights and the warming glow of market stalls as the scent of freshly-sugared treats fills the air. Attracting a huge number of vendors from all over the world, these markets combine local gifts with international goods, making them the perfect place to stock up for your Christmas festivities. Here’s our pick of the best Christmas markets in Belgium.
Bruges Christmas Market
With houses so sweet they could be made of gingerbread, the fairytale town of Bruges is a magical setting for a traditional Christmas fare. Hunt for treats at the Bruges Christmas market on the medieval Market Square, before taking in the Christmas lights from the top of the beautiful 12th-century belfry . Vendors lay out everything needed for a festive celebration, including traditional gifts for all the family and a warming mug of glühwein (mulled wine).
Brussels Christmas Market
The car-free centre of Brussels is transformed each December into a fantastic collection of Christmas markets called Winter Wonders. Take a leisurely stroll down the 2km stretch of vibrant streets, browsing goods beneath brightly lit facades and a towering ferris wheel. Brussels Christmas Market boasts an astonishing variety of gifts available from well over 200 different stalls, so you’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for and more besides.
Ghent Christmas Market
This cosy market sets up shop in front of the stunning gothic architecture of St Bavo’s Cathedral in the heart of Ghent . The 40 stalls are run by sellers from all over the world, offering a diverse range of gifts and goods. Sample a huge variety of different delicacies before stocking up on traditional Belgian chocolates and cookies.
Leuven Christmas Market
For the last 28 years the centre of Leuven has spread the festive spirit with this 10-day Christmas market. Join the tradition of grabbing a fresh baked beignet (a sweet fried choux pastry) before strolling down among the 140 white stalls selling every gift and local dainty your heart could desire. Santa even makes an appearance in his cosy cottage in the woods.
Antwerp Christmas Market
From mini golf in the adjacent forest to photo booths dotted around the borders, the Antwerp Christmas Market adds something new to their festivities every year, ensuring that no two markets are ever the same. The mainstays of the charade will always remain though – the fantastic stalls run by designers, charities and local foodies selling original gifts for the whole family.
If you’ve been inspired to plan your very own Belgian adventure, check out our Hull to Zeebrugge crossing.
Feature image by Miguel Discart