The Antwerp Christmas Market is an annual holiday market located in the historic center of Antwerp, Belgium. It starts in early December and continues through the first week of January each year. The Antwerp Christmas Market features over 100 wooden chalet stalls spread out across several squares, including Groenplaats, Grote Markt, Handschoenmarkt and Steenplein. Popular food and drinks include Belgian waffles, fries, sausages, mulled wine, hot chocolate and local treats like doughnuts. Attractions include an ice skating rink at Groenplaats and a large Ferris wheel at Steenplein that provides scenic views. Musicians, carolers and performers provide entertainment throughout the market. The market stalls are illuminated at night and the buildings in the area are lit up with colorful Christmas lights.
The 2023-2024 Antwerp Christmas Market runs from December 8, 2023 through January 7, 2024. It is open daily, with extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays until midnight. Entrance to the market is free. Close by attractions include Antwerp Cathedral, the Plantin-Moretus Museum, Antwerp's Grote Markt and the Rubens House. Top things to do in Antwerp besides the Christmas market include visiting the Cathedral, exploring Grote Markt, touring the Rubens House, trying Belgian beers and sweets and browsing the high fashion district. The market is very kid-friendly, with activities like ice skating, rides, music, sweets, Santa visits and lights.
- What is the Antwerp Christmas Market?
- When does the Antwerp Christmas Market open?
- Where is the Antwerp Christmas Market taking place?
- What is the cost for entering the Antwerp Christmas Market?
- What are the attractions close to the Antwerp Christmas Market?
- What are the best things to do in Antwerp besides the Christmas market?
- Can you visit the Antwerp Christmas Market with kids?
- What should a traveler know before visiting Antwerp?
- What are the best hotels to stay in Antwerp?
What is the Antwerp Christmas Market?
The Antwerp Christmas Market is an annual holiday market located in the historic center of Antwerp, Belgium. It starts in early December and continues through the first week of January each year. The market features over 100 wooden chalet stalls spread out across several squares, including Groenplaats, Grote Markt, Handschoenmarkt and Steenplein. Vendors at the market sell a variety of Christmas-themed items like decorations, ornaments, toys, clothing, gifts and food and beverages. Popular food and drinks at the market include Belgian waffles, fries, sausages, gluhwein (mulled wine), hot chocolate and local treats like smoutebollen doughnuts.
In addition to shopping, the Antwerp Christmas Market offers entertainment and activities to get visitors into the holiday spirit. An ice skating rink is set up at Groenplaats where people can skate under twinkling lights with the city's cathedral in the background. A large Ferris wheel overlooking the Schelde River provides scenic views from above at Steenplein. Musicians, carolers and performers can often be found scattered throughout the market. The market stalls are illuminated at night and the major landmarks and facades of buildings in the area are lit up with colorful Christmas lights, creating a magical atmosphere.
When does the Antwerp Christmas Market open?
The Antwerp Christmas Market opens each year in early December and runs for just over a month until early January. The 2023-2024 market is scheduled to take place from December 8, 2023 through January 7, 2024. During this time period, the market is open daily. On Sundays through Thursdays it is open from 12 pm to 10 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, the market has extended hours and remains open until 12 am (midnight). The only exceptions are Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve (December 24 and 31), when the market closes a few hours earlier at 6 pm. Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year's Day (January 1) have special opening times, with the market operating from 12 pm to 10 pm and 3 pm to 12 am respectively on those days.
Where is the Antwerp Christmas Market taking place?
The Antwerp Christmas Market spans several squares and streets in the historic center of the city near major landmarks like the Cathedral of Our Lady. The different sections of the market include:
- Groenplaats. Groenplaats wide square is located near the Antwerp Cathedral and is home to the ice skating rink surrounded by food and beverage stalls at the market. The skating rink has a distinctive hollow square shape with a statue of Peter Paul Rubens in the center. Groenplaats comes alive with Christmas music and lights during the market.
