Antwerp Christmas market on the Grote Markt

Why I Love Antwerp Christmas Market

In Belgium, Europe by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

Christmas markets are very popular in Belgium. But if you visit just one, which one do you choose? They all have something similar and something unique. Antwerp Christmas Market is one of my favorite of all the biggest Belgium Christmas markets, mainly because of its most spectacular setting. Find out!

Antwerp Christmas Market

Antwerp Christmas market is spread over different squares in the historic city center which makes it very cozy. Everything is within short walking distance: The Grote Markt, Suikerrui, Handschoenmarkt, the Groenplaats, and Steenplein at the foot of Antwerp Steen castle.

Grote Markt buildings lit at night during Antwerp Christmas market
The buildings of Grote Markt

When is Antwerp Christmas Market Open

The Christmas market in Antwerp is an annual event, and it’s usually open from the first weekend of December till just after Christmas.

This year Antwerp Christmas market should have been open from December 5, 2020, till January 3, 2021. However, the Belgian Government has just announced that there will be no Christmas markets this year.

Christmas Market on the Grote Markt in Antwerp
Christmas Market on the Grote Markt in Antwerp
Antwerp Steen castle lit at night during annual Christmas market, Belgium
Het Steen Castle in Antwerp

What to expect when visiting Antwerp Christmas market

Antwerp Christmas market has over 100 market stalls. The atmosphere is great and even if you don’t buy anything, you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of glühwein, taste some Belgian waffles and smoutebollen, or go ice skating.

Antwerp Christmas market and ice skating rink
Ice skating rink in Antwerp

You can easily visit Antwerp Christmas market with children as there is plenty to do for everyone. A fair with a Ferris Wheel and some children’s rides are located at the Scheldt river next to the castle.

The ice skating rink can be found on the Groenplaats (location varies). There are plenty of other family-friendly activities in the city to keep you entertained during the day as well (zoo, aquarium, museums,..).

Antwerp Ferris Wheel and Christmas market lit at night
Antwerp Ferris Wheel and Christmas market

Antwerp in winter

If you are looking for a short winter getaway in Europe, Antwerp is a great choice. It has plenty to offer for young and old.

Antwerp is the home base of Rubens, the world diamond center, it also provides some of the best shopping in Belgium.

Furthermore, there are lots of wining and dining options for any budget, all in a beautiful historical setting. Add the warm Christmas atmosphere and you cannot go wrong with visiting Antwerp in December.

If you can, plan on spending a weekend in Antwerp and stay for at least one or two nights. That way you can experience more that this great city has to offer. Here you can find the best deals for Antwerp accommodation.

For some more ideas for a family trip, please check this post about things to do in Antwerp with kids. Make sure to also check our city guide below!

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Antwerp

Kids at the Grote Markt in Antwerp in winter
Greetings from Antwerp

READ ALSO: Best European Christmas Markets – Hidden Gems

If you are looking for more travel inspiration and tips for visiting Belgium, please check our other guides below.

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Antwerp Christmas market in Belgium


  1. Hello! We will be visiting Antwerp for Christmas this year (from Australia). Do you recommend doing a special meal out for Christmas on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Will the market be open on Christmas Day? If so, maybe we should do our special meal at a restaurant on Christmas Eve, and eat at the markets on Christmas Day. Will restaurants be open on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day? So hard to arrange this from this far away. Any suggestions for great restaurants open over Christmas would also be appreciated.

    1. Author

      Hi Christine, Antwerp Christmas market opening times are below:
      Monday to Thursday and Sunday: noon – 10pm
      Friday and Saturday: noon to midnight
      Exceptions: 24 & 31 December and 1 and 5 January: noon to 6pm.
      I’m afraid I can’t help you much with the restaurants. It’s especially difficult on Christmas Eve (24/12) as that’s a family evening here in Belgium. So I think most restaurants will be closed. On the other hand, it’s a big city and there is always something open; I just don’t know what and I really have no time to research. Finding a nice hotel with a restaurant is probably your safest bet. Or something like Hard Rock cafe Antwerp – they often have special events for Holidays and seem to be open on 24/12.
      If you are looking for a really nice place for Christmas Day, I think Sir Anthony Van Dijck restaurant is open. It’s a place for finer dining, but we love it for special occasions.
      Hope this helps a bit. Otherwise check for the best Antwerp restaurants on TripAdvisor and then try checking their websites to see if they are open or not.
      Enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi Jurga,

    Thinking of visiting the market with a 2 year old in tow the weekend before Christmas. Is there any hotel or area you’d recommend for us to stay in?

