Holidays & Celebrations

The best Christmas markets in Belgium in 2023

Get ready to sip on Glühwein and lap up the cozy atmosphere as Belgium’s best Christmas markets arrive this festive season.

Belgium Christmas markets

By Sophie Pettit

Updated 22-1-2024

Germany isn’t the only European country that’s mad about Christmas markets. Once the festive season arrives, Belgium’s biggest cities transform into enchanting winter wonderlands filled with fairground rides, carol singers, and of course, traditional wooden huts selling all kinds of goodies.

Whether you want to shop and sip on Glühwein, jump on heart-pounding funfair rides, or simply lap up the majestic atmosphere, these spectacular Christmas markets are sure to get you in the festive spirit. So without further ado, here are some of the biggest and best that Belgium has to offer.

Winter Wonders, Brussels

Once hailed as ‘Europe’s most original Christmas market’ by British tour operators, Winter Wonders is also the most famous in Belgium.

Known locally as Plaisirs d’Hiver (‘Winter Fun’ in French), the impressive market features a large ice-skating rink, numerous fairground rides, and a spectacular sound and light show that sees colorful projections illuminate the facade of the Grand Place.

Winter Wonders in Brussels

Each year, more than three million visitors descend upon Belgium’s capital to lap up the festive atmosphere and browse more than 250 wooden stalls scattered across the city center.

Visitors can shop for all kinds of beautiful gifts along the 2.5 km-long route while indulging in an array of traditional festive bites. They can also enjoy fantastic views of the city by hopping on the giant Ferris wheel at Place Sainte-Catherine.

There are some exciting new attractions in store for market-goers this year too, including a Secret Garden, magic swings, and an intriguing tribute to the Brussels-born artist, René Magritte.

24 November – 31 December 2023

Le Village de Noël, Liège

For more than 30 years, Liège has hosted a magnificent Village de Noël (Christmas Village) which brings the long German tradition of festive markets to the city.

Each year, around two million visitors come to marvel at the illuminated monuments around the Saint Paul Cathedral and shop at more than 200 stalls selling decorations, gifts, and food. Meanwhile, choirs singers, music groups, and folk dancers entertain the crowds at the podium.

Liège Christmas market

Market highlights include a 30-meter-high Ferris wheel, a giant ice rink, and an exciting sledding run for kids – and big kids.

Foodies, meanwhile, will no doubt enjoy sampling all kinds of delicious bites, including baked camembert, marzipan, and black pudding, at the various gourmet stalls.

Given that the city is the birthplace of the Liège waffle, Galler chocolate, and pèket (the Belgian version of gin), you will find plenty of these gems, too.

25 November – 30 December 2023 (ice rink open until 7 January 2024)

Winter in Antwerp

With atmospheric light displays on show and the sound of choir singing and classical music filling the air, the historic city center of Antwerp is the place to be come Christmas time.

It is also the perfect spot to pick up some beautiful gifts as more than a hundred stalls selling all sorts of goodies set up shop in the bustling Christmas market in Operaplein and Hendrik Conscienceplein.

Antwerp Christmas market

Notably, every Sunday in December is Shopping Sunday in Antwerp, where a large selection of stores are open, giving you more time to hunt for presents.

However, if you are simply looking to soak up the festive atmosphere, you can watch a range of Christmas concerts throughout the season which culminate in an epic New Year’s Eve firework display on the Scheldt.

Little ones, meanwhile, can enjoy a spin on the ice skating rink or hop on the nearby Ferris wheel to lap up fantastic views of the city down below.

8 December 2023 – 7 January 2024

Winter Glow, Bruges

The beautiful medieval city of Bruges is picturesque at any time of year. However, it is particularly breathtaking during Winter Glow, when the old cobblestone streets of the historic center come to life with thousands of twinkling lights.

Visitors can enjoy an array of magical experiences during the festive season. This includes a new Light Experience Trail which sees a series of eight installations illuminate the city as darkness falls.

Bruges Christmas Market

They can also go ice skating at an outdoor rink, sip on Glühwein at the cozy Vorst Winter Bar, and of course, shop for gifts at the city’s two Christmas markets.

Located in the Grote Markt and Simon Stevinplein, these sell a variety of handmade gifts as well as traditional festive food and drink. Needless to say, they are the ideal places to indulge in the city’s specialty waffles, hot chocolate, and of course, beer.

