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Bruges Christmas Market & Winter Glow (2024 Dates, Tips & Info)

Bruges Christmas Market & Winter Glow (2024 Dates, Tips & Info)

Are you planning to visit the Bruges Christmas Market in 2024 and wondering what to expect, what to do, or where exactly to go? Or maybe you are researching the best Christmas Markets in Belgium and wondering if the Bruges Christmas Market is worth it?

This insider’s guide should give you a good idea of what to expect when visiting the Bruges Christmas Market and Winter Glow winter experience this winter season.

You can also find some practical information about the Bruges ice skating rink, Christmas tree, light experience trail, and pictures that will give you a better idea of what it’s like to visit Bruges during the Christmas season.


What is Bruges Winter Glow?

Winter Glow is the collective name of all the winter experiences in Bruges: Bruges Christmas Market, light experience trail, ice skating, light decorations throughout the city, and festive shopping.

In other words, it’s a winter festival that turns the entire city of Bruges into a true Christmas town.

Bruges Winter Glow light show at Christmas
Bruges buildings lit during the Winter Glow festive season

When is Bruges Christmas Market Open?

Bruges Christmas Market is usually open from the 3rd week of November till the first weekend of January (or the weekend after Epiphany, depending on the Belgian school holidays).

It’s open daily from around 10-11 am to 10-11 pm. On 24/12 and 31/12, the market closes earlier, usually at around 7 pm.

Bruges Christmas Market is an annual event. Some names, locations, and decorations differ from year to year, but it’s always nice and well worth visiting Bruges during the winter season.

This winter, the Bruges Christmas Market & Bruges Winter Glow Light Festival will likely be open from November 22, 2024, until January 5, 2025. Please note that these dates are based on the opening dates in the previous years and are not yet confirmed at the time of the last update.

Good to know: Most Christmas Markets in Western Europe close just before Christmas. This is especially the case in Germany, where all the world-famous Christmas markets shut just before Christmas Eve. The good news is that this is not the case in Belgium. Here, all the bigger Christmas Markets stay open through the entire holiday period, including the entire school holidays period in the first week of January.

So if you are looking to visit a nice romantic Christmas Market during the Christmas – New Year period, Bruges Christmas Market is a great choice.

Walplein in Bruges at Christmas
Walplein in Bruges. The entire old town is really nicely lit and very cozy at Christmas.
Bruges in winter
Bruges Rozenhoedkaai in winter

Bruges Christmas Market – What to Expect

Many people wonder what the Bruges Christmas market is really like. Well, it’s not nearly as big as Brussels Winter Wonders, or the Christmas market in Antwerp, and you won’t find many country-fair-like attractions here. But it’s the most Christmassy and most romantic of all the Belgian Christmas Markets.

Of course, you’ll find market stalls selling everything from wool socks and Christmas decorations to all kinds of local food and drinks. But the true charm of Bruges Christmas market is the city itself!

Bruges is already a fairytale-like destination, but it’s even more beautiful with all the Christmas lights and decorations.

Good to know: For a few years, Bruges used black containers for its market stalls. After lots of criticism, it has now been decided to change this and make Bruges Christmas Market cozier again.

One more thing to keep in mind is that Bruges is a very famous day-trip destination for tourists (not just from Brussels, but also from Amsterdam and North of France). It’s also a popular shopping destination for locals. But the majority of day visitors leave early, so the city is always quiet in the evening. And while the two main locations of the Christmas Market in Bruges can get a bit busy at times, in general, Bruges is quite deserted in the evening.

TIP: So if you can, plan to spend at least one or two nights in Bruges. That way, you can experience its magical atmosphere at night as well. As already mentioned, Bruges is even more romantic and dreamy during the Winter Glow season, when the entire old town is beautifully lit with Christmas lights.

Furthermore, there are many really nice hotels and B&Bs in Bruges (many have stunning Christmas decorations as well), and lots of nice restaurants. You can easily spend an entire winter weekend here and you’ll find plenty to see and do in Bruges.

Bruges - cafes at the Grote Markt town square
Colorful buildings and cafes at the Markt of Bruges – even more romantic with all the Christmas lights!

Where does the Bruges Christmas Market take place?

Bruges Christmas market usually consists of two Christmas markets. The biggest Christmas Market is located on the Grote Markt (the Market Square of Bruges), the main town square where you’ll find Bruges Belfry Tower and Bruges Historium (one of the best tourist attractions in town).

There is also a smaller Christmas market on Simon Stevinplein, a cozy town square just off the main shopping street of Bruges.

