Many people are familiar with the popular Christmas markets in Germany, however there are many other great options to experience a jolly Christmas atmosphere in Europe. Brussels has not only a gorgeous main square, beautiful historical buildings and outstanding delicacy shops, it also offers an outstanding Christmas program better known as ‘Winter Wonders’. Starting from December the city of Brussels is transformed into an illuminated winter wonderland. So if you’re travelling to Europe’s capital, be prepared to be overwhelmed by some nice decoration, charming chalets selling local specialties, attractions for children, light shows and bright illumination scattered all over the different districts surrounding the Grand Place!
In the first week of December I visited Brussels for work and luckily I had some time left to stroll through the Christmas market at la Bourse and visit the Grand-Place. At this majestic square, I experienced a fascinating light show projected on the historical buildings accompanied by music. In between the buildings, I saw the beautiful fir tree that was given by the town of Riga. The Christmas tree is lit up with thousands of lights and is about 22 meters tall. It was just splendid! When walking towards la Bourse, I could smell the Glüh Wein (hot wine) and sweet Smoutebollen (Belgian donuts) coming from the stands. This is a nice area since there are so many chalets selling food and from here you get a glimpse of the Grand-Place and the light show.
The Place Ste. Catherine is very nice to pay a visit since there are nice cafes and restaurants in this area. The beautifully renovated Ste. Catherine church looks gorgeous with the light projections at night, powered by Electrabel. Don’t forget to walk to the Vismet (Marché au Poisson) which is behind Place Ste. Catherine for this is where plenty of chalets are located. You’ll be delighted by the big illuminated Ferris Wheel, light decorations, (artisanal) food and sweet shops.
Hotspots in Brussels
Like any other Belgian city, Brussels is known for its good quality food, the great diversity of beers and delightful chocolate. Here are some hotspots near the Grand-Place you should visit that won’t disappoint you:
Where to drink
The area surrounding the Sint-Gorickshallen like Mappa Mundo and Le Roi des Belges. You’ll find plenty of cheap Asian restaurants in this quarter. Beer lovers should not forget to make a pit stop at Delirium Café and Moeder Lambic (food pairing with local Belgian cheeses).
Where to shop for delicacies
Buy the typical Belgian ‘speculoos’ (crunchy crusadors) and bisquits at Maison Dandoy (Rue au Beurre 31). These guilty pleasures are handmade in Dandoy’s Brussels’ atelier, with 100% natural ingredients. Go to the quarter of Sablon to buy yourself the most exquisite chocolates at Pierre Marcolini, Wittamer or Patrick Roger.
Winter Wonders – Brussels video
Read more about Winter Wonders in Brussels, from 28-11-2014 until 4-01-2015.