Come crisp winter days, give in to that warm, fuzzy feeling during Christmas in Bruges. The pretty medieval city takes on fairytale airs as the temperatures drop. The intoxicating scent of fresh waffles lingers in Bruges Christmas market, and the streets are dressed like gingerbread houses with festive fairy lights reflected in the canal. Bruges is a magical Eurostar Christmas destination. Hop on a horse-drawn carriage for a snow-dusted tour of the cobbles, or linger in one of Europe’s most charming Christmas markets.
Get into the festive spirit and visit the Bruges Christmas market 2022 which runs from 25 November 2022 to 8 January 2023.
A Christmas break in Bruges is closer than you think, at only 3 hours 30 minutes from London, with a quick change in Brussels, and you'll find yourself at the next best thing to Santa’s grotto.
Bruges is arguably the best Christmas market in Belgium, if not Europe. The whole city turns into a fairytale destination, filled with Christmas trees and fairy lights and scents of buttery waffles and hot chocolate.
Bruges Christmas market celebrations are known as ‘Winter Glow’, which focuses on things to do in Bruges in winter and not just on the market alone. It includes the Bruges Christmas market, ice skating, the light experience trail and light decorations throughout the city. It’s an inclusive celebration, open to all religions and brings the whole city together.
As Bruges is a small city, you won’t find the big fairground attractions that you would at the Brussels Christmas market. But you will, however, find in Bruges the most Christmassy, cosy and intimate atmosphere of all the Belgium Christmas markets.
The main Bruges Christmas market is in Grote Markt, with its pretty, wooden chalets surrounding a glittering ice rink, where skaters swish and stumble in the shadow of the 83m-high belfry. If you can face the 366 steps to the bells at the top, you'll be rewarded with stunning views of the chocolate-box city below.
There’s another smaller Christmas market in Bruges, near tree-lined Simon Stevinplein but, with no shortage of tempting chocolatiers and cosy cafés en route, the short walk might take longer than you'd expect.
If you’ve over-indulged, a brisk walk in nearby Minnewater will help blow away the cobwebs and work up an appetite for the next course: a plate of warm, crisp kroketten made with shrimp or gorgeously oozing cheese. Perfect for a quick pit-stop before the serious business of shopping begins at the Christmas market in Bruges.
There’s a reason why this fairytale city is a favourite winter destination, as Bruges in winter is remarkable, with the best Christmas market in Belgium and some wonderful Christmas festive traditions, from St Nicolas arriving by boat to the traditional Yule Christmas chocolate log. Bruges has it all.
Lucky little Belgians get not one, but two generous holidays. Old Saint Nick – Sinterklaas in Flemish – makes his grand entrance by boat on the last sunday of November, before disappearing again after his gift-giving round on 6 December. Beware if you’ve been naughty: according to tradition, guilty offenders get stuffed in a sack and whisked off to Spain.
Bruges’s winter fare is hard to resist – ’tis, after all, the season to be greedy. In a city famed for its chocolate, indulge in a slice of artfully decorated yule log, or a creamy, cockle-warming hot chocolate. A sip of jenever, the local gin, is sure to lift the spirits: stop by Bacchus Cornelius to stock up on a homemade, velvety cocoa-laced version.
Get an all-seasons dose of Christmas spirit in one of Bruges’s festive bauble shops. With its rough-hewn stone arches and evergreen Christmas trees, De Witte Pelikaan is the prettiest of these. There’s something for every budget, from novelty decorations to delicate hand-blown ornaments. Dressed like an oversized snowball, the shop window is worth the detour alone.