Celebrate Christmas in Brussels
If you want to celebrate Christmas in Brussels, there's plenty to see, do, buy and eat!
On this page, you'll find out how you can enjoy Belgian Christmas traditions, tour the Brussels Christmas market, ice skate outdoors and take in the Christmas cheer of the Grand Place.
In Belgium, Christmas is celebrated twice: once on St. Nicholas' Day, December 6; and again on Christmas day, December 25. On St. Nicholas' day, Belgian children receive toys, chocolates and candy from Pere Noel - if they've been good! If not, their parents warn them they may receive a bunch of wooden sticks.
Melissa, a friend of ours who grew up here, explains it this way: "On St. Nicholas Day, children receive their toys and candy. And on Christmas Day, they receive a more practical gift such as a sweater from their grandmother."
Belgians enjoy getting in the Christmas spirit, so there's lots of shopping, parties and family gatherings. In Waterloo, where we live, the town hall is aglow with beautiful Christmas lights; the main street - Chaussee de Waterloo - is lined with Christmas lights; and if you drive through neighborhoods, you'll find the occasional house lit in colored lights or a Christmas tree shining through a window.
Sablon By Night
Christmas in Brussels begins with this three-day mini fest scheduled in 2012 for Thursday 29 November until Sunday 2 December 2012. This prestigious square called the 'Sablon' features art galleries and antiques shops which remain open until 11:30 pm. Explore one of the most beautiful districts in Brussels with free horse-drawn carriage rides and embark on a magical discovery of the Sablon antiques and shopping quarter. With special festive illuminations and live music.
Our recommendation: get to the Sablon early early and have a hot chocolate at Wittamer's, one of Belgium's oldest chocolate shops. Take home a box of their macaroons and a sack of their speculoos (the best-tasting speculoo we've ever had!)
Brussels Christmas Market
A centerpiece of Christmas in Brussels is the Christmas Market, whcih features 240 exhibitors from all over Europe who sell wares from wooden chalets around the Grand Place and in Place St. Catherine. You'll find all kinds of handmade crafts, Christmas ornaments and other gift items. You'll also find good things to eat including pots of moules (mussels), Belgian frites (fries) and yummy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), and Belgium's world famous chocolates and beer.
Dates: 30 November 2012 until 6 January 2013.
24 & 31 December: 11.00-18.00
25 December & 01 January : 12.00-22.00
On the Grand Place
One of our favorite Christmas in Brussels traditions was a trip down to the Grand Place to enjoy the beautiful baroque facades of the guild houses and Town Hall illuminated and dressed in festive garlands. The huge Christmas tree towered in the open air with a nearby traditional nativity scene reminding visitors what the season is all about.
However, that traditional Christmas tree was replaced this year by an 'electronic' tree complete with video screen and staircase creating a 'belvedere' where visitors can climb 19 meters high for a view of the Place. Many miss the traditional Christmas tree and its symbolism. It remains to be seen if the electronic tree is the new tradition or a passing fad.
You can see it for yourself during these dates:
Panoramic View from Electronic Tree
Dates: 30 November > 27 December (daily)
Admission: €4 adults / children - 10 years for free (min. 3 years); 15 people maximum.
Opening hours: 11:00 AM > 4:00 PM (duration of the visit: 15 minutes maximum)
All the profits will be donated to SAMU social
Sound and Light Show
Dates: 30 November > 27 December (daily)
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday: 6:00 > 10:00 PM (every 30 minutes)
Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 6:00 > 11:00 PM (every 30 minutes).Dates: November 25, 2011 through January 1, 2012.
Winter Wonders Offers Outdoor Activities
If you like a little activity in your Christmas in Brussels, you should check out 'Winter Wonders', which features a variety of outdoor winter activities including an ice skating rink, a sledding track, roundabouts (merry-go-rounds), an 'Ice Monster' and a ski track.
How To Get There
By train: Central Station
By metro/tram: Bourse (Stock Exchange), Ste. St. Catherine & DeBrouckere
By car: direction Centre
Experience Winter Wonders
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