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7 Best Christmas Markets in Belgium (+2022 Info & Insider Tips)

7 Best Christmas Markets in Belgium (+2022 Info & Insider Tips)

Thinking of visiting some nice Christmas markets in Belgium, but are not sure where to go and which ones are worth visiting the most? We live in Belgium, and in this guide, we feature the very best Belgian Christmas markets and insider tips and info for visiting each of them. Find out!

If you are traveling to Belgium in winter, you should really visit some of our famous Christmas markets. But with such a big variety of Christmas markets being held in every bigger town, how do you know where to go… In this post, I am highlighting some of the very best Christmas markets in Belgium. Find out!

Please note that this is not a complete guide to the Belgian Christmas markets. After all, there is no way you’d ever want to visit them all. Well, not as a tourist anyway I suppose. These are the biggest, most popular Christmas markets in Belgium, each well worth a visit.

Before we continue, let me tell you that Belgium is one of the best places for Christmas markets in Europe. Not only do we have the best food, beer, and chocolate, but most Christmas markets in Belgium stay open through Christmas – New Year holidays and the first week of January. So you can actually celebrate the Holidays with a visit to a Christmas market!

In case you wonder, this is not the case in most places in Germany or Austria, where Christmas markets close a day or two before Christmas. I always find it so disappointing! After all, that’s when most people have holidays and time to celebrate. Anyway, no such worries in Belgium – most Christmas markets in Belgium remain open during the entire holiday season. Just note that some markets will have shorter opening hours on the 24th, 25th, and 31st of December.

I have a tough time sorting this list of Belgium Christmas markets, as it’s really hard to say which one is the best. In a way, they are all similar, and at the same time, each has something unique. So I decided to just sort them alphabetically. The choice is yours to make!

TIP: If you’re looking for tips on where to stay for visiting Belgian Christmas markets, you can find my recommendations all the way at the bottom of this post.

If you are looking for more info about the weather, general info, and tips, check out our guide to visiting Belgium in winter.

Belgium is home to some of the best Christmas markets in Europe
 

These are the best Christmas markets in Belgium:

Antwerp Christmas Market

Antwerp Christmas market is normally open from the first Friday in December until the first Sunday in January.

This year, the Antwerp Christmas market should be open from December 2, 2022, until January 1 or 8, 2023. Exact dates are to be confirmed in the fall.

Antwerp hosts one of my personal favorite Christmas markets in Belgium. It’s located in such a beautiful setting! The buildings of the Old Town are all beautifully lit up and it just feels like you are walking in a fairytale. You really have to come here in the evening when it’s dark!

Antwerp Christmas market is quite big. It features over 100 market stalls, an ice skating rink, as well as many diverse family-friendly rides and attractions. The tubing slide and the big Ferris wheel are our kids’ favorites, every year again. Whereas we love the cozy bonfires and food stands with some irresistible waffles and of course Gluhwein.

TIP: If you come to Antwerp just for one day to visit the Christmas market, try to arrive early and see some of the city as well. You won’t be disappointed! If visiting Antwerp with kids, don’t miss the incredible China Light festival too. In fact, I would recommend spending at least two nights/one full day in Antwerp, so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. 

Here you can find more information about the best things to see and do in Antwerp. And here is our insider guide to some of the best hidden gems of Antwerp that most tourists never see. Check it out!

LEARN MORE: Antwerp Christmas Market

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

Bruges Christmas Market

Bruges Christmas market is usually open from the 3rd week of November till the first or the second weekend of January (usually, until the end of the Belgian school holidays).

This year, Bruges Christmas Market (Bruges Winter Glow) should be open from November 25, 2022, until January 8, 2023. Dates to be confirmed in the fall.

Bruges is probably the most fairytale-like town in Belgium, extremely popular with foreign visitors. I guess that’s also the reason why Bruges Christmas market is one of the few that open at the end of November already, giving winter tourists a chance to experience the festive holiday mood well before Christmas.

Bruges Christmas market is much smaller and cozier than most of the others in this selection, but somehow it feels more Christmassy. There is usually an ice skating rink at the Grote Markt (next to Bruges Belfry and Bruges Historium) or at the Minnewater, but that’s pretty much it – you won’t find fancy rides or attractions. However, there are plenty of market stalls selling crafts, Christmas decorations, and all kinds of local food and drinks.

This year, there’s also a beautiful light experience trail, Winter Glow.

