The last time I visited the Brussels Christmas market was in 2015. Yup, right after all the terror stuff had started to take place in Belgium. I've left the post I wrote back then here at the bottom for those who are interested but now it's time to look forward to the new edition: the Brussels Christmas market 2018!
- Brussels Christmas Market 2018
- Brussels Christmas events
- Brussels Christmas markets outside the city center
- How to get to the Brussels Christmas market
- Five Things to do in Brussels near the Christmas market
- Going on a tour during your Brussels Christmas break
- What to pack for your trip to the Brussels Christmas market
- Hotels near Brussels Christmas market
- Brussels Christmas market 2015
- Visiting the Brussels Christmas market
- Pin for later
Brussels Christmas Market 2018
The Brussels Christmas Market dates for 2018 are from November 30 until January 6, 2019 and is part of the Winter Wonders in Brussels concept. The Brussels Christmas market opening hours for 2018 haven't been confirmed yet, but in 2017, they were as followed:
- Monday – Sunday: 12 – 10 p.m.
- Exceptions: December 24 and December 31 the Christmas market Brussels closes at 6 p.m.
The Christmas market in Brussels takes over different squares in Brussels and swirls all the way from the Grand Place over the Place de la Monnaie, the Bourse, and Place Sainte-Catherine or the Marché aux Poissons. In total, it covers about two kilometers. It consists of more than 200 Christmas stalls selling foods, drinks, crafts, Christmas ornaments, warm winter accessories, jewelry, and all kinds of other things.
At Place Sainte-Catherine, you'll find the Ferris wheel and some other fairground attractions. Place de la Monnaie is where you can go skating at the covered Brussels ice rink and the Grand Place is the place to be for the large Christmas tree and – most importantly – the light show accompanied by video mapping on Brussels' beautiful city hall.
Make sure to come to the Christmas markets in Brussels with an empty stomach because you'll want to try so many things. Belgian cheese, waffles, chocolate, and fries await you, but also mulled wine, hot chocolate, and fondue sandwiches are among the options.
Brussels Christmas events
1. The Brussels Christmas Parade
Every Saturday, from 6 until 8 p.m. (at least, those were the hours last year), light parades will take over the Christmas market and add an extra touch of magic to the festiveness.
2. The Grand Place Light show
Every night, every half hour or so, a music and light show takes place at the Brussels Grand Place. It's a highlight for many visitors and not to be missed.
During the light show, the historical facades of Brussels Grand Place – a UNESCO World Heritage site – are lit up by LED lights to the tunes of pre-recorded music.
3. The indoor show at the Bourse
Most people just stroll by the Bourse but during the Christmas market, you can actually go in and catch a show there. Last year, it was a 3D video mapping show sharing the history of the Bourse. At €10, I thought the entrance fee was a bit steep, though.
4. The light show at the Sainte Catherine Church
Last year was the first time I saw the light show at the Sainte Catherine Church. There were not too many people which made it easy to see the show. I didn't stay until the end, though, as it was getting pretty cold.
5. Christmas concerts in Brussels
At the time I'm updating this post (August 2018) it's still a bit too early for most Christmas concerts in Brussels to be announced. The following are already confirmed. I'll add on more as they're announced.
- December 11, 2018, 8 p.m.: Christmas Concert at Notre-Dame au Sablon
- December 16, 2018, 5 p.m.: Brussels Carol Concert at the Royl Brussels Conservatorium
- December 20, 2018, 11 a.m.: Christmas Concert at the Centre of Fine Arts – BOZAR
Brussels Christmas markets outside the city center
Aside from the main market in the historic center, Brussels also organizes pop-up events under the concept of Winter Pop. Last year, this pop-up took place in four different locations, each taking a turn one weekend after another: Quartier des Squares, Haren, Neder-Over-Heembeek, and Laeken.
These Winter Pop events are much more than just Christmas markets, though. There's storytelling, music, circus acts… and of course, there are plenty of foods and drinks.
How to get to the Brussels Christmas market
The easiest way to get to Brussels to visit the Christmas market is by train. You'll want to get off at Brussels Central because that's the train station that's closest to the Grand Place and the start of the Christmas market.
You can take the train to Brussels regardless of if you're coming from elsewhere in Belgium, from another European city or if you're flying into Brussels Airport first. There's a direct connection between Brussels Airport and Brussels Central train station.
Click here for train timetables and prices, including those for fast trains like Thalys and Eurostar.
If you know you'll be traveling from London, you may want to check if there are any Brussels Christmas market Eurostar deals. There are direct trains from Brussels Midi train station, where the Eurostar arrives, to Brussels Central.
And if you still need to book your flight to Belgium, I suggest checking Skyscanner for a good overview of flight options and prices.
Five Things to do in Brussels near the Christmas market
There's plenty to do in Brussels around the Christmas markets. Here are some of the highlights:
- Visit Manneken Pis
- Walk through the Galeries Royales Saint Hubert
- Visit the Musée Magritte Museum
- Climb the Mont des Arts for a nice view
- Try one (or more) of the over 2,000 beers at the Delirium Café
Going on a tour during your Brussels Christmas break
If you'd like to go on a tour while you're in Brussels, check GetYourGuide. They have a large selection of tours and other activities.
What to pack for your trip to the Brussels Christmas market
It can get pretty cold in Brussels in winter. Not freezing cold, but temperatures do tend to drop to close to the freezing point in December so it's best to be prepared for that and layer up.
