The Ostend Christmas Market is a beloved annual Christmas market held in Ostend, Belgium. It takes place from Saturday, November 25, 2023, through Sunday, January 7, 2024, in Church Square, located in the heart of downtown Ostend near the North Sea beaches. The Ostend Christmas Market has become one of the largest and most popular in Belgium, attracting around 250,000 visitors yearly. It helps drive tourism and provides an economic boost to the city during winter months.
The market features over 150 festively decorated wooden stalls selling Christmas gifts, ornaments, toys, clothing and other holiday-themed items. Visitors can find Belgian delicacies like chocolates, biscuits, waffles, meatballs and seafood. There are local beers, mulled wine and other warm drinks. The market aims to provide a holiday atmosphere with lights, music, ice sculptures and more. The market’s key attractions include the carousel rides, nativity scene display, ice skating rink and children's playground. The Ostend Christmas Market promises a one-of-a-kind way to get into the holiday spirit.
What is the Ostend Christmas Market?
The Ostend Christmas Market is an annual Christmas market held in Ostend, Belgium. It takes place in Church Square in the historic center of Ostend, near the North Sea beaches. The market features over 150 festively decorated wooden chalets selling Christmas gifts, decorations, local foods and warm drinks. The market opens on Saturday, November 25, 2023 until Sunday, January 07, 2023.
The Ostend Christmas Market dates back to the late 1990s when the city wanted to provide a festive event and attract more tourists in the winter. It has grown into one of the largest and most popular Christmas markets in Belgium, attracting 250,000 visitors annually. The market aims to showcase local culture with an emphasis on high-quality Belgian products. The Ostend Christmas Market signals the beginning of the holiday season in Belgium.
When does the Ostend Christmas Market open?
The Ostend Christmas Market opens on Saturday, November 25, 2023, until Sunday, January 07, 2023. The market is open on Mondays to Fridays from 12 pm to 9 pm and Saturdays to Sundays from 1 am to 10 pm.
Where is the Ostend Christmas Market taking place?
The Ostend Christmas Market takes place in Church Square (Kerkplein) in the heart of downtown Ostend, Belgium. Church Square is a public plaza surrounded by historic buildings like St. Peter's Church, the Feesten Kultuurpaleis concert hall and the James Ensor House Museum. The square's coordinates are 51°13'25.0″N 2°55'16.4″E.
Why should you visit the Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the reasons why you should visit the Ostend Christmas Market.
- Experience the Magical Holiday Atmosphere. The Ostend Christmas Market transports visitors to a festive wonderland, with over 150 decorated stalls at the Church Square. Christmas market visitors can feel the holiday spirit in the air as they stroll the market with the sound of carols and live music.
- Shop for Unique Gifts & Treasures. The Ostend Christmas Market offers an excellent selection of handmade crafts, ornaments, decorations, toys, clothing and gift ideas. Christmas market visitors can browse stalls that sell Belgian chocolates, biscuits, beer, cheese and more to find edible treats. This provides support to local artisans during the Christmas season.
- Savour Belgian Food & Drinks. Christmas market visitors can savor the beloved Belgian delicacies like hot waffles, frites, meatballs and seafood the market offers. Visitors can drink a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate while walking around the Ostend Christmas Market. The market features seasonal beers and other food specialties to try.
- Experience Cultural Traditions. The Ostend Christmas Market offers a rich experience of Belgian Christmas traditions such as the market's nativity scene, carousel rides, holiday concerts and ice skating. Christmas market visitors can enjoy ice sculpture demonstrations and meet Santa Claus and children have access to a festive playground. This market is a hub for soaking up the Yuletide spirit.
What is the cost of entering the Ostend Christmas Market?
The Ostend Christmas Market does not charge an entry fee. Visitors can freely walk around the market area and view all the festive stalls, lights and decorations. The only optional costs involved would be fees from carousel rides, special concerts, food and beverages and activities. Rides on the vintage carousel are priced at 35 euros ($38, £31) per person and 5 euros ($5.45, £4.45) to rent skates for skating, with discounts available for families and groups. The market hosts special concerts, shows and events in heated tents, with ticket prices ranging from 15 to 25 euros (around $16.35 to $27.25, £13.35 to £22.25), depending on the performance. Food and beverages vary in price, from 2 euros (about $2.18, £1.78) for basic snacks to 12 euros $13.10, £10.70) for a multicourse meal in a sit-down restaurant and a cup of mulled wine or hot chocolate averages around 4 euros (about $4.36, £3.56). Games and activities in the children's area are also available, typically costing 12 euros ($13.10, £10.70) to participate.