Just like all the other Christmas markets in Belgium, the one in Bruges can get extremely busy, especially during the weekends. In general, Bruges is the place for day tourists and is deserted in the evening, but it’s usually not the case for the Christmas market. It seems to be always busy, no matter when you visit…

The good news is that in the evening you can easily escape the crowds of the Christmas market and stroll the empty streets and explore the beautiful canals that Bruges is famous for.

TIP: If you can, stay at least one night in Bruges! Not so much for the Christmas market, but in order to be able to experience this fairytale town at its best without the crowds of day visitors. There’s so much to see and do in Bruges that you can easily spend a few days here!

LEARN MORE: Bruges Christmas Market

Bruges Christmas Market - perfect for a romantic weekend getaway in Europe
Bruges is truly magical in winter
 

Brussels Christmas Market

Brussels Christmas market is usually open from the 3rd week of November until the first weekend of January.

This year, Brussels Christmas Market is scheduled to open from November 25, 2022, until January 1, 2023.

Brussels Christmas market (aka Brussels Winter Wonders) is probably the biggest and the busiest of all Christmas markets in Belgium. With over 200 market stalls spread between the main town square Grand Place and all the way to the Fish Market (Marché aux Poissons), it’s not for those looking for a small-town Christmas feel.

In addition to the countless market stalls, you will find an ice skating rink and lots and lots of attractions. To be honest, it sometimes feels a bit more like a big multi-cultural country fair than a traditional Christmas market. But if you are looking for a Christmas market that has it all, then you’ll definitely enjoy visiting Brussels in winter.

My absolute favorite place to be in Brussels during the Holiday season is the main town square, Grand Place. There is always a big Christmas tree in the middle of the square, as well as a Christmas stall with sheep and donkeys. But the best part is the incredible music and light show that turns the Grand Place into a real fairytale. The music and light show usually takes about 10-15 minutes and plays continuously throughout the evening, during the whole holiday season. Don’t miss it!

TIP: If you can, try to avoid weekends as Brussels Christmas market can get really packed. Also, don’t miss the main landmarks and tourist attractions in Brussels – there’s so much to see and do! And, as in any other bigger town, watch out for pickpockets.

LEARN MORE: Brussels Christmas Market & Where to Stay in Brussels

Brussels Grand Place lit during Christmas period
Grand Place during the winter holiday season
 

Ghent Christmas Market

Ghent Christmas market is usually open from the 2nd weekend of December until New Year.

This year, Ghent Christmas Market should be open from December 9 until December 31, 2022. Dates to be confirmed in the fall.

The Ghent Christmas market has really surprised me last year. It’s much bigger than I expected, yet still feels cozy, and has such a good vibe to it. If you can’t choose where to go and are looking to visit just one Christmas market in Belgium, then I think you won’t be disappointed if you choose Ghent.

With more than 150 wooden market stalls spread out in the old city center, it feels as if the whole town is in the Christmas spirit. Ghent Christmas market has a big ice skating rink and some really quirky attractions, like the Christmas-tree-merry-go-round in the featured image. And of course, just as everywhere else, you’ll find plenty of tasty treats and holiday presents.

TIP: Don’t miss the medieval castle of Graventseen, one of the main attractions in Ghent. Every holiday season it’s turned into a Winter Wonder castle with special Christmas-themed decorations and activities.

Christmas ornaments at a Christmas market
Christmas ornament market stands are my favorites!
 

Hasselt Christmas Market – Winterland Hasselt

Winterland Hasselt is is usually open from the 3rd week of November until the first weekend of January.

This year, Hasselt Winterland Christmas Market should be open from November 18, 2022, until January 1, 2023. Dates to be confirmed in the fall. More info here.

Winterland Hasselt is so much more than a Christmas market. Little known to international visitors (except maybe our neighbors from the Netherlands), it’s extremely popular with the locals.

What’s unique in Hasselt Winterland is that it’s hosted in a more compact setting – just one city square rather than spread out in town, so it really feels like visiting a cozy Christmas village. Their Christmas market is also very varied with stands from many different countries.

If you are looking for Santa Claus in Belgium, you should know that he doesn’t really come here; we have Sinterklaas instead (here you can find more interesting facts about Belgium). However, Santa Claus is gaining popularity, so you can meet him here and there. 

TIP: Winterland Hasselt is one of the best places to meet Santa Claus in Belgium since he has his house set here during the whole holiday season. It’s the same as the Home of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi in Finland, but has several big advantages – you don’t have to endure arctic winter conditions and it’s much cheaper than a trip to Lapland. Santa Claus usually has a small present for the little children, so if you are visiting Belgium’s Christmas markets with kids, don’t miss Hasselt!