    Thanks, your blog is great!

    1. Author

      Hi Maire, there are so many really nice hotels in Antwerp. It’s hard for me to suggest something specific not knowing what you like or what your budget is. Also, I’d book asap because the weekends before Christmas are usually very busy.
      If you have a budget and want to be in the center of the action, Hilton on the Groenplaats is right where the Christmas market is. I’m not sure if the noise from the outside bothers inside the hotel, but I’d assume not. Otherwise, take a look at other hotels nearby using the map function on
      If you rather stay close to the Central Station, Radisson Blue Astrid is very well located. Also here, open the map and take a look at the alternatives nearby. Another nice alternatives are Hotel Indigo and NH Antwerp City Center (the latter is a bit further from the main streets, but still well located).
      Hope this helps.

  3. hello we are coming over to Antwerp Christmas week i was wondering do you need cash to pay for the items at the Christmas market or do they all hold master card facilities ?
    also we are staying at the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel will we be able to walk there ?

    1. Author

      Hi Veronica, yes, you definitely need cash at the Christmas market. Some stands might take cards, but I don’t think the food and drink stands have credit card facilities – we always pay cash. Also, in Belgium you have to pay for the use of bathroom facilities, so it’s always useful to have some small change as well.
      Your hotel is located close to the Central Station. You can definitely walk to the Christmas market, it’s about 20-30 min walk along the busiest shopping street in Antwerp. If you find that’s too far, you can also take a tram/pre-metro to Groenplaats station.

  4. Really excited to be visiting this market next week as part of a mini cruise thank you for all the lovely pice and useful information

  5. Is the market open Christmas Day?

    1. Author

      Hi Kirsty, from what I see it’s open on the 25th.
      Here are Antwerp Christmas market opening times for 2018/19 winter season:
      Sunday to Thursday: noon – 10pm
      Friday and Saturday: noon to midnight
      Exceptions are 24/12 and 31/12 when the market closes at 6pm.

  6. We are due to visit Amsterdam and Antwerp Xmas markets , however we are on a cruise ship, and don’t want to take an expensive tour. Are the markets near the port?

    1. Author

      Hi Jan, Antwerp city centre is quite compact and most cruise ships dock right next to the Steen castle, in the heart of the old town. You don’t need any special tour in order to visit Antwerp or the Christmas market. If you are looking for ideas on how to best plan your time, please check my guides for the best things to do in Antwerp and how to see the best of Amsterdam in one day. They both have a map and even a suggested waking route, so you can easily see the main highlights on your own.
      Have a nice trip!

      1. Thank you , so helpful and such a quick response

    2. Hi Jan, are you by an chance doing the cruise and maritime C903 cruise? If so, see you there 🙂

  7. Hi, When does this years, 2018 Christmas market start in Antwerp?
    Many thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Jonathan, I guess you missed it – it’s right at the top of the post: ‘This year Antwerp Christmas market will be open from Saturday 8 December 2018 until Sunday 6 January 2019’.

  8. Hi, have the dates for 2017/2018 Market been announced as of yet? It looks beautiful!

    1. Author

      Hi Pam, the dates for the Antwerp Christmtmarket this year are as follows: from Saturday 9 December 2017 till Sunday 7 January 2018. Plenty of time to enjoy it! ?

  9. Very tempted to jump on a plane now! After visiting Brussels last month, I can’t get enough of Belgium!

    1. Author

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Tilly. It’s at the moments like this that I realise that we take so many things for granted. Like the fact that we have such beautiful places like Antwerp, Brussels or Bruges nearby, or that we can go to Amsterdam or Paris for a weekend whenever we feel like… It’s good to be reminded how special it actually is and what a privilege it is to live here in Europe.

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