- Grote Markt. Grote Markt is considered the central hub, this stunning square is filled with over 50 decorated wooden chalets. The 16th century medieval guildhalls provide a beautiful backdrop. The Brabo fountain depicting a Roman soldier defeating a giant is a famous landmark here. The massive Christmas tree towers over the square and adds to the festive ambiance.
- Handschoenmarkt. Handschoenmarkt is nestled right in front of the cathedral, this small square features the nativity scene for visitors to admire. Carolers are often found here serenading the crowd with Christmas carols. Historic buildings from the Renaissance and Baroque eras line the edges of the square.
- Steenplein. Steenplein is located further west near the river, this square houses the towering Ferris wheel that provides scenic views over Antwerp. The old Steen Castle from the 13th century anchors the square. Market stalls at Steenplein have a wider variety of international foods than other areas of the market.
- Suikerrui. Suikerrui is the street that runs directly between Grote Markt and Steenplein. It served as the main sugar trade and storage area dating back to the 15th century. Today it contains neatly packed rows of market stalls under archways decorated in twinkling lights.
Why should you visit the Antwerp Christmas Market?
There are many great reasons why the Antwerp Christmas Market is worth a visit. It's a fun, festive atmosphere where you can experience and soak up Belgian Christmas traditions. The lights, music, food and overall holiday vibe create joyful memories. With over 100 chalet stalls, you can browse and shop for unique handmade gifts and souvenirs from local vendors. It's a great place to find one-of-a-kind Christmas ornaments and decor. You get to sample delicious Belgian cuisine like waffles, fries, chocolate, beer and more. The market offers specialty Christmas treats you won't find elsewhere. Both kids and adults will enjoy the entertainment like ice skating, carousel rides and exploring the stalls and lights. Families will make lasting memories. The stunning medieval architecture and decorated facades provide a beautiful historic backdrop you can't experience anywhere else. Local Belgian culture and hospitality really shine at the market through conversation with vendors and fellow visitors. It provides easy access on foot in the city center so you don't have to worry about difficult transport or parking.
What is the cost for entering the Antwerp Christmas Market?
Entrance to the Antwerp Christmas Market is completely free and does not require any tickets or fees. Visitors are welcome to freely stroll through the market squares and streets to view the stalls, lights and attractions without needing to pay an admission cost.
Of course, you will need money if you want to make any purchases at the vendor stalls, food stands or activity booths. Items like crafts, gifts, Christmas decorations, food and drinks will have set prices that must be paid for. Optional extras like the Ferris wheel or ice skating will also require payment. But just walking around the market to soak up the sights and sounds does not cost anything.
So it is very budget-friendly to experience the festive ambiance and holiday spirit of the Antwerp Christmas Market without opening your wallet. The only potential costs are transportation to get there and any shopping or dining you may choose to do at your own discretion.
What are the attractions close to the Antwerp Christmas Market?
If you're coming to Antwerp to visit the Christmas market anyway, I highly recommend taking the opportunity to see some of the city as well. Antwerp has a lot to offer, especially for fans of fashion and culture. My Antwerp guide gives you a global idea of things to do in Antwerp but if you want to stay around the Christmas market area, the following sights are very closeby.
Listed below are the attractions close to the Antwerp Christmas Market.
- Antwerp cathedral. The Antwerp cathedral can be seen from the Groenplaats and is mostly known for its Rubens paintings. Make sure to check the opening hours as it's sometimes only open for prayer.
- Plantin-Moretus Museum. The Plantin-Moretus Museum is a historical printing museum in what used to be the Plantin-Moretus printing house. It's one of my favorite museums in Antwerp and highly worth a visit if you're a book lover.
- Antwerp's Grote Markt. Antwerp's Grote Markt is an attraction of its own, although Christmas might not be the best time to visit it as the stalls will block the 360° view of the historical facades. Then again, city hall is beautifully lit up this time of year.
