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10 Things to Do in Brussels at Christmas

Unless you have a grinch personality, you won't be able to avoid the temptation to experience all that Brussels has to offer during the most magical time of the year. Here's what you can't miss at Christmas.

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

8 min read

10 Things to Do in Brussels at Christmas

Christmas in Brussels | ©CS Travels

Of the many things to see and do in Brussels, Christmas becomes a very active season, with activities to enjoy with the family, in addition to having many options if youvisit the city with children.

From the traditional Christmas markets to the Christmas light show, Brussels is loaded with Christmas action. Are you ready to take note? Let's get started!

1. Enjoy the sound and light show at the Grand Place

Grand Place light show| ©Steve De Jongh
Grand Place light show| ©Steve De Jongh

If there's one thing you can't miss at Christmas, it's lights, and in Brussels you'll have them all. In addition to the fact that the setting is nothing more and nothing less than the Grand Place, the central square of the city, considered by many as one of the most beautiful in the world.

It is a 360° light and sound show that illuminates the entire square and each year presents a different theme, as part of the great Winter Wonders festival , which takes place in the city during the winter. So if you visit Brussels this winter season, you won't need to wait until December, as this show usually starts in November and lasts until January.

This show usually repeats throughout the night, every 30 minutes, so you can always catch it on your walk through Brussels. Don't forget your camera to take the best Christmas postcard in the spirit of the season.

2. Participate in the "Winter Wonders" festival

Brussels Festival| ©Gaston Batistini
Brussels Festival| ©Gaston Batistini

"Plaisirs d'Hiver", in French, is the name given to the city's Christmas festivities. An event with an extensive program of cultural activities including fairs, outdoor concerts, ice skating rink and much more.

The events and attractions of this Christmas festival in Brussels take place every day from 12 pm to 10 pm. Except for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, when the activities only run until 6 pm.

Many of the activities of the festival are free, as they are organized by the City of Brussels. I recommend you to ask at your place of accommodation for a map and the official program of the festival to not miss anything and to know which attractions you must pay entrance and which ones are free of charge.

3. Take a picture next to the giant tree in the central square

Christmas tree of the Grand Place| ©Pjposullivan1
Christmas tree of the Grand Place| ©Pjposullivan1

In Gran Place, in addition to the beautiful lights, you will also find a giant Christmas tree, approximately 18 meters high. Every year, the municipality of Dilbeek donates one of its pine trees to the municipality of Brussels to decorate the square during the season.

Do not miss the opportunity to take a picture in this place and take the memory that you were in one of the most beautiful squares in the world. In addition, and being responsible with sustainability and responsible consumption, the Belgian city plants 10 new pine trees every year.

4. Skate on an ice rink

Skating rink of the Place de la Monnaie| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen
Skating rink of the Place de la Monnaie| ©Erik Cleves Kristensen

If you like Christmas movies, such as 'Home Alone', and some others that we have enjoyed this season, you won't want to miss the opportunity to skate on an ice rink and get into the Christmas spirit of Brussels. Plus, you'll do it with Christmas carols playing in the background to get you in the mood.

This rink is located in Place de la Monnaie (Place de la Monnaie ), one of the most important squares in the center of Brussels and where you will also find the Royal Theater of La Monnaie and the headquarters of the Belgian National Opera.

5. Stroll through the Saint-Hubert Galleries

Saint-Hubert Galleries| ©KoS
Saint-Hubert Galleries| ©KoS

The shopping plan can not be missed at Christmas. This route is ideal, not only to buy a Christmas gift, but also to visit a place that will also captivate you with its architecture and history. Inaugurated in the mid-nineteenth century by Leopold I, here you can find shops and terraces to have a hot drink and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.

This place is usually included in the guided tours offered in the city. Definitely can not miss on your list of things to see in Brussels. The galleries are divided into three sections: Gallery of the King, Gallery of the Queen and Gallery of the Princes, and its length is approximately 200 meters.

In addition to cafes and luxury shops, in these galleries you will also find one of the newest museums in the city, such as the Museum of Letters and Manuscripts, which has more than eighty thousand documents divided into categories such as history, literature, art and science.

So if your Christmas plan in Brussels also includes visiting a museum, I recommend you to include this one, as it stands out among the varied offer of museums in the city.

Book your tourist bus in Brussels

6. Attend a carol concert

Attending the Brussels Carol Concert| ©Alex L
Attending the Brussels Carol Concert| ©Alex L

Nothing inspires the Christmas spirit more than a Christmas carol choir. In Brussels during these dates you have the opportunity to attend concerts with choral groups that will cheer you up with the most famous carols, such as the traditional 'Silent Night'.

The Brussels Carol Concert is an annual event held at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where you can enjoy a concert by a children's choir and guest artists. Admission to this event costs approximately 20€ for adults and 15€ for children under the age of 14. The money raised each year is destined to different social works.