You don’t really need any special walking map or preparations for visiting the Bruges Christmas Market – it’s so compact that you’ll easily find your way to it. And if you follow the walking map that we shared in the article featuring all the main sights and attractions in Bruges, you’ll pass most of the best Christmas decorations in the old town as well.

However – in addition to the Christmas Markets – there are also other places that are well worth seeing if visiting Bruges at Christmas. So don’t miss those as well – see below.

Bruges Christmas market on the Grote Markt town square
Bruges Christmas Market on the Grote Markt town square
Bruges Christmas market at Simon Stevinplein
Bruges Christmas market at Simon Stevinplein
Colorful buildings of the Markt Square in Bruges at Christmas
Colorful buildings of the Markt Square in Bruges at Christmas

Bruges Ice Skating Rink

Every winter, during the same period when the Bruges Christmas market is open, the city also opens an outdoor ice skating rink.

However, the location of the Bruges ice skating rink is not the same every year. Sometimes it’s located on the Grote Markt, but recently, the ice skating rink can be found at Minnewater (Lake of Love). There is a cozy winter bar here as well.

Practical information: The ice skating rink is normally open daily from 11 am to 9 pm (10 pm on the weekends). It also closes a bit earlier on December 24, 25, 31, and has shorter opening hours on January 1. Skates are normally included in the ticket price and there’s no need (or possibility) to reserve ice skating in advance. Be sure to have a credit/debit card, because normally, they do not take cash.

Once you are inside, you can usually skate as long as you want to. For more practical info, see here.

Bruges in winter - ice skating rink during the annual Christmas market
Bruges ice skating rink during the Winter Glow Christmas festival
Brugge Minnewater park lit for Christmas
Bruges Minnewaterpark and ice skating rink at Christmas

Bruges Christmas Tree

There are usually several Christmas Trees in Bruges.

The nicest one can be found in Burg Square, where you’ll also find Bruges City Hall.

It’s located to the east of the Grote Markt, on your way to Rozenhoedkaai, one of the most famous photo spots in Bruges.

Bruges Christmas tree (Brugge kerstboom)
Bruges Christmas tree on the Burg Square

Winter Glow – Light Experience Trail

In addition to the Christmas Market and the ice skating rink, there are also various light installations throughout the city of Bruges. You can follow a light experience trail Winter Glow, and see various light installations along the way. You don’t absolutely have to do the entire route, but it’s another nice way to experience Bruges in winter!

Here you can find more information about this light trail and a map of all the locations. However, there are signs throughout the city leading you from one place to the other, so you’ll easily find your way around even without a map.

Below are some pictures to give you an idea of what it’s like.

Practical information: The light experience trail is lit every evening from 5 PM to midnight. It’s free of charge. The opening dates are the same for all the Winter Glow experiences, as noted above.

Bruges Winter Gloed light festival in December
Bruges Winter Glow – the light experience trail takes you to some lesser-visited places in the city as well. This picture was taken at Gentpoort.
Bruges Winter Glow light festival in Belgium
One of the light installations of the Winter Glow light experience trail in Bruges
Powder Tower at Minnewater park in Bruges during winter holiday season
Powder Tower at Minnewater Park
Brugge Wintergloed - Winter Glow Christmas and light festival in Bruges Belgium
Bonifacius Bridge and Church of Our Lady Bruges during the Winter Glow light festival
Bruges Winter Glow and Christmas lights at Rozenhoedkaai
Winter light experience at Rozenhoedkaai in Bruges

Is Bruges Christmas Market expensive?

This is the question we often get from our readers, for a big variety of destinations we write about… In all honesty, I find it difficult to answer. Because what’s expensive for one person, is completely normal for others…

Let’s just say that the prices at the Bruges Christmas market are comparable or even cheaper to those in the other Christmas markets in Belgium, the Netherlands, France, or Germany.

Expect to pay 4-6 EUR for a warm Belgian waffle or a crepe pancake, 3-5 EUR for Belgian fries, 2-4 EUR for a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate, and 2-5 EUR for a shot of jenever or a glass of mulled wine. Ice skating costs 6 EUR.

If you want to explore Bruges by a horse-drawn carriage, prepare to pay 60-70 EUR for a ride (up to 5 people per carriage). Carriage rides usually start at the Grote Markt.

Belgian waffles at Bruges Christmas market
Belgian waffles at Bruges Christmas market
Chocolate shop in Bruges at Christmas
Chocolate shop in Bruges at Christmas

Is Bruges Christmas Market worth it?

Bruges Christmas market is quite small and – as far as Christmas Markets go – is not that exciting compared to the ones in the bigger cities in Belgium.

