Starting at the end of November and lasting until the beginning of January, Brussels’ Winter Wonders are set to entertain in more ways than one. Each year the city is transformed into a winter paradise filled with lights, decorations, markets and even a parade. The market has been crowned one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. Both kids and grown-ups are sure to get into that festive feeling when seeing the ginormous Christmas tree on the Grand Place and when wandering through the charming wooden stalls. Read on to learn all about what to expect at Belgium's biggest festive event.
Where to catch the wonders
From 30 November 2018 till 6 January 2019, the Winter Wonders events take place in a number of different locations around the city but the main highlights are found at Grand Place and around Bourse, Place de la Monnaie, Place Sainte-Catherine and Marché aux Poissons. The iconic Grand Place is decked in beautiful lights and is where the Christmas tree and nativity scene are set up. There is an incredible light and sound show entitled “Lost Frequencies”. The lights and colors reflect off the old Gothic buildings of the square, which is packed with onlookers. There are endless fun winter activities spread across 2km of the city’s streets to keep you and your travel companions entertained. These include video mapping in a Japanese style, a transparent roof for the ice rink, a completely new route for the Christmas Parade, innovative illuminations, and a tour along the “Young Belgian Artists” route. You'll definitely want to plan out your itinerary!
The magical Christmas Parade
Every Saturday evening at 6 pm and 8 pm, dazzling light parades will wind their way through the streets of Brussels, passing by the Bourse, Grand-Place, Monnaie, Sainte-Catherine and Vismet. Throughout the city center boulevards in December you may be lucky to catch Santa, his reindeer and a whole lot of other cool characters in the parade. Over 100,000 people watch this magical event each year and with good reason. More than 100 actors and dancers are dressed up as all things Christmas as they ride the floats handing out presents. Be sure to follow the Winter Wonders Facebook page for updated information on when and where you can catch the parade.
Photo © Eric Danhier
Shop around for that perfect Christmas Gift
Stroll around and shop for gifts and other Christmas specialties in over 200 traditional decorated wooden chalets, while enjoying local and seasonal goodies. You can pick up a souvenir or two from the stalls, or grab some last minute presents for friends and family. There are plenty of cool knick-knacks and decorations on display you never knew you needed. The huge Christmas tree at the Grand Place is a highlight of the winter wonders, and is often imported from other European countries. This year, a colorful Christmas tree will be donated by Slovakia.
Photo © Eric Danhier
Sample the local food and drink
Renowned for being home to some of the world’s best beers, Belgian Christmas beers are essential to any trip to Brussels. There is an abundance to choose from, but for the ultimate experience, visit Delirium. This bar is located in the older part of town and offers its guests an incredible menu of almost 2,500 beers. Their own branded Christmas beer is one of a kind and definitely worth a taste.
Oh, and one mustn't forget about waffles! The traditional Belgian waffle is served up all over the city. Visit any café or street vendor for a taste of this delicious local treat. There is also an endless number of chocolatiers spread across the city for that much needed sugar boost while shopping. Try some of the favorites such as Choco Story, Neuhaus and Belgian Chocolate Village. If you manage not to eat them all, they also make the perfect gift to take home to your family and friends.
So, eager to experience Winter Wonders this year? Book your stay at the stylish Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Brussels. It’s ideally located right next to all the action at the Grand Place and is a great starting point to exploring all the stands!
Top photo © Eric Danhier