Warm boots, a fleece or woolen sweater, and a thick, waterproof winter jacket with a hoodie (it rains often over here) are a must. Also don't forget to bring a hat and some gloves.
Hotels near Brussels Christmas market
The below are all hotels close to Brussels Christmas market that get great reviews.
Luxury option: Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo
The 5-star Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo is located at the corner of the Grand Place and boasts modernly-designed rooms in a historical setting. All the rooms are air-conditioned and have a flat-screen tv, a minibar, a seating area, and a luxurious en-suite bathroom with mosaic details.
Guests can use the gym before they have dinner at the award-winning on-site Ristorante Bocconi or a drink at the bar. WiFi is free throughout the property.
Want to stay at the Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo? Check here for more reviews, prices, and availability.
B&B option: Art de Sejour – B&B
Art de Sejour – B&B is located in a 19th-century townhouse in the historic center of Brussels. It has a terrace, which is quite nice in summer but probably not needed during the Christmas period. All of its rooms have air conditioning, wooden floors, a flat screen tv, a work desk, and coffee and tea facilities. They also all have an en-suite bathroom.
Guests can enjoy free WiFi and a delicious complimentary breakfast.
Want to stay at Art de Sejour – B&B? Check here for more reviews, prices, and availability.
Apartment option: Grand Place The Looks Apartment
Grand Place The Looks Apartment is located just 100 meters from the Grand Place, in a car-free street. It has a living room with a flat screen tv, a dining area, a fully-equipped kitchen and a bathroom with shower. There's also a little balcony and free WiFi throughout the apartment. Private parking is available nearby at €15/day.
Want to stay at Grand Place The Looks Apartment? Check here for more reviews, prices, and availability.
Chain option: Motel One Brussels
Motel One Brussels is located just a 10-minute walk from the Grand Place and Brussels Central Station. It has air-conditioned, soundproof rooms with a flat-screen tv and an en-suite bathroom. WiFi is free throughout the property while breakfast comes at a small extra cost.
Pets are welcome at this hotel.
Want to stay at Motel One Brussels? Check here for more reviews, prices, and availability.
Budget option: 2GO4 Quality Hostel Brussels Grand Place
2GO4 Quality Hostel Brussels Grand Place is a fully-air-conditioned hostel located just a few steps from Brussels' famous Grand Place. It offers beds in mixed or all-female dormitories which are all equipped with a private bathroom. WiFi is free throughout the property and guests can use the shared kitchen and living room.
Want to stay at 2GO4 Quality Hostel Brussels Grand Place? Check here for more reviews, prices, and availability.
Brussels Christmas market 2015
The Brussels Christmas market 2015 opened right after Brussels had been on lockdown, while the threat level was at 3. So when I visited, I think it goes without saying that I was curious to see what the city would be like. I hadn't been to Brussels since the attacks in Paris and was wondering how different – if different – it would look after all that happened.
Visiting the Brussels Christmas market
I drove to a parking lot near the Grand Place and saw a couple of soldiers crossing the street. They weren't alone, though. There were plenty of other people around as well. When I'd parked the car and walked toward the Stock Exchange, it was just as crowded as it always is, with people walking in and out of stores, tourists trying chocolate and street artists welcoming everyone to the city.
What struck me was how everyone seemed to be in a good mood – and in a generous mood as well. I at least saw a dozen people giving money to beggars and street performers. Is it the holiday spirit, or are people feeling thankful that the worst part seems to be over? I didn't ask and instead just smiled at the interaction between strangers.
Brussels is one of those cities where it's hard to simply do what you came to do. I'd come to visit the Brussels winter market, but before I got there I'd already checked out a few new stores, listened to a great singer and ate a delicious Liege waffle (there's no such thing as a “Belgian waffle” – but we'll talk about that some other time).
By the time I got to Place Sainte Catherine and the Vismarkt, where most of the stands are, it was starting to get dark, bringing out the charm of all the Christmas lights. I tried to film and photograph some of the stands, but it was actually hard because of all the people. It's not that it was so crowded that you had to push your way through – let's not exaggerate – but almost every stand had some potential buyers.
I'd actually wanted to buy winter slippers at the Christmas market. I'd seen cool ones when I visited the Bruges Christmas Market last week, but there was nobody at the stand to sell them to me. Can you believe the same thing happened in Brussels?
There was a stand with lovely winter slippers, but nobody there to sell them to me. I guess the person needed a toilet break. I understand. I would need one too if I was be standing in the cold all day.
But I did buy something at the Brussels Christmas market. I just can't tell you what it is yet as it's a Christmas present for my moms. I don't think I've ever bought a present at a Christmas market, but this one was just perfect! I hope she'll like it.
I'd only seen half of the stands when it started to rain, so I decided to head toward the Grand Place to see the sound and light show before it would really start to pour. The sound and light show takes place every night of the Winter Wonders Christmas happening in Brussels from 5.30 p.m. until 10.30 p.m., every 30 minutes.
During the show, the beautiful old buildings of the Grand Place (a Unesco World Heritage Site!) are lit up in different colors to the tunes of classical music. It's quite impressive and also fun when you see everyone staring up.
The show is a bit hard to film without very professional material, but I at least wanted to give you an idea of what it looks like, so you can see a bit at the end of this video I made of my visit to the Brussels Christmas market.