Although I’m never happy to see the short dark days of winter, there is one event that makes December much brighter – The Brussels Christmas Market.
Known as Plaisirs d’Hiver (Winter Pleasures in French) and Winter Pret (Winter Fun in Flemish), the Brussels Christmas market runs from the last weekend in November to the 2nd of January.
The Christmas market itself is made up of 240 chalets running from Grand Place to Place St. Catherine. In these chalets you can find everything from Russian matryoshka dolls to colourful woollen hats. There are handmade candles and soaps, knives, leather goods, jewellery, handbags, children’s toys and of course, Christmas decorations of all descriptions.
When you’re shopped out, or need to distract the children, you can take a break and get a bird’s eye view of the market from the Ferris wheel. There are also two very unique marry-go-rounds for the kids. You can even take a spin around the skating rink in the centre of the fish market.
All of this excitement and shopping is bound to make visitors peckish. In my mind, the best thing about the Christmas market is the food. There are foods to take home – artisanal sausages, cheeses, breads, preserves and foie gras. But you can’t enjoy the market on an empty stomach.
Andrew’s favourite Christmas Market treat is the giant sausage. For me, it is all about the Tartiflette, a French concoction of potatoes, bacon and cheese. There are the inevitable Belgian frites, and various forms of fried dough. This year we also spotted stuffed baked potatoes, fried mushrooms and a tapas bar. All of this outdoor food goodness can be washed down with a Belgian beer or the more festive Vin Chaud (hot mulled wine).
Our favourite Christmas Market food tradition also coincides with my favourite part of the market. We head to Grand Place for a glass of champagne, a plate of oysters and a plate of foie gras and watch the Electrabel Nights lightshow.
Each year, Electrabel (the power company of Belgium) sponsors a light and laser projection show in Grand Place. Colourful images, set to music, are projected onto the Town Hall building. Every year the show is different and spectacular to watch. Here is a gallery of photos of this years light show:
If you want to enjoy the Brussels Christmas Market yourself, the chalets are open:
Mon > Thu: 12.00 > 21.00
Fri > Sun: 11.00 > 22.00
24 & 31 December: 11.00 > 18.00
25 December & 01 January:
12.00 > 22.00
The Electrabel Nights Light show runs:
Mon > Thu: 16.30 > 22.00
Fri > Sun: 16.30 > 23.00
31 December: 16.30 > 20.00
The Rendez-vous Electrabel:
Every Saturday at 20.00,
21.00 & 22.00
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