What are the attractions close to the Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the Ostend things to do close to the Ostend Christmas Market.
- Leopoldo Park. Leopold Park is located 0.3 kilometers (0.1 miles) from the Ostend Christmas market. The park features sculptures, fountains and ponds surrounded by trees and flower beds. It is a lovely spot for Christmas market visitors to have a relaxing stroll during the festive season.
- Fort Napoleon. Fort Napoleon is located 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the Ostend Christmas Market. This pentagonal fortification was built under Napoleon's orders in the early 19th century to defend the port of Ostend against the British navy. It houses a museum with exhibits on military and maritime history. Fort Napoleon is one of the must-visit destinations in Ostend for Christmas market visitors.
- Sint-Pieterstoren (Peperbusse). Sint-Pieterstoren (Peperbusse) is a belfry tower located 0.8 kilometers (0.4 miles) from the Ostend Christmas Market. The tower features a 47-bell carillon and offers a 360-degree view of Ostend. The tower is one of the most visited spots of Christmas Market visitors of Ostend.
Is there an alternative name for Ostend Christmas Market?
Yes, the Ostend Christmas Market is also known as “Winter in Het Park”, “Kerstmarkt Oostende” or “Winterijs Oostende”.
What is the impact of the Ostend Christmas Market on the local economy and tourism?
The Ostend Christmas Market has a significant impact on the local economy and tourism of Ostend in terms of revenue, employment and tourism. The Christmas market generates direct revenue from vendor rental fees and local taxes/fees. This revenue goes to the city and serves as the vendors' income during the Christmas season. There is significant indirect revenue for local shops, restaurants and hotels, as the market draws more tourists who spend money in the local area. The market creates temporary, seasonal jobs such as vendors and staff to run the market and local businesses hire extra staff to handle increased customers. This helps boost local employment during the winter months. The Christmas markets attract domestic and international visitors, specifically to see the market as part of their winter trips. This boost in winter tourism helps offset the drop in summer visitors, smoothing out the high and low tourist seasons.
Is Ostend Christmas Market better than Dinant Christmas Market?
It's hard to recommend one as definitively “better”. Both seem to have their own unique draws. The Ostend Christmas Market appears larger and likely more lively given its scale, location, and duration. The Dinant Market may offer more charm and quaintness in its setting. It depends on individual visitor preferences – some may seek crowds/activities, while others prefer small town ambiance. The Ostend Christmas Market is likely larger, spanning over 200 Christmas trees and 50 Christmas chalets. It features an ice skating rink, carousel, attractions, and international food stalls. The Dinant Christmas Market on the Croisette is much smaller in scale. Ostend's seaside location and the market's placement in Leopoldpark offers a unique backdrop not found in the Croisette location in Dinant. Dinant's riverside setting along the Meuse may also appeal to some visitors. Ostend seems to offer more in the way of entertainment options and activities like the ice rink and attractions. Details were not provided on specific entertainment offerings at the Dinant Christmas Market.
What food can visitors eat at the Ostend Christmas Market?
Listen below are the foods you can eat at the Ostend Christmas Market.
- Saucisson d’Ardenne. Saucisson d'Ardenne sausage is made from 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, which is available in the Ostend Christmas Market stalls. It is a must-try Belgian food.
- Couqutte. Couque is a honey cake made with a sweet dough of flour, honey and spices. Coquettes are found in the Ostend Christmas Market and are 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 Ostend 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 Ostend Christmas Market.
- Crêpes. Sweet crêpes are a treat at the Ostend Christmas Market. These thin pancakes come with an assortment of fillings from chocolate to fruit. They cater to those seeking a sweet conclusion to their market exploration.
- Waffles. Belgian waffles are iconic at the Ostend Christmas Market. Waffles are crispy on the outside and soft inside and often topped with powdered sugar, fruit or chocolate. This dessert is a staple of Belgian culinary pride.
What food can visitors drink at Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the drinks you can have at the Ostend 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 at the Ostend Christmas market. It is usually served in commemorative mugs that you can take home.
- Fruit Wines. Fruit Wines using strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and other fruits are a specialty in Ostend. Fruit wines are often sweetened and sometimes fortified with brandy or other spirits. These fruit wines are available at the Ostend Christmas market.
