Dinant Christmas Market is an annual event held from November 24, 2023, through December 28, 2023, in the center of Dinant, Belgium. This Christmas market is located along the Meuse River and attracts 250,000 Christmas market visitors. The market has over 100 local artisan stalls in the streets near the Collegiate Church of Our Lady in the city center of Notre Dame. Visitors can browse the stalls for quality holiday gifts like ornate wood carvings, ceramics, candles, glasswork and more. The market features authentic local cuisines like Dinant sausages, potato frites, waffles, sweet couque de Dinant honey cakes and drinks like mulled wine and hot chocolate. The Dinant Christmas market highlights live music performances, a Christmas circus and visits from Santa Claus and his donkey, Martin.
What is the Dinant Christmas Market?
Dinant Christmas Market (Marché de Noël de Dinant) is an annual Christmas in Dinant, Belgium, held in December in the medieval town of Citadel and Croisette. It is one of the oldest and most popular Christmas markets in Belgium. The Dinant Christmas Market 2023 opens on Friday, November 24, 2023, with the market running daily until Thursday, December 28, 2023. Dinant Christmas Market takes place in the historic center of Dinant along the Meuse River. The stalls line the town's cobbled streets and are clustered around the 12th-century Collegiate Church of Notre Dame.
Dinant Christmas Market originated several decades ago, inspired by the region's cultural heritage and festive customs. It unites locals and tourists, fostering community and supporting local crafts and businesses. Initially established to showcase Belgian Christmas traditions, it has grown into a popular annual event. Its success is attributed to its blend of tradition and modern entertainment, making it a crucial part of Dinant's cultural scene, representing the essence of the Christmas spirit and unity in Belgium.
When does the Dinant Christmas Market 2023 open?
Dinant Christmas Market 2023 opens on Friday, November 24, 2023, with the market running daily until Thursday, December 28, 2023. The market stalls are set up by Friday afternoon of November 24, 2023, followed by the opening ceremony at 5 p.m. with speeches and choirs. Christmas tree lighting is at 6 p.m. in the main square. Dinant Christmas Market officially opens after tree lighting.
Where is the Dinant Christmas Market taking place?
The Dinant Christmas Market is located in the historic city center of Dinant, along the Meuse River. The market spreads across the Charles de Gaulle Bridge and along the quays on both sides of the river. The geographic coordinates for the Dinant Christmas Market are 50°15′N 4°55′E. The central point of the market is located at latitude 50.250 and longitude 4.917.
Why should you visit the Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the reasons why you should visit the Dinant Christmas Market.
- Cliffside Setting. The cliffside setting of Rocher Bayard Rock cliff, which towers 160 feet over the Meuse River, provides a natural backdrop. This is the view when you shop and dine at Dinant Christmas market. The combination of river, cliff and market stalls creates postcard-worthy views.
- Quality Artisan Wares. Quality artisan wares from over 100 local artisans sell ornate decorative pieces such as ceramics, wooden toys, holiday ornaments, candles and some made from Dinant copperware. Dinant Christmas market offers an array of Belgian gifts and souvenirs.
- Authentic Local Cuisine. Authentic Belgian local cuisine like couques de Dinant (sugar-coated yule log pastry), tarte al djote (a meat pie with ham, leek and cheese), Dinant sausages, Belgian waffles with sweet toppings, vin chaud (hot spiced wine) and La Cornet d'Or artisanal beer from the local brewery. The variety of food stalls at Dinant Christmas Market lets you sample many regional flavors and specialties.
- Santa (Saint Nicholas) and Donkey visit. Santa (Saint Nicholas) and Donkey visit the Dinant Christmas market every Christmas season. Children can meet and take photos with Santa Claus and pet and feed carrots to Martin the donkey. Meeting the real-life Saint Nicholas and his donkey brings holiday magic to kids, young and old. Families flock to get their pictures taken with Santa and Martin with the market and cliffside in the background.
