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Our Top Christmas Markets in Belgium and Germany

By alison - November 28, 2011 (Updated: January 5, 2016)

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Christmas in Belgium.
Christmas Markets in Belgium

Christmas Markets in Belgium

As November draws to a close, around Belgium, the Christmas markets are filling their stalls with gifts, ornaments, tasty treats and spicy glühwein.

Last year, I wrote about our favourite Christmas market, Plaisirs d’Hiver, right here in Brussels. Our favourite expat Christmas traditions are rooted here. But there are lots of other holiday markets, around the country and in neighbouring German cities. Here is a round-up of some of the best we have visited over the years.

Christmas Markets in Belgium

Traditional Christmas Ornaments

Traditional Christmas Ornaments

Leuvense Kerstmarkt  -The Leuven Christmas Market is smaller than Brussels, with about 140 stands, but it’s equally festive. There is a handicraft market as well as lots of tasty food to enjoy. Each year, a local charity is also highlighted at the market, to help keep the spirit of giving alive at the holiday season. The Leuven Christmas Market is an easy train ride from Brussels or you can bring your car and park in one of the many garages in the city centre. Or avoid the crowds and take the free shuttle bus from Philipsparking. The market runs from the 9th-18th of December.

Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges

Ice Sculpture Festival in Bruges

Winter in Brugge – What could be more magical than Christmas lights dancing off the quiet canals of romantic Bruges? The Bruges Christmas market is centred around an ice-skating rink and giant Christmas tree. The chalets are filled with gifts and goodies, including Belgian chocolate, of course. Bruges is also home to the famous Ice Sculpture festival. Every year a different magical world of ice is built, near the Bruges train station. We visited the Ice Palace in Bruges, way back in 2005, and had a great time.  This year, Disneyland Paris has been re-created in ice. The ice sculpture festival runs from the 25th Nov – 15th Jan. The Bruges Christmas Market runs until the 3rd of Jan.

Village de Noel, Liege – The Liege Christmas Market was a pleasant surprise and is, so far, our favourite Christmas Market in Wallonia. The market wanders through streets and alleys, to end at Liege’s central square. There are 200 chalets with gifts, decorations, food and drink. If you are looking for truly Belgian gifts, the market sells hand-blown glass Christmas ornaments, featuring Liege and Walloon folk characters: Tchantchès, Nanesse, Marcatchou, the miner and Gilles de Binche. The market runs from Nov. 25th – Dec. 30th.

Christmas Markets in Germany

The Trier, Germany Christmas Market

The Trier, Germany Christmas Market

Trierer Weihnachts Markt  – Christmas Markets are deeply rooted in German tradition and one of our favourites is the Christmas Market in Trier. Trier is storybook pretty and the market has almost a Disney-esq quality. There are 95 booths, a carousel and lots of traditional decorations. You can buy handmade ornaments, gifts, food and, of course, plenty of mulled wine to keep you warm. The Trier Christmas Market runs from Nov 21st – Dec 22nd.

Koelner Weihnachts Markt – Cologne, Germany is Christmas Market central. There are six markets to choose from, around the city. Our favourite was the one nestled at the base of the stunning Cologne Cathedral. 150 stands sell gifts, traditional German Christmas ornaments and regional food specialities (most of them certified bio-organic). There are also over 100 free musical and artistic performances to enjoy while you shop. The market is located steps from the train station, which makes it an easy day-trip from Belgium. While there, check out our post on Nine Things to do in Cologne, Germany.  The Cologne Christmas Market runs from Nov 21st – Dec 23rd.

Have you visited a Christmas market in or near Belgium? What was your favourite? Share your experiences with our readers in the comments below.

Looking for even more festive ideas? Don’t miss our Christmas Markets in Belgium and Europe page – compete with a Christmas Market schedule.

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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14 comments

  1. Comment by Jenn

    Jenn November 28, 2011 at 12:25

    Thanks for the article. We visited the Christmas market in Aachen, Germany yesterday. It was great. It runs through three squares around the cathedral and town hall. Plenty of gifts to buy and so much food to taste. It is my favourite one so far for their variety.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 28, 2011 at 12:35

      I’ve heard good things about the Aachen market Jenn. I’ve definitely added it to my to-do list 🙂

  2. Comment by Louise

    Louise November 28, 2011 at 12:38

    The Christmas market in Metz, France – 2,5 hours drive away – is worth going for. The city center is, at the same time, beautifully decorated and all pedestrian.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 28, 2011 at 13:26

      You know, I haven’t been to any of the French markets yet, other than a trip to Paris in December may years ago. I will definitely add Metz to the list and try to get there this year!

  3. Comment by Jen

    Jen November 28, 2011 at 22:48

    HI Alison – Thanks for the tips! Especially Leuven – I didnt think of it… I was wondering if you know anything about super-local xmas markets in our area (within walking distance?) Swapnil and I dream of walking in the evenings when I get back from work, and having a gluwein 🙂 I noticed lights up in St Josse area and wondering if there is a corresponding xmas market?

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 29, 2011 at 11:03

      Hi Jen. The Leuven market is lovely and easy to get to from Bxl. As for local markets, to my knowledge, the only true xmas market in Bxl is the main one down town. The local daily markets get more festive at this time and generally offer more christmassy items but wouldn’t be available when you get off work. You best best is jumping on the metro and heading down to Place St. Katherine for your Gluwein 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 29, 2011 at 11:08

      That looks really interesting Nika. Thanks so much for the tip!

  4. Comment by Jen

    Jen November 30, 2011 at 00:02

    We are also headed to Aachen probably on Saturday – on a side note we Would like to stock up on Nurnberg sausages and German beer at the grocery store too 🙂 Will be nice to get back on familiar territory as I lived in Germany for 10 yrs prior to living in Brussels 🙂 I thought I was “Christmas marketed out” 2 years ago when my 2 girlfriends dragged me to all the markets in Bavaria before they had to go back to the US. But alas, seems apparently this chica will never be “marketed out” 🙂 LOVE the xmas markets! totally missing in the states!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison November 30, 2011 at 09:48

      I agree! I don’t get sick of them either. I rarely buy much at them, other than food but I just love the atmosphere. It so beats the crazy shopping mall experience back home 🙂

  5. Comment by Sarah Bittorf

    Sarah Bittorf December 5, 2011 at 15:03

    Thanks Alison! We went to the Brussels market this past weekend and we LOVED it! The light show was gorgeous. I actually just blogged about it today!

    We’re hopefully heading to Cologne next week!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison December 5, 2011 at 15:11

      I’m so glad you liked it Sarah! We went on Saturday night too. After all of that rain, it turned out to be a lovely evening!

  6. Comment by Life Lessons of a Military Wife

    Life Lessons of a Military Wife December 21, 2011 at 17:26

    I wanted to thank you for visiting my blog and the kind words! We blog about some of the same things, and I am enjoying your articles and your ezines mailed right to my inbox:-) Thanks again!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison

      Alison December 22, 2011 at 09:34

      You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by! It’s always nice to connect with other folks who are blogging about life in Belgium 🙂

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