- Hot Chocolate. Hot Chocolate, made from melted chocolate shavings and steamed milk, is a traditional drink available at vendors at the Ostend Christmas market that is topped with piles of whipped cream or marshmallows.
- Christmas Punch. Christmas Punch is a non-alcoholic punch combining fruit juices with aromatic spices, creating a flavorful and festive beverage for all ages. It is a refreshing alternative for visitors seeking a non-wine-based drink at Ostend Christmas Market.
What can people buy at Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the things you can buy at Ostend Christmas Market.
- Christmas-themed Souvenirs. Christmas-themed Souvenirs encapsulate the market's festive ambiance and serve as good keepsakes. Various themed mugs, candles, textiles and trinkets reflecting the holiday season are offered at the Ostend Christmas Market.
- Nativity Scenes. 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 at the Ostend Christmas market.
- 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 at the Ostend Christmas market.
- Handcrafted Wooden Toys. Handcrafted wooden toys such as nutcrackers, figurines and puzzles are on sale at Ostend Christmas Market. These handcrafted treasures represent local craftsmanship and serve as great gifts for children.
How to get to Ostend Christmas Market?
There are several ways to go to the Ostend Christmas Market. Visitors checking out the Ostend Christmas Market can arrive by train, car, bus and on foot. Firstly, by train is a convenient choice for visitors, with Ostend railway station close to the market area. Trains run regularly, linking Ostend to major Belgian cities. Secondly, by car, the market is reachable through the national road network connecting Ostend to other regions. Parking is available in the city, with specific areas designated for market visitors. The coastal tram provides a scenic route along the Belgian coast, stopping at Ostend. Thirdly, buses operate extensively, offering direct access to the market from various points within the city and surrounding areas. Lastly, visitors can be managed on foot from the city center and the Christmas market.
Where to stay in Ostend during the Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the best hotels to stay near the Ostend Christmas Market.
- The Providence. The Providence is a 4-star hotel set in a historic building from 1867 located 0.7 kilometers (0.4 miles) from the Ostend Christmas Market. The hotel features spacious, decorated rooms showcasing neoclassical décor, The Providence balances historical design with modern amenities. Visitors can begin each day with the hotel's generous breakfast buffet before setting out to discover Ostend. The hotel’s proximity to the Christmas market events makes it the best place to stay in Belgium during the Christmas season.
- Leopold Hotel Ostend. Leopold Hotel Ostend is located 1.1 kilometers (0.7 kilometers) from the Ostend Christmas Market overlooking the North Sea. The hotel features contemporary rooms filled with artwork paying homage to Ostend’s rich cultural history. Visitors praise the hotel’s outstanding friendly service and delectable dining options catering to all palates.
- C-Hotels. C-Hotels offers affordable, design-focused accommodations located 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from Ostend Christmas Market and seaside attractions. The hotel features a relaxing lounge bar to unwind over Belgian brews and snacks. C-Hotels' convenient location, cheerful atmosphere and helpful staff make this hotel an ideal base for experiencing magical Ostend this Christmas season.
What are the best restaurants to eat in Ostend Christmas Market?
Listed below are the best restaurants to eat in Ostend.
- ‘t Zeezotje. ‘t Zeezotje is a seafood restaurant located 0.2 kilometers (0.12 miles) from the Ostend Christmas Market. The hotel specializes in the catch of the day prepared and an impressive selection of wine and beer to pair with the fresh fish. The quaint ‘t Zeezotje offers diners a cozy, welcoming atmosphere decorated with a nautical design that lets the visitors experience dining inside a ship's cabin. Zeezotje lets you eat in Belgium with the freshest and most flavorful seafood.
- Bistro Mathilda. Bistro Mathilda is located 0.3 kilometers (0.1 miles) from the Yuletide festivities of Ostend Christmas Market. The restaurant focuses on serving seasonal local cuisine. Visitors can savor Belgian favorites with a twist, like North Sea shrimp croquettes and carbonnade beef stew alongside craft beers, while admiring the bistro's décor of vintage nautical charts and equipment. Bistro Mathilda's setting and cooking make it perfect for recharging between browsing the market stalls of Ostend.
- Marina Restaurant. Marina Restaurant is located 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the Ostend Christmas Market. The restaurant menu features butter-poached lobster, Dutch veal sweetbreads and other continental delights. Marina Restaurant offers postcard-worthy scenery and an exquisite Ostend dining experience.
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