What is the cost of entering the Dinant Christmas Market?
Dinant Christmas Market does not charge an entry fee. Access to the market squares and streets is completely free. Visitors can wander around the stalls, displays and attractions without needing to buy a ticket. The only optional costs involved would be fees for rides, ice skating, performances, food and drinks and souvenirs. Rides from carousels cost €4 ($4, £3) per ride. Ice skating rink costs €5 ($5, £4) for adults and children. Performance ticket prices vary but usually start from €5 ($5, £4) to €15 ($17, £13). Tickets to see the Christmas circus show in the entertainment tent cost €15 ($17, £13). Food and drinks such as hot chocolate or a mug of mulled wine cost between €2 ($2, £1) to €8 ($8, £7). Souvenirs such as crafts, decorations and gifts can range from €5 ($5, £4) for small items to over €100 ($107, £87). Souvenir ornaments cost from the Christmas market is €10 ($10, £9).
What are the attractions close to the Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the attractions close to Dinant Christmas Market.
- Citadel of Dinant. Citadel of Dinant is a large fortress tower over the city on a cliff above the Meuse River, located 0.5 kilometers (0.3 miles) from Dinant Christmas Market which displays Dinant's history and offers panoramic views over the river valley. Citadel of Dinant attracts 100,000 Christmas market visitors per year to enjoy the stunning view of Dinant.
- House of Adolphe Sax. House of Adolphe Sax in Dinant is the birthplace of saxophone inventor Adolphe Sax. The museum is located 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Dinant Christmas market. This museum houses a collection of his saxophones and documents of Adolphe Sax's life and attracts over 50,000 Christmas market visitors.
- Collegiate Church of Our Lady. Collegiate Church of Our Lady is a medieval church that is recognizable with its onion-shaped dome located right next to the Dinant Christmas market, about 0.2 kilometers (0.1 miles) from the church. This Ornate medieval church next to the is home to over 100,000 Christmas market visitors annually to see its architecture.
- War Memorial of 1914. War Memorial of 1914 is a monument located along the Meuse River commemorating those who died when German troops invaded and burned Dinant in August 1914 at the start of World War I. It is 1 kilometer (0.6) miles from the Dinant Christmas market and caters to 30,000 visitors interested in WW1 history. It has a bronze statue of a woman over a crypt containing the ashes of the 1914 fire victims.
Is there an alternative name for Dinant Christmas Market?
Yes, Dinant Christmas Market is commonly known as the Dinant Village de Noël. This name translates to “Dinant Christmas Village” in French. The market’s official title is “Marché de Noël de Dinant”. Locals and visitors frequently refer to it colloquially as the “Village de Noël de Dinant”. Dinant’s location in Belgium’s French-speaking Wallonia region, French terms like “Village de Noël” are widely used in addition to the formal name of Marché de Noël.
What are the Dinant Christmas Market's impacts on the Local Economy and Tourism?
Dinant Christmas Market has a significant positive impact on the local economy and tourism in Dinant. These are revenue generation, promotion of local businesses, boosting the hospitality industry, seasonal jobs and local culture. The market attracts over 250,000 visitors who spend money on food, drinks, rides, accommodations, shopping and more. Many local food producers, artisans, craftspeople and artists can sell their products at the market. This provides vital income during the winter months. The hotels and restaurants see a spike in bookings and customers during the 4-week run of the market. The market requires extra vendors, staff, performers and workers to set up the infrastructure, generating many temporary Christmas jobs. The market provides a platform for local musicians, entertainers, choirs and artists to perform and share Walloon cultural traditions.
Is Dinant Christmas Market better than Liege Christmas Market?
