Brussels Christmas Market :: Plaisirs d’Hiver

By - December 1, 2010 (Updated: January 28, 2016)

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Christmas in Belgium.
The Brussels Christmas Market

The Brussels Christmas Market

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.

Shopping at the Christmas Market

Shopping at the Christmas Market

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.

Christmas Market Ferris Wheel

Christmas Market Ferris Wheel

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.

Oysters and Champagne in Grand Place with Katie last year

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

Read more from this series...

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of 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 has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
It's after Halloween so I can officially share Christmas Markets now right...? 🎄🎅 - 1 week ago


  1. Comment by Andrew

    Andrew December 1, 2010 at 13:28

    Photos look awesome! Can’t wait to see your photos with the new lens!

    The Christmas Markets are definitely a lot of fun. Maybe we should head over to Aachen or Trier or Cologne again 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 1, 2010 at 13:53

      Thanks! I’m always up for a road trip 🙂

  2. Comment by simon

    simon December 1, 2010 at 13:40

    I can take or leave the gift stalls, but the vin chaud and tartiflette are definitely reasons to go.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 1, 2010 at 13:53

      I’m with you on that. I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything there besides food 🙂

      • Comment by Andrew

        Andrew December 6, 2010 at 12:03

        We bought Maple cookies and soap 🙂

        • Comment by Alison

          Alison December 6, 2010 at 12:31

          Maple cookies are food:) Soap… smells like food…

  3. Comment by Leopold

    Leopold December 2, 2010 at 10:47

    We are going to go there this evening… just hoping that the drive from Brugge to Brussels won’t be as bad as yesterday.
    PS; I enjoy your blog; even as Belgian, I learn a lot about Brussels thanks to it 😀

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 2, 2010 at 10:57

      Thanks very much Leopold! It’s always nice to know CheeseWeb is useful to Belgians as well as expats. It is snowy here in Bxl today but hopefully by this evening the roads will be clear. Enjoy the market. (And if you like art I have a show opening at Aspria tonight with free drinks, so you can come and warm up 🙂

  4. Comment by Lauren

    Lauren December 2, 2010 at 14:33

    Fantastic! I’ll be heading off to Brussels on the 27th December. It’s good to hear this will be there when I arrive, can’t wait to go exploring! 🙂

  5. Comment by Louise

    Louise December 3, 2010 at 14:08

    I don’t have the time to get to the Christmas Market this year so thanks for sharing your beautiful photos of the Grand Place show. Now, I can almost say, I’ve seen it 😉

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 3, 2010 at 14:18

      Sorry you’ll miss it this year. When do you guys leave for your holidays?

      • Comment by Louise

        Louise December 4, 2010 at 21:43

        We’ll be gone from Dec 22 – Jan 5 and until then, there are just too many things !

  6. Comment by Nancie

    Nancie December 3, 2010 at 23:07

    This looks glorious, and the food……….yum!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 6, 2010 at 12:31

      It’s really the best Christmas market I’ve been to. Luckily it’s also right around the corner from our flat 🙂

  7. Comment by expatraveler

    expatraveler December 5, 2010 at 02:59

    That’s what I imagine Christmas season to be like and loved it while I was living in Montreux and Basel where there were some awesome Christmas markets just like that. I do wonder why the states and Canada don’t have markets and food like that around. It’s a pure shame and well it makes me miss Europe even more. Great pics!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 6, 2010 at 12:33

      Yes, those indoor Christmas craft fairs just don’t live up to the European markets. That said, they often sell nicer stuff but who wants to be inside a concrete exhibition hall when you can be at an outdoor market instead 🙂

  8. Comment by Tu

    Tu December 7, 2010 at 20:34

    DO these stand sell belgium chocolates? Im looking to get a dozen boxes for cheap as gifts for family back in the states. I will be there on the 17th! Im a student traveling alone. Any suggestions and places to see? THanks for posting.

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 7, 2010 at 20:57

      There are many Belgian chocolate shops in the Grand Place area or you can also head to Sablon where all of the famous Belgian chocolate makers are located, which is close by. If you are looking for affordable gifts then the local grocery stores normally have a good selection of cheap but tasty chocolate too.

  9. Comment by Tavus

    Tavus December 16, 2010 at 14:15

    Oh, I love Xmas market in Brussels! It’s a perfect place to buy little gifts and drink warm wine with friends!

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison December 16, 2010 at 14:40

      So true! We just took our friends from the UK there yesterday and they loved it 🙂

    • Comment by Alison

      Alison January 12, 2011 at 07:59

      Thanks Sonja!

  10. Pingback: Expat Christmas Traditions | Expat Life in Belgium, Travel and Photography | CheeseWeb

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