December 9, 2016

Explore Belgium’s best cities this winter Explore Belgium’s best cities this winter © Flickr user Richard Barrett-Small


Having lived in France for a long time, I often hop over the border to Belgium, as it’s really easy to get to by car. I love being outdoors whatever time of year, and winter is brilliant as you get to explore the fantastic Christmas markets on offer. All of my favourite Belgian Christmas markets are less than a three-hour drive from Calais, making them ideal for a day trip or weekend away.


Brussels Winter Wonders

In the heart of Brussels, the city’s Christmas market, known as Winter Wonders, takes place throughout December and brings bags of festive charm with it. Winter Wonders offers over 200 chalets, each selling brilliant festive food and gifts including handmade crafts. The market takes place at the Grand-Place square in Brussels, lighting it up with fairground attractions, a Christmas tree, sound and light shows and an ice rink, amongst events which include a live music concert on 30th November.

25th November 2016 – 1st January 2017

Drive from Calais: 2 hours

Enjoy Christmas in Brussels

Enjoy Christmas in Brussels © Flickr user Rod-20

Bruges Christmas Market

Bruges is a beautiful destination to visit at any time of year, but during the Christmas period it’s breath-taking. An early sunset on a crisp December afternoon gives way to an abundance of festive decorations which light up the Markt, Bruges’ main square. For me, there’s nothing more festive than strolling around the market, sipping a warm gluhwein and picking out some Christmas presents for loved ones back in France. There’s also an ice rink, so you can practice your skating skills within the gorgeous medieval city of Bruges.

25th November 2016 – 1st January 2017

Drive from Calais: 1 hour 20 mins


Antwerp Christmas Market

Antwerp’s main square, Grote Markt, can be found in the scenic old city quarter and is home to the city’s fantastic Christmas market each year. Located in the Flanders region of Belgium, Antwerp is a beautiful destination to visit, especially if you’re looking for an experience that’s a little different. Antwerp has several public squares, including the Groenplaats and Steenplein Square, so it’s a great city to explore on foot. The Christmas market has a 1200 metre-squared ice rink, which overlooks the River Scheldt. If you’re travelling with children, they can use the child rink that’s available, giving them a safe option (especially handy if they’re first time skaters). The market runs until the new year, so visit on New Year’s Eve and enjoy spectacular fireworks over the River Scheldt.

10th December 2016 – 8th January 2017

Drive from Calais: 2 hours 30 mins


Leuven Christmas Market

Just a stone’s throw from Brussels (about 25 kilometres), Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in Belgium. This year, in 2016, the Christmas market will run for 2 magical weeks, having been running for almost 30 years. As well as dozens of stalls selling delicious foods, handmade crafts and mulled wine, the market also has its very own Father Christmas who will be handing out gifts to the little ones. One thing that makes Leuven’s Christmas market especially memorable is that each year they choose a different charity to sponsor, with large donations being made from the profits.

8th – 21st December 2016

Drive from Calais: 2 hours 40 mins 

Leuven’s beautiful Town Hall in winter time

Leuven’s beautiful Town Hall in winter time © Flickr user mararie

Travel to Belgium this winter and explore the country’s fantastic Christmas markets, all of which are less than a three-hour-drive from Calais. With Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, you can get from Folkestone to Calais in just 35-minutes.

 

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