It depends. Both Dinant Christmas Market and Liege Christmas Market offer unique experiences within the Belgian holiday festivities. Dinant has over 100 local artisan stalls that offer quality crafts and authentic Belgian cuisine, fostering a cozy and intimate atmosphere. Highlights include visits from Santa, cultural performances and nearby attractions like the Citadel and House of Adolphe Sax. Dinant fosters a traditional, relaxed ambiance, ideal for those seeking an intimate market experience within a smaller town setting. Liege Market spans plazas and squares in downtown Liege with over 200 stalls. Liege showcases a broader range of crafts, local delicacies and an extensive cultural program. It hosts shows, parades and performances like The Snow Queen, attracting a diverse crowd seeking a vibrant Christmas experience. Both markets allow visitors to enter for free and provide various activities such as rides, ice skating, shows, food, drinks and items to buy. The markets play a vital role in the local economy by bringing in tourists, creating chances for local artisans to sell their goods and supporting businesses in the hospitality industry. Each market presents distinct regional specialties and handmade crafts, promoting a feeling of tradition and celebration during the festive period. Both have unique qualities. Determining which is “better” depends on personal preferences.
What food can visitors eat at Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the top Belgian foods visitors can get at Dinant Christmas Market.
- Saucisson d’Ardenne. Saucisson d'Ardenne sausage is made from a mixture of pork, beef, garlic, peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves and other spices. It has a firm texture and bold flavor. Locals enjoy thin slices of saucisson d'Ardenne by itself or in a sandwich and it is available in the Dinant Christmas market stalls.
- Couque de Dinant. Couque de Dinant is Dinant's signature honey cake made with a sweet dough of flour, honey and spices. Couque de Dinant is found in the Dinant Christmas market and is best enjoyed with coffee or hot chocolate.
- Cuberdons. Cuberdons are cone-shaped raspberry and cherry-flavored purple candies that are a Belgian specialty. You can purchase bags of cuberdons from candy vendors around the Dinant Christmas market.
- Mosselen-friet. Mosselen-friet is a classic dish of steamed mussels served with fries in a creamy herb and white wine broth is a specialty at the Dinant Christmas market.
What to drink at Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the drinks you can have at Dinant Christmas Market.
- Glühwein (Mulled Wine). Glühwein is a traditional hot spiced red wine that is a must-have drink at any Christmas market in Europe. Glühwein is available in the Dinant Christmas market. The rich red wine is infused with orange, lemon, cinnamon, star anise and cloves. It is usually served in commemorative mugs that you can take home.
- Hot Chocolate. Hot Chocolate, made from melted chocolate shavings and steamed milk, is a traditional drink available at vendors in the Dinant Christmas market that is topped with piles of whipped cream or marshmallows.
- Fruit Wines. Fruit Wines using strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and other fruits are a specialty in Dinant. Fruit wines are often sweetened and sometimes fortified with brandy or other spirits. These fruit wines are available in the Dinant Christmas market.
- Beer. Beer is what Belgium is known for. Dinant Christmas Market offers a great chance to try traditional festive holiday beers from local breweries. Look for special editions brewed with warming spices like gingerbread, cinnamon and orange peel. Local beers like Nostradamus, Winterkoninkske and Kerst Pater can be found at Dinant Christmas Market.
What can people buy at Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the things you can buy at Dinant Christmas Market.
- Handcrafted Nativity Scenes. Handcrafted Nativity Scenes are done by skilled artisans who sell beautiful miniature nativity scenes carved from wood, molded from clay or made using other materials. These traditional figures like Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus are lovely Christmas collectibles available in the Liege Christmas market.
- Walloon Dolls Traditional. Walloon Dolls Traditional cloth dolls wearing folk costumes from the Wallonia region are popular gifts. Each one has a unique handmade outfit and can be purchased at the Liege Christmas market.
- Lace Products. Lace Products using fine Belgian lacework, including lace scarves, table runners and doilies, make elegant gifts. These beautiful lace items like scarves, bookmarks and tablecloths are handmade by local artisans and available at various Liege Christmas market stalls.
- Decorated Glassware. Decorated Glassware such as glass flutes, mugs, bowls and ornaments that have been etched or painted with holiday motifs like snowflakes, holly leaves and poinsettias. These are available in the Liege Christmas market.
