It may not strike travellers as a ‘go-to’ destination for the festivities – but the Brussels Christmas markets are one of Europe’s biggest and it’s a fun-filled, popular attraction.

Known as ‘Plaisirs d’Hiver’, or Winter Wonders, it is set in the heart of the city’s historical landmarks. The markets stretch for 2.5km through the city centre from the Grand Place to the Marché aux Poissons (a former fish market) and include Place de la Monnaie and Place Sainte-Catherine.

There is so much to see and enjoy when you visit and this article will help you get the best from your visit.

When are the Brussels Christmas markets on in 2024?

Plaisirs d’Hiver is staged across several locations in Brussels, with the main part found in the Grand Place, the city’s iconic central square.

There are more than 250 stalls, a fairground that features a Ferris wheel and an ice-skating rink.

This space becomes a festive, vibrant wonderland that also features a huge Christmas tree, an impressive light show that uses the historic buildings as a backdrop and the wooden stalls offer great food and drink, handcrafted treasures, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Brussels Christmas markets in 2024 will be held on these dates:

November 29 2024 – January 5 2025 

Why visit Brussels for its festive markets?

We can think of lots of reasons why the Christmas markets in Brussels are worth visiting, they include:

  • Festive Treats: We love a steaming mug of Belgian hot chocolate to warm us up on a cold Belgian day – especially when it is flavoured with whipped cream and cinnamon. And who can resist fresh Belgian waffles dusted with icing sugar or topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream. The markets are also the time to sample a serving of ‘mitraillette’ which is a unique sandwich of meat and fries with a dallop of sauce – a great excuse for a festive lunch! (Not surprisingly, you might see this dish advertised as an ‘Américain’). As a dessert, we can recommend speculoos, a spiced shortcrust biscuit that is a traditional festive treat.
  • Handcrafted treasures: There’s a veritable treasure trove of Belgian craftsmanship, including ornaments depicting Belgian landmarks like the Atomium or Manneken Pis, plus there are warm woollen mittens and scarves. We loved the intricate lace doilies and a must-buy treat for friends and family are tasty Belgian chocolates. There are lots of skilled artisans here demonstrating their traditional crafts, such as lacemaking, making chocolate treats and glass-blowing.
  • Festive entertainment: Visitors also get to enjoy performances by local choirs, carollers, and street musicians. The dazzling light show illuminating the Grand Place is becoming a tourist attraction in its own right, and there’s the chance to enjoy a panoramic view of the market from the Ferris wheel in Grand Place. There are also nativity scenes and impressive ice sculptures created by skilled artists to admire.

Let’s not forget too that Brussels also offers visitors a lot of other attractions and, according to Tripadvisor (whose users put the Grand Place in first place) offers these top places to visit:

Les Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert: This gallery has an incredible glass roofed arcade, along with cafes, theatres and luxury stores. The centre is, famously, Europe’s first covered shopping arcade.

  • Atomium: This is one of the city’s iconic landmarks and a unique architectural creation for the 1958 World Fair.
  • St Michael and St Gudula Cathedral: Everything royal – from weddings and coronations – takes place here. It is impressive.
  • Mini-Europe: A tad unusual since you get to tour Europe in one attraction. From the chimes of Big Ben, the Grand Place and the Acropolis.
  • Musical Instruments Museum: This Art Nouveau building is very close to the Christmas market and is home to 9,000 musical instruments.


Brussels, Belgium – Christmas Market

Here’s a great video in 4K showing the Christmas markets in Brussels.

It’s from Video Trip and starts in Grand Place – there are lots of visitors filming the light show being beamed onto the historic buildings.

The walk takes place on a Saturday and the stalls are very busy. There are some very tasty food stalls, and the weather is quite mild.

The Place du Marché aux Poissons is busy too and there’s even a champagne bar in a dome. There are other temporary bars to choose from including a ‘Chalet Artois’.

The Tower Bar is very busy, and the festive lights make this a cool place to spend time.

The Ferris wheel also stands out in the night sky and while there’s no commentary, the bustling market and happy people speak volumes.

Essentially, visitors can visit the markets easily and they are in several squares next to each other. The Grand Place and the old fish market have just about everything though the next square along has a stage for performers including choirs.

