‘T is that time of year again. A time of celebrations, family get-togethers, way too much food, and the best atmosphere of the entire year.
I love Christmas time. What I love most about it—being from Western Europe—is that December is always accompanied by Christmas markets that pop up in every single city. Christmas markets are probably the greatest markets ever, filled with happy people drinking glühwein, schnapps or hot chocolate, eating local delicacies and browsing stalls selling all kinds of products. Everything, of course, takes places in a setting of millions of twinkling lights, dozens of spruce trees and the sound of Christmas carols. It’s absolutely magical.
I grew up in Belgium and when I was younger my family and I would visit a few Christmas markets each year in December. Our range was limited to Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg—a region in Western Europe that’s totally filled with those wintry markets. Have I said that I loved it?
Now, in this post, I would like to list my all-time favorite Benelux Christmas markets (Christmas markets that take place in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg).
5 Amazing Benelux Christmas Markets
The “Winter Wonders” festival takes place from the end of November to the beginning of January in Brussels, Belgium’s capital city. This amazing and already legendary festival includes every possible Christmas-related celebration, from ice skating rinks to a collection of atmospheric Christmas markets, sound-and-light shows, street entertainment and superb food. The giant Ferris wheel is a major attraction as well. All this makes Brussels a popular destination to visit in December, home to one of the best Benelux Christmas markets
Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Luxembourg City, capital of Luxembourg, is home to a magical Christmas festival, “Winterlights”, in December. Its Christmas markets are where you can buy everything from gingerbread, glühwein and “stollen” to handmade products and decorative items. This old city with stone architecture offers the perfect setting for a cozy and heartwarming Christmas holiday.
Maastricht, the Netherlands
A beautiful city on the Meuse River’s banks in the southern Netherlands, Maastricht is home to beautiful medieval architecture, pedestrianized streets and cozy squares. In December, the “Magical Maastricht” festival transforms that historic city center into a wonderful place to be. With its carousels, Ferris wheel, charmingly small Christmas market, ice skating rink and flickering lights, Maastricht is a perfect alternative Christmas destination.
Although its Christmas market isn’t spectacularly large, Bruges is a totally magical place in winter—especially on a cold wintry day after a night of snowfall. With its medieval gabled houses, canals, cathedral and churches, Bruges is a destination that is pretty much unrivaled by any other in the Benelux. The Christmas market is a good reason to visit this old city, but all the other attractions shouldn’t be skipped—the belfry, béguinage, city hall and canals are fabulous.
Valkenburg, the Netherlands
Valkenburg, the Netherlands, has what arguably is the most unique of the Benelux Christmas markets. The Christmas Market takes place in a Velvet Cave. About fifty stalls are placed inside the cave; you can also enjoy the chapel that dates from the 1700s, several sculptures and beautiful murals. It’s by no means the biggest Christmas market, but it’s undoubtedly the most special one.
Have you visited any of these charming Benelux Christmas markets? Or do you have any other suggestions? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!