Visiting the magical Christmas markets in Belgium is an amazing experience that is a must for everyone heading to the country, Il-Bizzilla writer Lauren John explains where to head to this year and top spots to see in the New Year.
Words by Lauren John | Extract taken from December's 2022 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
Travelling to the Christmas Markets
Air Malta runs regular flights to (Zaventem) Brussels Airport and from there one has several transport options that will take you to the heart of the festive fun in central Brussels, Bruges or Ghent.
There are bus and train stations at the airport which will connect you with the centre of Brussels or take you on to Bruges and Ghent.
Journey times to Bruges can vary from 59 minutes to 1 hour 34 minutes by train, or approximately 2 hours by bus. Or you can arrive in Ghent in less than 2 hours by train. If you are taking a break in Brussels you’ll soon be in the heart of the festivities. There are regular bus and train services from the airport 7 days a week which take less than 20 minutes, with trains arriving at Brussels Central Station.
Ghent: The Christmas City
All the family can enjoy the magic and wonder of the Christmas Market in Ghent. Located in the historic centre, and running through December, this traditional market is the place to soak up the festive atmosphere, and enjoy over 150 traditional festive stalls. Whether you’re looking for mulled wine and Belgian waffles, or beautifully handcrafted keepsakes to take home you will find them along the streets of Sint-Baafsplein, Botermarkt, and Klein Turkije.
Stay a while and soak up the atmosphere and decorations while you shop, but don’t forget the other festive treats available in this Winter wonderland. A Ferris wheel, Christmas lights, and a large roller-skating rink are among the attractions on offer for 2022. For a truly immersive experience, add a trip to ‘The Castle of the Counts’, a centuries-old city icon that embraces the Christmas season. From 10th December 2022 to January 8th 2023, the castle is magically lit and decorated. There is festive music, a winter bar, and a stand-up comedian, along with outstanding city views from the top of the castle keep.
Fairy Tale Christmas Magic in Bruges
Widely dubbed one of the prettiest medieval cities in Europe, Bruges has an almost fairy-tale atmosphere during the Christmas season. Not only that but there are two Christmas markets to choose from, each with its own character and cosy winter charm. These markets are both centrally located at Mrkt (Market Square) and Simon Stevinplein (Simon Stevin Square), and between them, you can expect a mix of local crafts, handmade gifts, and tasty Belgian Waffles.
The markets are part of a wider ‘Winter Glow Festival’ a celebration of all things Christmas, which also includes the Vorst Winter Bar, an ice rink, and a light trail which includes lasers, lights, and projections on venues such as the BMCC Convention Centre, and the historic ruin of the Old Water House. Exploring all the decorated areas, sipping on some Glühwein, and taking in all the festival activities could be the perfect way to start your festive celebrations.
Christmas In The Capital: Brussels
The Belgian Capital comes alive with the sights and sounds of Winter Wonders, their city-wide Christmas celebration from December until January 1st 2023. One of the centrepieces of this event is the traditional Christmas market, with over 200 chalets serving up all kinds of Christmas gifts and decorations. Find some great gifts and stocking fillers in and around the Grand Place area of the city.
All the family will enjoy a city break to the Belgian Capital at Christmas, as the Winter Wonders event also includes a beautiful Christmas tree, fairground rides, a sound and light show, and Winter Pop – a multi-location festival of art, craft, music, and street entertainment.
New Year Celebrations In Brussels
From lighting up the sky with a spectacular fireworks’ display to a dinner, dancing, and DJ events at some of the city’s favourite venues and restaurants, there are plenty of options to spend New Year’s Eve in the Belgian Capital.
See in the New Year in style and extend your stay in Belgium with a New Year’s Eve celebration. The capital city comes alive with fireworks and light shows, special parties and music festivals.
Look out for special menus, dinner, and dancing at venues including Palais de la Dynastie, the Hard Rock Café, and the luxurious Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel.
Brussels is also host to the high-energy FCKNYE Festival, and with different rooms and stages, this is the ultimate hip-hop, drum n bass, and dub-step New Year’s Eve celebration.
Whether you opt for a large-scale party, cosy meal, or trip around one or more of Belgium’s iconic Christmas markets, you're sure to enjoy all this fascinating country has to offer as it lights up for Christmas.