3 Christmas markets you should not miss in Belgium

Perhaps Belgium is not the most obvious destination for European Christmas markets, but the truth is that Belgian markets are every bit as good as the most famous Christmas events anywhere on the old continent. Three of the most attractive Christmas markets are in Belgium – and should be visited with the family: the children will love them.
During December, there is no shortage of Christmas markets throughout the Belgian capital, so much so that it is not always clear which one to visit. The most interesting market is not in the Grand Place (in truth, there is no Christmas market in the Grand Place – there is a light and sound show, but not an official market). Instead, you should direct your attention to Saint Catherine’s square – which is home to one of the best Christmas markets in Brussels.
Once you arrive at the square, take your time to browse the market. At the weekend there will be lots of people on the streets, but don’t let this get you down. After all, Christmas is a party! At the market there are stalls selling cheerful lanterns, colorful wreaths, and slippers for the cold weather; but the most popular stalls are those selling food. And you better believe there is a real feast on offer: with cheese, chocolate, crepes, and waffles (or gaufres to give them their French name) and, obviously, the renowned winter mulled wine. So, try a bit of everything.
Wander around, take in the scents and flavors of Christmas, warm yourself with mulled wine, and enjoy the atmosphere. Especially because during the Festive Season Brussels lets down its hair and turns into an irreverent and fun travel destination.
Regardless of the time of year, Bruges is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Belgium – and justifiably so. It is a city that looks like it is from a fairy tale, and it is home to what many believe to be the best Christmas market in Europe.
Whether you agree or not, it is a fact that the whole of Bruges gets involved in the Christmas festivities. The Christmas lights are exuberant, there are Christmas trees in the windows of every building, and Christmas decorations invade every shop and corner of the historic downtown area. And, no less important, everybody seems to be filled with the festive and friendly spirit of Christmas. The epicenter of it all is in the beautiful central square, with the famous Bruges steeple as a backdrop.
For lovers of ice skating, Christmas is also a time for skating fun.
The capital of Eastern Flanders, Ghent is a port city situated at the confluence of the rivers Lys and Scheldt. Many years ago it was one of the most prosperous cities in Europe, though today it is a medium-sized town with a large university community – a kind of Flemish cultural center. While many say Bruges is like an open-air museum, with its well-maintained historic downtown, included on Belgium’s list of world heritage sites, Ghent is said to be, above all, a vibrant city full of life, primarily because of the large student community. And it is this spirit that can be experienced all year round, including at Christmas.
At Christmas, the streets around Saint Nicholas’ Church fill up with stalls selling food, drink, clothes, and crafts. This is a must-see area when visiting Ghent, with the Christmas market having little to compare it with the Saint Catherine’s square market in Brussels. Yet, while it might be smaller, it is still well worth visiting. Despite being in the shadow of its more famous neighbors, Bruges and Brussels, Ghent is – on the whole – a truly special city. Especially in December!
By Filipe Morato Gomes / Alma de Viajante

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