We also liked the look of Place De Brouckère where the stalls have a different look and there are more temporary bars – and a temporary ice rink.

There’s also a trip along some of the side streets and everywhere is busy with a nice atmosphere.


The tradition of Christmas markets in Brussels

While the Christmas market tradition in Brussels dates back to the early 20th century, Plaisirs d’Hiver only began in the early 2000s.

However, this relatively young market has quickly grown into a major attraction, showcasing a blend of traditional Christmas charm with innovative elements like the light show and the Ferris wheel.

It also gets very busy and there’s a popular festive parade that’s worth catching.

How to plan a visit to Brussels Christmas markets

Before you decide to rush off to enjoy the Brussels Christmas markets, take note of these tips:

  • Planning: We think it’s a good idea to visit on weekdays, if possible, to avoid weekend crowds, especially during peak season. Book your accommodation well in advance – this city is busy all year round!
  • Clothing: Brussels winters can be chilly, with temperatures around freezing. That means packing warm layers – thermals, a winter coat, hat, gloves, and sturdy boots with good grip are essential. Don’t forget you can buy a lovely woollen hat at the market to stand out from the crowd – and stay warm!
  • Currency: Belgium uses the Euro (€) but you should consider exchanging some currency beforehand or using a travel card. Many stalls accept debit and credit cards, but carrying some cash is recommended.
  • Souvenirs: Keep an eye out for unique Belgian keepsakes and – obviously – Belgian chocolates will be top of the list. You will also find a lace doily or tablecloth to add a touch of elegance to your home. There are also hand-painted ceramics depicting Belgian landmarks – including the quirky Manneken Pis figurine for a humorous touch.
  • Basic French phrases: While Dutch is one of the official languages of Belgium, we found that French is widely spoken in Brussels. (French and Dutch (or the Belgian variant of Dutch which is Flemish) are the ‘official’ languages for the city but many people also speak a good level of English). Learning a few basic French phrases will be appreciated by locals such ‘Bonjour’ (Hello), ‘Merci’ (Thank you), ‘S’il vous plaît’ (Please), ‘Combien ça coûte?’ (How much does this cost?) and ‘Joyeux Noël’ (Merry Christmas).



Here, Sophie Nadeau takes a trip to Christmas markets in Brussels with a focus on the festive illuminations to offer a great Winter Wonders guide.

The waffles look great and there’s a quick look at a shop that just sells fries – there are a lot of these in Brussels!

There’s a good guide to other things to do in the city, including visiting cathedrals for their festive displays.

The video offers a rundown of the Grand Place’s history – it’s an impressive place to visit all year round.

Sophie also highlights that the Christmas markets are good to visit during the day and at night with a light show displayed on the hour, every hour.

There are also stylish nativity creations, and the shopping malls and historic buildings are a nice place to spend time, especially if it is raining. There’s even time to visit the Delirium bar which is home to one of the world’s largest selections of beers. Be warned that this bar does get very busy at night.

For something different, the stalls in St Catherine are Canadian offering goods and treats from that country.

The video offers a good overview of what to expect – and what to do when the weather is miserable, and you want to be occupied.


How to get to Brussels for Christmas

Fortunately for UK travellers, it is very easy – and quick – to get to Brussels to enjoy the festivities.

  • Flying: The UK airports with flights to Brussels include Heathrow, Manchester and Edinburgh. The airlines offering direct flights include British Airways, Ryanair, Brussels Airlines and Luxair. We found the fares varied between airlines but Ryanair flights from Manchester to Brussels can start from £30, British Airways flights from London can cost £96 and Brussels Airlines are around £118. The flights take around an hour from Heathrow.
  • Train: Train travel is a great way to get from London to Brussels. The fastest trains take around 1 hour and 53 minutes – but some will take 2.5 hours. Fares from as low as £26 – if you book well in advance. Expect to pay around £97-£119 if you book a week before travel. Prices will be higher if you book on the day. Eurostar has 10 services per day from London St Pancras International to Brussels Midi station – and was offering a single ticket for £39.
  • Driving: It will take around 5.5 hours to drive from London to Brussels using the Eurotunnel.
  • Bus: The coach journey from London to Brussels can take up to 10 hours – though the average time is less than seven hours. Fares can be found from £17, and the highest coach fare we found was £143.