You can also attend the Anglican church of the Holy Trinity in Brussels, located in the center of the city, which holds an annual festival of Christmas carols, with the participation of a symphony orchestra.

7. Visit a Christmas market

Marché aux Poissons market| ©Guilhem Vellut
Marché aux Poissons market| ©Guilhem Vellut

Beyond the traditional shops, Christmas markets in Europe have their own personality, and walking through them is an experience full of magic. In Brussels you have several options to take a stroll and buy a gift for your loved ones or have a warm drink while enjoying the lights of the city.

Marché aux Poissons and Place Saint Catherine markets

Perhaps the largest and my favorite for the great variety, and where you will find a large number of Christmas booths, plus a merry-go-round to bring out your inner child, or if you are traveling with small children, enjoy some family time. In addition to handicrafts, toys, jewelry and other details, here you can also find booths with many dining options.

Try the best of Belgian gastronomy and other international alternatives. I recommend you try the tartiflette, a dish based on potato, onion, bacon, cream and cheese, of French origin and that will be perfect to accompany your Christmas tour.

Around the city you will find other Christmas markets, such as the one in the Grand Place, and the one located at the Brussels Stock Exchange. You will also find some local stalls, next to the ice rink. In general, during Christmas, Brussels invites you to stroll through its streets, where you will not be able to avoid the temptation to buy something for you and your loved ones.

Book a guided tour of Brussels

8. Escape on an excursion to Bruges

Boat trip on the canals of Bruges| ©Eric Titcombe
Boat trip on the canals of Bruges| ©Eric Titcombe

Another magical place at Christmas time and only an hour or less drive from Brussels. Taking a trip to Bruges from Brussels during this season can be a great idea, as it is a city that also illuminates its streets, bridges and canals.

The best thing is that if you visit Bruges with children and during this season, you will have many options. A boat trip or finding good restaurants where to eat will be the perfect complement to your family Christmas.

Of the many things to see in Bruges, I recommend not to miss a tour of its Market Square or Grote Markt, with its active market since 958 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Book an excursion to Bruges from Brussels

9. Enjoy a Christmas dinner in a city hotel

Hotel The Dome in Brussels| ©Adi Sagi
Hotel The Dome in Brussels| ©Adi Sagi

A perfect plan, whether you spend Christmas Eve in the city or not. Throughout the month of December, many hotels usually offer to the general public dinners with Christmas menus in their restaurants, as well as musical shows and entertainment for the whole family.

I recommend visiting The Dome, located in Plaza de la Moneda, where some multimedia shows and cartoons are projected for young children. Some hotels like The Embassy Room Brussels are known for organizing themed Christmas parties, where you will have guaranteed fun.

My recommendation is to check the agendas of hotels, bars and restaurants, because they will surely have something special to celebrate this Christmas season.

10. Participate in Christmas Jumper Day

People at Christmas Jumper Day| ©KOEN VAN WEEL
People at Christmas Jumper Day| ©KOEN VAN WEEL

A curious and supportive tradition that has crossed borders and whose origin is in English-speaking countries. This trend has also conquered Belgium and other countries. Promoted by the Save the Children organization, this playful activity invites families to wear a wool sweater with Christmas details, the more eye-catching the better, on the last Friday before Christmas Eve.

The idea is to invite people to reflect on human values and raise awareness in society in general, especially children and young people about the situation of vulnerability in which other children in the world find themselves. Some schools and cultural centers open their doors, with family programming and the possibility of making donations and gifts for communities in need.

Other alternative plans

Sightseeing bus through the streets of Brussels| ©Carl Campbell
Sightseeing bus through the streets of Brussels| ©Carl Campbell

In addition to the purely Christmas activities that I have pointed out, during your stay in Brussels you can also do the same activities as the rest of the year. However, I recommend that if you are going to visit a museum check on their website if they are closed on the holidays.

Guided tour of the city on foot or by bus

Christmas in Brussels is quite an event, so you will have a lot to see and do. If you're traveling with your family, or even alone, you won't want to miss a thing. I recommend booking a guided tour of the city, which will give you a more organized agenda to get around Christmas Brussels and leave no corner unseen.

You can do it on foot or take a tourist bus through the city, which will guide you through the must-see places on this Christmas route.

Visit the museums of the city

The diplomatic capital of Europe has a lot to offer in terms of cultural and artistic agenda. So I recommend that you include in your itinerary a visit to one of the museums in Brussels, which this season will surely have special programming aimed at the whole family.

Check the agenda of each museum and the schedules, which may change for the Christmas season. It will be an ideal plan to explore some of the most important museums in the city such as the Museum of Medicine or the Museum of Musical Instruments, and enjoy their spaces more quietly, compared to other times of the year such as summer, where the tourist influx increases.