Belgium is beautiful all year round but there’s surely something magical when this fairytale-like destination is dusted in glistening snow. Add Christmas season into the mix and you’ll see Belgium transform into a complete winter wonderland. You’ll see vivid light installations illuminating its toy-town architecture, lively streets lined with Christmas markets, shops adorned with festive ornaments, and winter-inspired funfairs kids and kids at heart will enjoy.
If you’re in Belgium during Christmas time, consider yourself lucky: you’ll never run out of amazing things to do to make the holidays worthwhile. In this article, we’ll list down 7 fun activities you shouldn’t miss when spending Christmas in this lovely, little kingdom.
1. Belgium is a winter wonderland during the holiday season
“A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland.”
Simply taking a stroll around Belgium during winter is a delight to the senses. Tour the cobblestone streets lined with quirky shops, cafes, and pubs. The land of architectural wonder looks even more magical with twinkling lights, vivid light installations, Christmas decorations, festive markets, fairs, and of course, a little dust of snow.
It’s a good thing that Belgium’s winter isn’t bitterly cold and frozen. You can take relaxing walks or even hop on a bicycle, admiring the country’s beauty.
2. Visit a Christmas Market for yummy food and unique finds
Ready your wallets! Visiting a medieval fairytale-like Christmas market in Belgium is a must.
Christmas market stalls are set up in the main squares, filling the air with sweet scents of chocolates, waffles, and mulled wine. You can see a variety of unique finds, including local arts and crafts, souvenirs, vintage items, and artisanal products.
In between shopping, you can spend some time indulging in mouthwatering Belgian food and drinks. If you’re feeling cold, simply grab a cup of Glühwein or mulled wine that’s available at nearly every corner.
3. Unleash the kid inside of you and check out the Christmas attractions
Some Christmas markets in larger cities are not only for shopping and dining — they’re also for entertainment. You can find fairs with Ferris wheels, merry-go-round, and other rides. There’ll be ice skating rinks too. In Bruges, you can take horse-drawn carriages available in the Market Square.
4. Stay after sundown for the spectacular light shows
Don’t head to your hotel in Oudenaarde after sundown and “call it a day”. Sunsets only mark the beginning of a colorful day in Belgium, as the darkness of the night paves the way for major cities to sparkle.
Belgium comes alive at night. The cities’ captivating Art Nouveau buildings transform into an extravaganza of light, with all the buildings on the main square glowing and changing in color. The twinkling lights from the main squares, Christmas markets, fairs, and storefronts also add charm to the scenery.
Belgium also hosts a couple of sound and light shows. One festival to look forward to is the one at the Grand-Place of Brussels from November 26, 2021, to January 2, 2022.
5. Indulge yourself in tons of Belgian chocolate
Your Belgium trip is never complete without tasting their signature product: Belgian chocolate. Belgium is a paradise for chocoholics. The “chocolate capital of the world”, has over 2,000 chocolatiers. You can find premium chocolate shops, workshops, and even museums dedicated to chocolate dotted throughout Belgium.
Aside from sampling these heavenly treats, you can also try chocolate tours. A couple of shops offer tours where you can learn about the history of Belgian chocolates and how they’re made. Lastly, you’ll step out with a cup of hot chocolate or a box of homemade chocolate.
6. And other unique sweet treats
Belgian chocolate isn’t the only thing that’ll give you a sugar rush this Christmas season — Belgium offers other sweet treats you can enjoy as you stroll around the snow-filled streets. You can find warm Liege waffles, pancakes, hot Belgian chocolate drinks, Christmas Cuberdon (sweet purple cones with a firm shell and oozy center), Speculoos (traditional Belgian cookie), and more. They’re sold in traditional Christmas markets so they’re hard to miss.
7. Step inside traditional pubs with Belgian beer
Tired of the long walks and Christmas shopping? Step into a traditional pub and grab a chilled glass of Belgian beer, which is world-renowned for its quality. Aside from selling a huge variety of Belgian beer, you’ll also love the pubs for their rustic charm. Belgium is full of pubs with character, some with taxidermy, hearth, and roaring fire.
8. Explore Belgium via train
Since Belgium is a small country, it’s possible to hop from one major city to another conveniently. Its four corners are accessible from Brussels via a two-hour train ride. You can also buy a ten-trip rail pass if you’re having an extended stay.
9. Feast the Belgian way
Are you visiting a friend or family member in Belgium? One great way to make the most out of the holiday season is to celebrate Christmas like the locals.
Aside from the classic roast stuffed turkey or seafood entrées, expect to find traditional food like Yule log (a traditional cake that closely resembles a tree log with bark) and spicy Speculoos (shortbread biscuits in the form of St. Nicholas).
10. Wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” in three languages
Did you know that Belgium has more than one national language? In Flanders, they speak “Flemish”, a Belgian version of Dutch. In the Southern Walloon Region, most locals are French speakers. The Eastern part of Belgium, on the other hand, has a small portion of German speakers.
With this, you can wish someone a “Merry Christmas” in three ways.
- Flemish: Vrolijk Kerstfeest
- French: Joyeux Noel
- German: Frohe Weihnachten
And that’s a wrap! What’s your favorite way to end the year with a bang in Belgium?