Antwerp lies on the River Scheldt in Belgium and is a historic port city that dates back to the Middle Ages. The city is famous for its diamond industry and in the center of Antwerp, visitors can enjoy exploring the ancient Diamond District, which still houses many diamond cutters, polishers, and traders. The city also features stunning Flemish Renaissance architecture, particularly in the Grote Markt central square in the Old Town. Also of interest is Rubens House, which dates back to the 17th century and exhibits artworks by the famous Flemish Baroque painter, Peter Paul Rubens. Museum aan de Stroom explores the heritage of Antwerp. The kids will love Zoo Antwerpen, a popular animal park which dates back to 1843. In case you don’t know where to stay in Antwerp for your holiday trip, take a look at the top Airbnb vacation rentals in the city. The festive season is also popular when locals and visitors can enjoy some of the most delightful Christmas markets in and near Antwerp, Belgium. Scroll down to see details.
1. Grote Christmas Market (kerstmarkt Antwerpen)
In years gone by, the Antwerp Christmas Market used to be a small and cozy affair, but gradually over the years, it has grown, with now around 100 stalls to be discovered and browsed. To make space, the market now stretches all the way from Groenplaats, close to Handschoenmarkt, through Suikerrui and Steenplein, to the Market Square. Along the way visitors can browse the stalls, choosing from traditional Belgian gift items, arts and crafts, knitted gloves and scarves, toys, and delicious local Christmas snacks. Relax for a while with a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of the local mulled wine (Glühwein). It should be noted that the annual ice rink is located close to Groenplaats and the city’s Christmas lights follow you all the way from Central Station to Scheldt quays.
Grote Christmas Market
Address: Groenplaats, Grote Markt, Suikerrui, Steenplein, Antwerp, Belgium
Website: Grote Christmas Market
Opening hours: December 8 - January 6: Mon - Thu: 12pm - 9pm; Fri: 12pm - 11pm; Sat: 11am - 11pm; Sun: 11pm - 9pm, except on December 24 and 31: 11am - 6pm
Nearby Christmas markets
2. Winter Wonders and Christmas Market Brussels
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
One of the most awaited holiday events in Brussels, and in all of Europe, is Winter Wonders. Not only does it feature a Christmas market with over 200 shops, cultural activities and grandiose decorations also grace visitors with their presence. Kids (and adults!) are welcome to enjoy themselves on the ice skating rink. You’ll get to try exquisite Belgian Christmas beers and the ever-famous waffles made extra special just for the holiday season. Over 100,000 visitors race to Brussels annually just to experience this truly magical experience!
Address: Dansaert, 1000, Belgium
Website: Winter Wonders
3. Mechelen Christmas Market
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
A quick train ride from Antwerp is the lesser-known but equally enchanting city of Mechelen, home to Mechelen Christmas Market. The city center’s cobblestone roads complement its old architecture, and together they make such an inviting holiday ground for visitors. Flashy Christmas lights and life-size nativity scenes are showcased throughout the streets. Make your way to the less-traveled parts of Belgium. Mechelen is a perfect day trip from either Antwerp or Brussels that will surely amp up your holiday spirit!
Mechelen Christmas Market
Address: Mechelen Christmas Market
Website: Mechelen Christmas Market
4. Ghent Christmas Market
Ghent turns into a winter wonderland over the festive season, with over 150 wooden huts nestling along the Botermarket and Klein Turkije from Sint-Baafsplein through to Korenmarkt. Visitors of Ghent Christmas Market can choose from a range of hand-crafted gifts, decorations, toys, knitwear, traditional snacks, and mulled wine. An ice skating rink is laid out under the City Pavilion and more fun can be had on the giant Ferris wheel in front of St. Bavo’s Cathedral. A ride on the Ferris wheel offers beautiful, panoramic views over Ghent and the Christmas lights.