How to get to the Dinant Christmas Market?
There are 4 ways to get to Dinant Christmas Market. These are by plane, train, metro, taxi and on foot. Firstly, by train, Dinant has a small train station that is directly connected to Brussels and other Belgian cities. Take a train to Dinant station, which is a 5-10 minute walk from the town center and Christmas market. Secondly, by car, take the E411 motorway and exit at Dinant. Parking is available at various public spaces around the town. Thirdly, by bus from Namur, Brussels and other nearby cities to Dinant. The bus stops at the main bus station, you can directly walk to the Christmas market area. Lastly, on foot, the town is compact; you can easily walk to the festive market in the historical town center in about 10-15 minutes.
Where to stay in Dinant during the Dinant Christmas Market?
Listed below are the best hotels to stay near Dinant Christmas Market.
- La Merveilleuse by Infiniti hôtel. La Merveilleuse by Infiniti hôtel is a 4-star boutique hotel set in a 19th-century mansion along the Meuse River. It offers elegant rooms with free WiFi and a gourmet breakfast, with rates starting from €120 ($127, £105) per night. The hotel's central location allows easy access to stay in Belgium accessible to the Dinant Christmas market located 0.9 kilometers (0.6 miles) away.
- Hotel Les Jardins De La Molignée. Hotel Les Jardins De La Molignée is a restored 18th-century convent. This 4-star hotel features spacious rooms with period furniture and marble bathrooms. Rooms feature antique furnishings, chandeliers and views of the gardens or river. Hotel room rates start from €149 ($157, £130), located at 1 kilometer (0.7 miles) from Dinant Christmas Market.
- Le Cerf Vert. Le Cerf Vert offers modern rooms with Meuse River. It is centrally located by 0.9 kilometers (0.6 miles) next to the bridge leading to the Dinant Christmas market area. Onsite amenities include a restaurant serving traditional Belgian cuisine using local ingredients. There is also a bar and lounge area perfect for enjoying a drink after visiting the market. Le Cerf Vert hotel rates start at €95 ($100, £82).
What are the best restaurants to eat in Dinant?
Listed below are the best restaurants in Dinant.
- Le Vieux Dinant. Le Vieux is located 0.35 kilometers (0.22 miles) from the Dinant Christmas market, overlooking the Meuse River and serving traditional cuisine. Signature dishes include moules-frites (mussels and fries), rabbit braised in locally brewed beer and smoked salmon carpaccio. The antique interior provides a romantic atmosphere, with mains ranging from €18 ($20, £15) to €28 ($30, £24).
- L'Imprimerie. L'Imprimerie is an elegant fine dining restaurant set in a converted 19th-century printworks building with exposed brick walls and modern Belgian art. It is located 0.25 kilometers (0.16 miles ) from the Dinant Christmas market. It is known for creative twists on Belgian classics that make eating in Belgium a whole new experience. They served cuisines like duck confit topped with sweet-tart red cabbage compote, steak tartare elevated with shaved black truffle and sea scallops seared and served in a rich witbier cream sauce, with an international wine list. L'Imprimerie mains range from €24 ($26, £21) to €38 ($40, £33).
- Le Cezve. Le Cerve is a Turkish restaurant located 0.45 kilometers (0.28 miles) from the Dinant Christmas market specializing in kebabs and mezze small plates. The kebabs are grilled over a traditional wood fire to a smoky charred flavor. Their mixed kebab platter offers a sampling of different kebab meats and styles. Le Cezre ends meals with traditional baklava pastries layered with honey and nuts. A meal from this restaurant starts from €15 ($16, £13).
- Creperie Saint-Hubert. Creperie Saint-Hubert is creperie serving sweet and savory buckwheat crepes. Savory galettes are filled with options like ham and cheese or ratatouille. They have sweet crepes with serve with Nutella and fresh banana. A typical cost per serving starts from €3 ($3, £2).
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