- The oldest house of Antwerp. The oldest house of Antwerp lies just a few minutes walking from the Grote Markt. There's not much special about it, except that it dates back to 1485 (!) and has survived no less than 6 wars.
- Diamond Museum DIVA. Antwerp's new Diamond Museum DIVA is located right on the Suikerrui and gives insight into the diamond industry while displaying a lot of shiny things.
What are the best things to do in Antwerp besides the Christmas market?
Outside of the Christmas market, top attractions and things to do in Antwerp include:
- Visiting the majestic Antwerp Cathedral with its Gothic architecture and Baroque artwork by Rubens. This impressive church was built between 1352-1521 and stands dominantly over the city center.
- Exploring the historic Grote Markt main town square. The ornate 16th century guildhalls and Brabo Fountain sculpted by Jef Lambeaux make this a must-see.
- Strolling through the harbour and riverfront area. Antwerp has the 2nd largest port in Europe after Rotterdam and an interesting harbourscape.
- Touring the Rubens House museum. See where the famous painter lived and get insight into Flemish Baroque style.
- Trying Belgian beers, chocolates and waffles. Beer culture is huge in Antwerp, along with indulging in sweets.
- Browsing the high fashion district. Antwerp is an avant-garde fashion destination with many boutique shops.
- Seeing the eclectic MAS museum along the river. This exhibits Antwerp's history as a port city through art and artifacts.
- Relaxing in one of Antwerp's charming cafes or restaurants. Grab a bite or drink and people watch.
- Strolling through the quaint streets lined with medieval architecture. Much of the old center still has picturesque facades and design.
So art, culture, history, food and architecture lovers have plenty to discover in Antwerp outside its famous Christmas market.
Can you visit the Antwerp Christmas Market with kids?
The Antwerp Christmas Market is a great place to visit with kids. Between the ice skating rink at Groenplaats, the Ferris wheel at Steenplein, amusement rides like the carousel, sweet treats like waffles and hot chocolate, visits from Santa, the nativity scene displaying the story of Christmas and all the magical lights and music, children will have a wonderful time. There are so many activities and entertainment options to delight kids of all ages. A lot of sights, sounds, rides, snacks and holiday cheer cater extremely well to families with children looking to make lasting Christmas memories together. Kids can glide across the ice while the cathedral glows, soar 55 meters high on the Ferris wheel for stunning views, dance to cheerful carolers and musicians, indulge in tasty Belgian sweets, visit Santa's house, see the baby Jesus nativity display and get excited by all the twinkling lights and decorations strewn throughout the market. With so much to see, do, eat and enjoy, the Antwerp Christmas Market is a fantastic place to visit with kids and provides an experience they won't soon forget.
What should a traveler know before visiting Antwerp?
Before visiting Antwerp, there are a few things that a traveler should know.
Antwerp is a city with a rich history and a strong arts scene. It is known for its fashion, diamonds and delicious cuisine. The official language is Dutch, but English is widely spoken. The currency used is the Euro. Antwerp is a safe city, but it's always a good idea to take normal precautions and be aware of your surroundings. The weather in Antwerp can be unpredictable, so it's advisable to pack layers and be prepared for rain. Public transportation is efficient and easy to navigate, with options such as trams and buses available. Walking is also a great way to explore the city. Antwerp has a variety of accommodations to suit different budgets, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly options. It's recommended to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Antwerp is a unique blend of history, culture and modernity, making it a fascinating destination for travelers.
Is Belgium worth visiting?
Yes, Belgium is definitely worth visiting. Whether you're interested in exploring medieval castles, tasting world-famous chocolates or experiencing the lively atmosphere of Brussels, Belgium offers a unique and memorable travel experience. With its abundance of castles, rich cultural heritage, delicious cuisine and renowned art museums, Belgium has tons of things to offer for every traveler. So, if you're looking for a destination that combines history, culture and culinary delights, Belgium should definitely be on your list.