However, if you come here for the complete experience and take the time to explore the city deeper, then yes, Bruges is well worth it at Christmas!

The city is magical and truly fairytale-like, with all the beautiful lights and Christmas decorations everywhere. And the Christmas Market is just a nice extra that will make your Bruges winter visit even more special.

READ ALSO: Best Tours in Bruges

Bruges Beguinage nicely lit at Christmas holiday season
Bruges Beguinage nicely lit during the holiday season
Bruges Historium lit for the winter holiday season
Bruges Historium building is nicely lit for the winter holiday season. I highly recommend visiting Bruges Historium – it’s a great way to learn more about the city’s past. Kids will love it too!

Tips for Visiting Bruges Christmas Market

  • If you can, try to avoid weekends. Bruges can get very busy, especially on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday afternoons during the most popular shopping weekends around Christmas.
  • Bring credit cards and some cash (we use Euro here in Belgium). While most stands at the Christmas market now take cards, it’s always good to have some change as well. Also because you have to pay if you want to use public bathrooms (this is the case everywhere in Belgium).
  • Avoid coming by car on the weekends. Once in Bruges, park your car and simply walk everywhere – it’s a very walkable city. If you absolutely want to drive, one of the easiest-accessible centrally-located parking is Parking ‘t Zand (see map). Somewhat less busy are the car parkings at the railway station. However, often it’s easier (and much cheaper) to park on the outskirts of the city. Sometimes the city also offers free buses to avoid congestion in the center.
  • Dress warm and wear comfortable shoes – you’ll be walking a lot. It can be quite windy in Bruges, so it’s always a good idea to pack a warm hat and gloves. An umbrella is usually a good idea as well. It hardly ever snows in Belgium, and even less so in December than in January, so – unfortunately – your chances for a white Christmas in Bruges aren’t very high. But you never know – Belgian weather is one thing you really can’t foresee in advance.
  • If you are visiting Bruges with a baby or a toddler, you can usually manage with a stroller. However, prepare for lots of cobbled streets. And – if it’s busy – it will be a very frustrating experience, so it’s better to carry a baby in a carrier if you can.
  • Don’t bring dogs to a Christmas market – it’s usually much too busy for that.
  • Stay in Bruges for at least one night. I can’t say this enough – if you want to experience that special fairytale-like atmosphere Bruges is known for, be sure to explore the city in the evening. Bruges is magical when all the day-trippers leave. Further below, we have some hotel recommendations for your winter stay – take a look!

READ ALSO: What It’s Really Like to Visit Belgium in Winter

Bruges at Christmas - Belgium
Horse-drawn carriage on the Markt in Bruges. Even on a rainy day in December, Bruges can be quite romantic!

Where to stay for Bruges Christmas market

Here are some recommended hotels for your Christmas stay in Bruges, for all budgets:

Hotel de Orangerie in Bruges at Christmas
Hotel de Orangerie in Bruges at Christmas

So, this is our guide to the Bruges Christmas market and Winter Glow. I hope that it gives you a better idea of what you can expect when visiting Brugges for the holiday season.

We live in Belgium and visit Bruges quite often. So if you have any questions about your trip that aren’t answered in our articles, feel free to leave a reply below and we’ll try to help.

Have a great time in Bruges at Christmas. It’s truly magical!

READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Bruges

More tips for your trip to Belgium:

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Complete guide to visiting Bruges Christmas market in Belgium

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Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Hello, I cannot find on any site confirmation that the Brugge Christmas markets re open of Christmas Day 2023. Does anyone know?


Tuesday 5th of December 2023

Hi Suzanne, as said in the article, the Christmas Market is open daily, so yes, it's also open on December 25. Most shops in the city will be closed on that day, however, but will be open on the 24th and the 26th. Enjoy your visit!


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Hello, We are travelling from Australia to Bruges for Christmas. We will be there from 23/12 to 26/12 where would you recommend we have our Christmas Eve/Day lunch/dinner and would we need to book. We are staying at Hotel Lucca. Thanks in anticipation


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Hi Tammy, you should definitely research which restaurants are open on 24/12 or 25/12 and yes, absolutely book in advance because there won't be much open, especially on the 24th. Unfortunately, I really have no time to help you with this. You could ask the hotel for recommendations. And otherwise, you'll have to contact some restaurants yourself. Have a great trip!


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Hi :) Thanks for this guide, very helpful! If you have some time to help me out with these questions, I'd appreciate it a lot. Have been reading a lot, but would like some advice on my specific situation!