Santa Claus at a Christmas market in Leuven, Belgium
If you look well, you can even meet Santa Claus in Belgium
 

Leuven Christmas Market

Leuven Christmas market is usually open from the beginning of December until just before Christmas Eve.

This year, Leuven Christmas market should be open from 9 to 23 of December 2022. Dates to be confirmed in the fall.

Leuven Christmas market is probably the smallest and the coziest of all the Christmas markets mentioned in this post. It doesn’t require hours of your time and makes for a great half-day trip from Brussels.

What I like most about the Christmas market in Leuven is the fact that it has a very local feel and is never as crowded as Christmas markets in the bigger towns. The festive lighting of the Town Hall is also incredible to see and it is worth visiting Leuven during the holiday season just to see this stunning building…

Also, it’s one of the places where you can usually find Santa Claus as well, so great for ex-pats and foreigners who want to experience true Christmas spirit in Belgium, just as you would at home.

TIP: Leuven is a student town and has such a great atmosphere in the evenings. Also, it’s just a short train ride from Brussels, so don’t miss it if you are looking to escape the crowds and experience one of the coziest Christmas markets of Europe.

LEARN MORE: Leuven Christmas Market

Leuven city hall at Christmas
Town Hall in Leuven looks like a fairytale castle at Christmas
 

Liege Christmas Market – Christmas Village

Liege Christmas market is usually open from the end of November till the end of December.

This year, Liege Christmas Market should be open from 25 November until 30 December 2022. Dates to be confirmed in the fall.

Liege is a big town in the French-speaking part of Belgium and hosts one of the largest Christmas markets in the country. It’s probably the most popular market in Wallonia, so expect huge crowds, especially if you visit on a weekend.

The city is really proud of its Village de Noel, the Christmas Village. Its layout is supposed to remind you of a real village, with wooden chalets lined along streets and alleyways, a square featuring a town hall, a church, and even a post office… Liege Christmas market features over 200 market stalls, selling local crafts and tasty regional specialties. You’ll also find a big variety of attractions, including an ice skating rink and a sled run.

Since most of the other major Christmas markets are located in the Flemish part of Belgium, it might well be worth visiting the Liege Christmas market for a slightly different approach, different culinary delights, and traditional crafts. Liege Christmas market is a blend of Belgian, German, as well as French Christmas traditions, but somehow it doesn’t appeal much to me personally since it seems to be mainly about the food and drinks, with very few market stalls selling Christmas ornaments and other decorations.

TIP: Don’t miss the famous Liege waffles.

Belgian waffles stand at a local Christmas market
You can’t visit Belgium and not try at least several different kinds of waffles
 

Other smaller Belgian Christmas markets that might be worth a visit

The Christmas markets described above are probably the best ones you can visit in Belgium as a tourist. There are many more smaller Christmas markets, but they usually have very limited opening times and are more oriented towards locals living in those towns.

Anyway, if you are looking for even more Christmas markets in Belgium, here are a few additional suggestions for the nicest ones:

  • Mechelen is just a short train ride from Brussels and is such a nice little town to visit as a day trip. It hosts a nice Christmas market on a few weekends before Christmas.
  • Oostende – one of the liveliest cities at the Belgian coast – hosts a nice Christmas market as well. You can easily reach the city by train from Brussels or any other bigger town in Belgium.
  • Namur also hosts a Christmas market in December. I wouldn’t go there just for the Christmas market alone, but it’s a nice town to visit, so if you are there anyway, you can just as well combine the sightseeing with some ice skating or mulled wine. More information can be found here.
  • Caves of Wonck (Les Grottes de Wonck). This artisanal Christmas market near Liege is unique due to its setting in a cave, but is only open one weekend in December. Nice to see if you are nearby, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it. More information here. In fact, if you are intrigued by an idea of a Christmas market in a cave, I’d rather recommend the one in Valkenburg, just over the border in the Netherlands.
Bruges is magical in winter
Bruges is not to be missed during the holiday season!
 

Where to stay for visiting Christmas markets in Belgium

You should know that Belgium is a rather small country and all the main towns have good railway connections. You can easily stay in one place and just make day trips to the other towns from there. I recommend choosing either Brussels or Antwerp as your home base.

If your schedule allows it, you may want to spend at least one night in Bruges as well. As I said before, it’s so nice to see this fairytale town in the evening when the day tourists have left. Bruges is also a wonderful place if you are looking for a romantic winter weekend getaway in Belgium.

Grand Place music and light show in Brussels Belgium
Brussels Town Hall and Grand Place music and light show in winter
 

So, this is my selection of only the very best Christmas markets in Belgium. Hope you’ll find plenty of inspiration for your winter trip and enjoy the festive season in Belgium.