Ghent Christmas Market
Address: Sint-Baafsplein to Korenmarkt, Ghent, Belgium
Website: Ghent Christmas Market
Dates: December 14 - January 6
5. Bruges Christmas Market
Each year, Bruges features a beautiful Christmas Market on Market Square and Simon Stevinplein, with a fun ice rink. Known as the Grote Markt, a series of quaint wooden chalets line up around the ice rink selling traditional local arts and crafts, knitwear, toys, jewelry, tasty festive snacks and more. Enjoy stunning views over the city and its Christmas lights from the belfry of the church in the square. The second, smaller market in Simon Stevinplein is a worthy visit, with a number of chocolatiers and cafes along the way. Among the delicious snacks enjoyable during the season are creamy hot chocolate drinks, a beautifully decorated chocolate Yule log and the local gin, or jenever, which is delicious when laced in a mug of hot cocoa.
Bruges Christmas Market
Address: Market Square, Bruges, Belgium
Website: Bruges Christmas Market
Opening hours: November 22 - January 5: Mon - Thu: 10:30am - 10:30pm; Fri - Sat: 10:30am - 11pm; Sun: 10:30am - 10:30pm
6. Hasselt Winterland and Christmas Market
Every year, Hasselt turns into a winterland over the festive season. What started out as a small Christmas market has now turned into a winter village. 80 stalls offer a range of traditional gifts, souvenirs, arts and crafts, decorations, and tasty Christmas snacks, including 11 stalls from other countries. Winterland runs through the city, along the main shopping streets and ends up in Grote Markt. The main attraction is the Grand Cafe where Belgium’s Christmas food and drink can be enjoyed along with entertainment in the way of music and dancing. The indoor ice rink is a perfect place to have fun, out of the chill of the seasonal weather. When feeling hungry, there is a choice of German bratwurst, Spanish churros with chocolate, Liege waffles, Belgian fries, Flemish beignets, Finnish Flammlachs and a soup bar. Drinks include hot chocolate, mulled wine, and jenever (gin). Kids can have fun at Santa’s House where they will receive a free gift.
Hasselt Christmas Market
Address: City center, Hasselt, Belgium
Website: Hasselt Christmas Market
Opening hours: November 23 - January 5: Mon - Thu: 12pm - 10pm; Fri - Sun: 11am - 10pm
7. Wavre Christmas Market
The Christmas market in Wavre is mainly about delicious things to eat and drink over the festive period. Numerous stalls offer tea and coffee, mulled wine and liquor, real Belgian waffles, beignets, cheese, oysters, and snails. There are also a few craftsmen selling their wares at the market, including woodwork, toys, seasonal decorations, homeware, and more. Close to the market, visitors can enjoy the ice skating rink. Over the Christmas market period, a program of musical entertainment is offered.
Wavre Christmas Market
Address: Hooverplein and Laudeuzeplein, Wavre, Belgium
Website: Wavre Christmas Market
Opening hours: December 7 - January 5: Wed: 10am - 5pm; Thu: 5pm - 8pm; Fri: 5pm - 10pm; Sat: 11am - 10pm (closed on Mon & Tue)
8. Leuven Christmas Market
Leuven is smaller than most Belgian cities, but its Christmas market still manages to offer around 170 pretty stalls selling souvenirs, traditional Christmas gifts, hand-made arts and crafts, toys, knitted items, interior decor items, jewelry, Christmas decorations and more. Other stalls sell local traditional snacks and drinks, including beignets, the famous Belgian hot chocolate, mulled wine, and jenever.
Leuven Christmas Market
Address: Hooverplein and Laudeuzeplein, Leuven, Belgium
Website: Leuven Christmas Market
Opening hours: December 11 - December 21: Mon - Wed: 12pm - 10pm; Thu - Fri: 12pm - 11pm; Sat: 11am - 11pm; Sun: 11am - 10pm; December 22: 11am - 8pm
Merry Christmas in Belgium
There is more than one way to wish people a Merry Christmas in Belgium, including the French “Joyeux Noel,” the German “Frohe Weihnachten,” the Dutch/Flemish “Vrolijk Kerstfeest” and last, but not least, in the Walloon language it is “Djoyeus Noyé.” Practice up for your visit to the most delightful Christmas markets in and amp up your Antwerp Christmas!
Editor’s Note: Due to Covid-19, the business hours of these may differ from the stated timings in this article. Please be sure to check the updated hours from the websites.
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