I am planning to visit Belgium this winter with my family. It will be my family's first time in Europe (we are from the Caribbean), and I'm looking forward to showing them all the beautiful cities I've previously visited in my Europe travels (Bruges, Ghent, Brussels). We are a big group (6) and started planning a little too late, so was not able to find accommodations together outside of Brussels for our dates. Since we'll be in Belgium from Dec 30-Jan 4, I was hoping to explore the 3 mentioned places: Bruges, Ghent, Brussels. I've done individual day trips to Ghent & Bruges from Brussels in spring and fell in love with both towns.

My mom started reading all about Belgium and the different day trips you could take from the capital, and was mesmerized with other Belgian towns that I have not been to yet: Antwerp, Dinant, Namur & Leuven. She wants to spend 1.5 days in Brussels and do the following with our 3 entire days in Belgium: day trip to Ghent & Bruges, day trip to Leuven & Antwerp, day trip to Namur & Dinant. The plan is to travel by train (not guided tours) and spend the morning in one place, and head around to the second town in the afternoon- staying until after sunset to explore the towns at night (since days are short) and experience the Christmas atmosphere, before heading to Brussels to sleep. She has seen a lot of tour companies that offer these combinations of towns in day trips, so thinks it might be possible for us to do it too, especially if we take the trains on our own- and stay as long as we want to.

I feel like we might be trying to do too much, but also understand the appeal of all these places she's hoping to visit. We discussed that if we really like the first place we visit that day and want to stay there, we might be willing to stay there instead of heading over to the next place in the afternoon.

We're also still debating whether we should do New Year's Eve in Brussels or one of the towns (Bruges/Ghent/Leuven/Antwerp). We know that Brussels has events at the Atomium & Grand Place, but have also heard that every town has its own smaller, magical celebration. We've never really done a crowded New Years (and feel like it could be a little overwhelming since we've always spent it back home at our house), so any experience would be a new one for us, although a smaller, authentic celebration sounds amazing. If we decide to spend the eve in one of the towns, we'd have to travel back to Brussels to sleep after midnight but would be willing to do so if the trains are still running at that hour.

The same dilemma applies to which day trip we should do on January 1st. I've seen most places to eat/shop are closed, even in Brussels, so just wondering what we could plan to do that day. I was thinking Bruges & Ghent since they are so beautiful to just walk around, feeling that the lack of crowds might make it feel more like a fairytale. Seems like the Christmas markets should still be open, even if it is for more limited hours.

Any thoughts on any of this?


Tuesday 24th of October 2023

Hi Bel, wow that's a lot of questions! :) Your plans sound doable, I'm just not sure I would do Leuven and Antwerp in one day. Antwerp has so much to offer that a day is hardly enough, plus, Leuven - Antwerp train connection is really not the best if you are short on time. If you absolutely want to visit one more place, Mechelen would be much simpler since it's on the same train line, between Brussels and Antwerp. But - once again - I really think you will find plenty to do in Antwerp for a day. See our guide to the best of Antwerp and also the hidden gems. For the rest, yes, Bruges - Ghent can be a good option on January 1 since you don't absolutely have to visit many places inside in order to enjoy these towns. For New Year, I think I would stay in Brussels, mainly because you don't have to take a train back after midnight. Or you would have to research in advance which trains still run and how late. Also, if you want to go to a restaurant for dinner that night, it's best to book in advance. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!

De Andra

Saturday 7th of October 2023

We are a family of 4 adults, 2 teens, and 2 elementary age and are thinking of doing a bus tour to Bruges for the Christmas market. We’ll have 10 hours there before we depart. Is 10 hours too long?


Sunday 8th of October 2023

Hi De Andra, 10 hours is way too much for the Christmas Market, but it's quite a nice amount of time to enjoy Bruges in general. There is quite a lot to see and do, plus lots of shops, restaurants, etc. Take a look at our guide to the best of Bruges for some inspiration. With kids, definitely check out Bruges Historium (with the VR experience) and maybe book a waffle-baking workshop or some food tour. Our kids always love this type of experiences. Have a great time in Bruges!


Wednesday 4th of October 2023

I started taking a solo trip once a year! I live in the US and love spending as much time as I can Europe. Because of this page, I plan to spend two nights in Bruges! I have looked at the suggested hotels. But, wondering if you would have a different suggestion for a female, solo traveler. I discovered my love of Christmas markets last year in Paris. I love to walk, but also have safety in mind. Thank you!! I cannot wait to celebrate another birthday in Europe.


Thursday 5th of October 2023

Hi Terry, all these hotels will be just fine for a solo traveler too. Bruges old town is a rather small, very walkable, and safe. Just look for a hotel that appeals to you the most. Have a great trip!

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