TIP: If you are visiting Belgium in winter and are not sure where to start with the trip planning, please check my recommended Belgium itinerary. It covers all the musts in 3 or 4 days. You can use the same itinerary during the festive winter season just as well, as all the main towns mentioned in this itinerary have great Christmas markets.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a reply below.

READ ALSO: Best Christmas Markets in Europe – Hidden Gems

More tips for visiting Belgium & The Netherlands:

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Best Christmas markets to visit Belgium this Holiday season
 
Brussels Christmas market is just one of the many amazing Xmas markets you should visit in Belgium

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Lisa Darrow

Tuesday 9th of November 2021

Great article..you ‘sold’ me on Christmas in Belgium! Thanks for all the information…still timely in 2021.

Jurga

Wednesday 10th of November 2021

Glad to hear that, Lisa. Hope you have a great time in Belgium!

Darren Sammut

Tuesday 17th of September 2019

Hi, first of all thank you for the information available on your website, it is really useful. I will be travelling to Belgium for Christmas with three young kids (6, 7 & 8) for 7 days. We will be travelling by train since I got to know about the travel pass. I was thinking of visiting Ghent, Brugge and Antwerp. Maybe on my way back to the airport, I'll stop for a short while at Brussels. How would you plan the journey? Ghent, Brugge & Antwerp? Also, in which place would you recommend to stay for Christmas eve please?

Thanks in advance.

Jurga

Thursday 19th of September 2019

Hi Darren, it really doesn't matter how you plan the itinerary and the distances between the towns are so small that you can easily stay in one of them and just take a train to visit the other ones for a day. PS kids under 12 travel free on Belgian trains within Belgium. You might find more ideas on how to plan your trip in our suggested Belgium itinerary. As for Christmas Eve, it's tricky, because everything will be closed earlier that day and it's the evening when people are all at home with their families. Not many restaurants open either. So I'd suggest staying at a really nice hotel that has a restaurant so that you can celebrate as well. However, I just did a quick search and availability of hotels is already very limited for that date, let alone with 5 people (if you are looking for a family room - even less choice). I'd say take a look on booking.com where you can filter by hotels that have a restaurant and other criteria and see if you can find something nice in any of the main cities. Brussels and Antwerp have more choice, Bruges is really difficult and booking.com shows me that 98% of hotels are fully booked already for that evening... Self-catering accommodation is also an option, but you have to cook yourselves that evening. I really wouldn't count on finding a restaurant that's open. Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your trip!

Jason

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

Very informative and well-written article. I cannot wait to visit Belgium. One question I do have is can you see the markets in their full splendor after Christmas (the ones that remain open past Christmas). I was just curious if the markets that remain open until January still offer the same experience if you visit them before Christmas, or do they wind down with fewer vendors? We were looking at visiting Belgium the week between Christmas and New Years and hoped we'd still be able to enjoy the full festivities. Thanks for the fantastic article and keep up the great work!

Jurga

Sunday 2nd of June 2019

Hi Jason, the Christmas markets in Belgium remain just the same between Christmas and New Year as they are before - just as many vendors and maybe even more people, because everyone has more time in that period. So no need to worry, just need to check the opening dates. It's possible that some markets will be closed on Christmas day itself. I haven't yet updated the post for the following winter, not sure if that info is already available. Hope this helps. PS if you are looking for more ideas on what to see in Belgium, please check our suggested Belgium itinerary.

Diana Martez

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

A friend and I are traveling to Belgium dec29th-Jan 4th. Where do you recommend we spent New Year’s Eve. We were thinking Bruges and then move to Brussels. Any thoughts? another option is Ghent.

Jurga

Wednesday 28th of November 2018

Hi Diana, it seems that you and your friend asked similar same question on two different articles at the same time, so I'll also post the same reply ? I’m not really sure what to recommend as it depends on what you like – more crowds or quieter places. All big cities should have fireworks at New Year’s Eve, but obviously celebrations will be bigger in Brussels and Antwerp than in Ghent or Bruges. If you like watching fireworks, then Antwerp is probably the best choice because it uses the river as the location for the firework show – more open space, bigger spectacle. ? Brussels also has nice fireworks, but is much much busier than the other towns and not my personal favourite due to the crowds. If you are planning to go for nice dinner that evening, best book a restaurant in advance – Belgians love to celebrate that evening with their friends. PS You can also visit all three cities just by staying in one of them – there are good train connections between all of them and it’s just a short ride. I’d stay in the city where you want to celebrate New Year’s so that you don’t have to look for a train in the middle of the night.

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