What are the most interesting facts about Belgium?
Belgium, a small yet fascinating country in Western Europe, is brimming with exciting and unique characteristics that set it apart. Here are some fun facts about Belgium. Known for its linguistic diversity, Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French and German, reflecting its rich cultural heritage. One of the fun facts about Belgium is its reputation as the birthplace of the French fry; despite the name, Belgians take great pride in their variety of fried potato dishes. Belgium is also famous for producing more than 220,000 tons of chocolate annually, with over 2,000 chocolate shops scattered across the country. The nation is home to the European Union's headquarters, making Brussels a significant hub for international politics. Belgium's beer culture is renowned, boasting over 1,600 varieties, some brewed in monasteries by Trappist monks. The country's comic strip tradition has given the World famous characters like Tintin and the Smurfs. With its mediaeval towns, intricate lace making practices, innovative fashion scene and the highest density of castles in the World, Belgium's intriguing blend of history, culture and culinary delights offers a treasure trove of interesting facts for those keen to explore.
What are the best restaurants in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best restaurants in Antwerp:
- The Jane: The Jane is a Michelin-starred restaurant located in a renovated chapel, offering a truly divine dining experience. Led by known Chef Sergio Herman, the restaurant's menu is a creative fusion of modern European cuisine, prepared with precision and flair. The stunning interior, designed by Piet Boon, features a dazzling chandelier and stained glass windows, creating an ambience that is both elegant and dramatic, making The Jane a must-visit destination for food connoisseurs.
- Mojo: Mojo is a popular seafood restaurant located in Antwerp, Belgium. It is known for serving high quality, fresh seafood like oysters, lobster, sole, and cod. Reviews praise the bouillabaisse, fried shrimp croquettes, and fresh grilled fish. The atmosphere is relaxed and service friendly. Mojo has decently priced wine options. While there can be delays when busy, reviewers on TripAdvisor rate Mojo highly, giving it 4.5 stars out of 5 and a Traveler’s Choice award in 2022 for its tasty dishes and fresh seafood.
- SELSation: SELSation is a family-run restaurant that prides itself on offering a warm and personalised dining experience. The menu, crafted by Chef Jan Sels, focuses on Belgian and French classics, prepared with a modern touch and a deep respect for seasonal and local produce. The cosy and inviting ambience and attentive service make SELSation an ideal choice for those looking to enjoy traditional flavours in a relaxed and friendly setting.
What are the best hotels to stay in Antwerp?
Listed below are the best hotels to stay in Antwerp:
- Sapphire House Antwerp, Autograph Collection: Sapphire House Antwerp is part of the Autograph Collection and offers a luxurious and unique experience in the city's heart. The hotel's design is inspired by the city's rich diamond heritage, with elegant interiors reflecting modern sophistication and timeless elegance. Guests can enjoy top-notch amenities, including a gourmet restaurant, a spa and well-appointed rooms, making it an ideal choice for leisure and business travellers seeking comfort and style. Sapphire House Antwerp, Autograph Collection is considered one of the best hotels to stay in Antwerp.
- Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp – The Leading Hotels of the World: Botanic Sanctuary Antwerp is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World and offers an oasis of tranquillity and luxury. The hotel is known for its exquisite design, blending classic architecture with contemporary touches and its commitment to sustainability and wellness. With a world-class spa, fine dining options and impeccable service, Botanic Sanctuary provides a serene and indulgent escape for those looking to experience the best of Antwerp in an elegant setting.
- Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites: Maison Nationale City Flats & Suites offers a unique and boutique accommodation experience in the vibrant fashion district of Antwerp. The property combines an apartment's privacy and space with a hotel's services and amenities, making it perfect for extended stays or those seeking a HomeAway from home atmosphere. Each flat and suite is thoughtfully designed with modern décor, fully equipped kitchens and comfortable living spaces, providing a convenient and stylish base for exploring the city's attractions, shopping and dining.
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