As you will have read from Keri’s post, we’re just back from a quick trip to Belgium to check out the Christmas markets of Brussels and Bruges.
After two nights in the magical market town of Bruges, we hopped on a train to Brussels to see what Belgium’s capital had to offer.
Brussels’ Christmas Markets
The bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere of Brussels was very different to the busy yet relaxed atmosphere of Bruges. After we arrived and navigated the metro system to our hotel, we headed out to make the most of our 24 hours in the city.
The Christmas festivities in the city are spread out over a number of different sites, but they are all close together and easily walkable. The area is also near both mainline rail (Central station) and metro stations (Brouckere and St Catherine) so it’s easy to get to them from other parts of the city.
Image Credit: Mark Emmerson via Flickr
Grand Place, Brussels
Our first stop was the area around Brussels’ famous Grand Place. it was a Saturday afternoon so the area was absolutely packed. The winding, cobbled streets leading up the square were full of people, food stalls and shops. The Grand Place itself was equally as busy, with hundred of people admiring both the famous historic buildings and the amazing 22 foot tall Christmas tree, donated to Brussels by the City of Riga.
Latvia weren’t the only guest at the celebrations – guests of honour, the City of Quebec, took up residence next to the Sainte-Catherine Church, where their giant snowball installation playing host to numerous artistic performances over the course of the festival.
Seeing the Manneken Pis dressed as Santa!
Although we didn’t manage to see any performances at the snowball, we did see a parade dedicated to Brussels’ Manneken Pis. Giant puppets paraded down the street along with the costumed statue (he’s quite a busy guy, it seems, getting dressed up in several different costumes a week all year round) while people gave out sweets and fruit to passers-by.
In term of the markets, I think that the best offerings were to be found around the Place Sainte Catherine. Here a good mix of craft and food stalls were joined by a ferris wheel and fairground rides, including an impressive steampunk merry-go-round. And at the night, the western facade of the 19th century church was transformed into an ice cathedral by way of an impressive 3D lighting show.
Brussels Christmas extravaganza
Brussels’ Christmas extravaganza is certainly quite impressive and I wish we’d had more than 24 hours in the city so that we could have explored it more. It’s certainly worth heading over to the Christmas microsite on the Visit Brussels website to plan your visit – and, of course, to find out what else the city has to offer.