Staying in Brussels

As a popular tourist destination and home to the European Commission, Brussels offers a wide range of hotels to meet just about every need.

Budget: Slumber Party Hostel is in the heart of the city and close to Grand Place. Dorm beds for around £20 per night. Another budget option is the Meininger Hotel Brussels which is within walking distance of the markets and rooms start at around £50 per night. You should also shortlist the easyHotel Brussels City Centre which as a no-frills hotel is perfect for anyone wanting a clean and comfortable place to sleep. Rooms start at £40 per night.

  • Mid-range: Hotel le Dixseptième is a short walk from the Grand Place and the Christmas markets with rooms starting at around £100 per night; the Marriott Brussels is located right in the heart of Brussels with rooms starting at around £150 per night, with the Hotel Amigo also worth considering.
  • Luxury: Rocco Forte Hotel Amigo is a great option for those who want to splash out on their Brussels Christmas market trip. Rooms start at around £200 per night; The Hotel Brussels offers 5-star quality and stunning views of the city. Rooms start at around £300 per night. The Hotel Metropole is a historic close to the Grand Place with rooms starting at around £400 per night.

Airbnb is a great alternative to hotels, especially if you’re travelling with a group or family. There is a wide variety of AirBnBs available in Brussels, located in all parts of the city. Prices start at around £50 per night for a private room in a shared apartment.

Here are some areas with a high concentration of AirBnBs:

  • Brussels city centre
  • Saint-Gilles: A trendy area just south of the city centre
  • Ixelles: A residential and quiet area to the east but still close to the action
  • Uccle: To the south, this posher area offers a luxurious stay in a quiet location.

Also, when choosing an Airbnb in Brussels, be sure to read the reviews carefully and make sure the listing is accurate. You’ll also want to consider the location, amenities and price before booking.

Nearby Christmas markets

You could choose to extend your festive experience by visiting other Christmas markets in the region. We recommend:

  • Bruges Christmas market: Explore the charming medieval city of Bruges, boasting a picturesque Christmas market offering local crafts, delicious food and a lovely atmosphere. Take a day trip from Brussels by train.
  • Aachen Christmas market: Across the border in Germany, explore the historic city of Aachen and its Christmas market featuring traditional German crafts, glühwein, and a festive atmosphere. Again, there are regular trains from Brussels.

Budgeting for your Brussels Christmas market trip

Here’s a breakdown of estimated costs for your Brussels Christmas market trip in 2024:

  • Accommodation: For a budget hostel dorm bed: £25 – £40 per night; a mid-range hotel: £70 – £150 per night; luxury hotel: £150+ per night.
  • Food and drink: Christmas Market treats and snacks: £5 – £10 per day, casual sit-down meal: £15 – £25 per day and a mid-range restaurant: £30 – £50 per day.
  • Public transport: Fares are around £2 per journey so consider the Brussels Card for £34 for 24 hours which allows free public transport and access to 49 attractions. A card for 72 access costs £59.
  • Souvenirs and gifts: Small gifts: £5 – £10 each, larger or handcrafted items: £20 – £50+ each.

Here’s our quick budget guide for a four-day stay:

  • Flights: £300
  • Accommodation: £300 (4 nights at £75 at night)
  • Food and Drink: £150 (£25 a day)
  • Transport: £40 (£10 a day)
  • Souvenirs and gifts: £100 (£25 per day)
  • Other: £50 for museum and attraction entry (if you don’t have the Brussels Card).

Also, there are lots of taxis (which can be expensive) and Uber and Bolt rides available – fares vary.

Visiting the Christmas markets in Brussels

Brussels’ Christmas market offers a captivating blend of festive cheer in a historic setting with more than a touch of festive magic.

If you have wanted to visit Brussels, then this is a great time to do so.

With its centrally located market, delicious Belgian treats and opportunities for exploring the city’s rich history and cultural attractions, Brussels promises an unforgettable winter wonderland experience.