Visitors to Bruges can also enjoy a range of festive events throughout the season. This includes the Procession of the Christmas Star, a folklore reenactment of the Christmas story, and a Christmas dive that sees brave souls jump into the Koude Keuken pond on 23 December.

24 November 2023 – 7 January 2024

Ostend Christmas Market

Each year, the quaint seaside resort of Oostende transforms into a fairytale scene as the annual Christmas market comes to Leopoldpark.

Filled to the brim with unique crafts and festive decorations, the sprawling market is the ideal place to shop for gifts while lapping up the cozy atmosphere. There are plenty of food and drink stalls to graze from too, as well as a 1,000 square-meter ice rink to keep little ones entertained.

Winter in Oostende

The real highlight, however, is the 188-meter-long tunnel in the Adolf Buylstraat shopping street that is lit by a canopy of more than 200,000 fairy lights.

Notably, Ostend is also hosting a New Year’s Dive on 6 January, where thousands of brave locals will welcome 2024 by plunging into the chilly North Sea for – quite literally – thrills.

1 December 2023 – 7 January 2024

Ghent Christmas Market

More than 150 wooden huts set up shop each year in the heart of Ghent as the city’s popular Christmas market comes to town.

Stretching across Sint-Baafsplein, Klein Turkije, and Korenmarkt, the little chalets sell everything from handmade gifts and trinkets to festive drinks and nibbles.

Ghent Winter Festival

Those looking to lap up the cozy atmosphere can sip on hot Glühwein and watch live music performances under a ceiling of twinkling lights set against the city’s medieval backdrop.

A Christmas light walk, meanwhile, invites visitors to stroll through the city’s illuminated historical center, highlighting important monuments along the way.

More adventurous market-goers, however, can take a spin on Belgium’s largest mobile roller rink before warming up with a hot chocolate at the nearby bar, Chez Babette.

Little ones, meanwhile, will no doubt enjoy hopping inside a giant Christmas bauble on the Sapin Magique carousel or riding the Reindeer carousel at St Bavo’s Cathedral.

7 December – 31 December 2023

Leuven Christmas Market

Leuven Christmas Market is one of the oldest Christmas markets in Belgium and is often hailed as one of the ‘coziest’ in Europe.

More than 170 wooden stalls selling an assortment of festive decorations and crafts can be found scattered across the city’s picturesque Grote Markt. This is also home to a magnificent Christmas tree which forms a beautiful centerpiece and majestic backdrop to the event.

Winter Season Leuven

As well as browsing the market, visitors can delve into a range of delicious gourmet food and drink from the various trucks dotted along Monseigneur Ladeuzeplein and Herbert Hooverplein.

They can also enjoy a range of festive events at these locations, including intimate Christmas concerts and performances by local musicians and artists.

There is plenty to keep little ones happy too, including carousel rides, interactive workshops, an ice skating rink, and a visit to Santa’s little cottage in the middle of the woods.  

7 December – 21 December 2023

Winterland, Hasselt

Each year, the Flemish city of Hasselt transforms into Winterland, bringing with it Belgium’s largest indoor ice-skating rink, which covers a whopping 1,000 square meters.

During this time, numerous wooden huts selling all kinds of handmade gifts and snacks can be found on Kolonel Dusartplein.

Winterland Hasselt

There are plenty of attractions for little ones too, including several Christmas-themed fun fair rides, such as a grand carousel and rollercoaster, and a Fun House.

Children can also visit Santa’s House where he and his elves will be staying from 9 to 30 December. Braver kids, on the other hand, might prefer to enter Santa’s Ghost Villa and see what spooks await.

Adults, meanwhile, can enjoy sipping on hot Glühwein at the cozy Winterland Café or lapping up the fantastic atmosphere at one of the many wooden cafés dotted around the center.

17 November 2023 – 7 January 2024

Ieper Christmas Market

Ieper (or Ypres) is famous for its many war cemeteries, memorials, and museums that honor the battles fought in the region during WWI.

However, when the festive season arrives, the city’s beloved Christmas market transforms the Grote Markt into a glittering winter wonderland.

Ieper Christmas Market

Although this may be smaller than other Christmas markets in Belgium – with around just 25 stalls to explore – it certainly doesn’t lack magic.

Indeed, visitors can take a spin on the outdoor ice rink, feast on tasty Belgian food and drinks, and enjoy a variety of entertainment shows on the Grote Markt.

Notably, many of Ieper’s historic monuments are tastefully decorated during this time, paying homage to the city’s important past and making the experience even more memorable.

Dates to be confirmed