Citizens of Belgium celebrate Christmas twice: first on St. Nicholas’ Day, December 6; and then on Christmas Day, December 25. On Saint Nicholas Day, kids of Belgium get toys, candies and chocolates from Pere Noel if they behaved good. If they didn’t, their parents warn them they can get a bunch of wooden sticks. Our friend Melissa who grew up here, says: “On St. Nicholas Day, kids get their sweets and toys. And on Christmas Day, they receive more practical gifts like a sweater from their grandma or something.”
People in Brussels enjoy getting in the Christmas mood, so there is a lot of shopping, family meetings and parties. Melissa lives in Waterloo, where the town hall is aglow with awesome Christmas lights; the main street is lined with lights; and if you drive through the town, you’ll discover the occasional house lit in colored lights or a Christmas tree shining through the window.
Sablon at Night
Christmas in Brussels starts with a 3-day mini celebration scheduled for the end of November and the beginning of December. This square called the “Sablon” is very famous and features art galleries and antiques shops. Get ready to visit one of the most awesome districts in Brussels with free horse-drawn carriage rides and embark on the fantastic discovery of the Sablon antiques and shopping quarter. With special holiday illuminations and live music.
Our tip is to get to the Sablon as early as you can and have lots of chocolate at Wittamer’s, one of the oldest chocolate shops in Belgium. Bring home a box of their macaroons and a sack of the most delicious speculoos!
Christmas Market in Brussels
Christmas Market is a center of Christmas in Brussels, it features 240 exhibitors from all over Europe who sell wares from wooden chalets in Place St. Catherine and near the Grand Place. You’ll find all sorts of handmade crafts, Christmas ornaments and gift items to any taste. You can also find nice things for eating including pots of mussels, Belgian fries and tasty waffles, seasonal doughnuts and world famous beer and chocolates.
One of our favorite Christmas traditions in Brussels is to trip down to the Grand Place and enjoy the awesome baroque facades of the guild houses and Town Hall illuminated with lights and decorated with garlands. The huge Christmas tree towered in the open air with a traditional nativity scene to remind visitors what the season is dedicated to. Despite last year the traditional Christmas tree was replaced with an “electronic tree”, the tradition came back thanks to the Wallonia Region. A Norway spruce arrived on November 19 and stands front and center in the middle of the Grand Place in Brussels for everyone to see and enjoy. The 17 meter high tree comes from the High Fens.
Winter Wonders Outdoor Activities
If you need a bit of activity in your Christmas in Brussels, you have to check out “Winter Wonders”, which deals with the variety of outdoor winter activities consisting of an ice skating rink, a sledding track, an “Ice Monster”, a ski track and roundabouts.
By train: Central Station. By tram or subway: Bourse (Stock Exchange), Ste. St. Catherine & DeBrouckere. Or by car: direction Center.