Winter Wonders and Christmas Markets in Brussels, Belgium

Writer’s Note: Although the holiday season is a time for celebration in many parts of the world, we must also recognize and be aware that circumstances around us made some of these areas potentially dangerous targets. Most recently, the Berlin Christmas Markets was marred by an attack that left people dead and many more injured. We hope everyone stays safe and enjoy the season wherever you may be. 

Ever wonder how some other places celebrate Christmas and the holiday season? Ever wonder if you’ve been missing out on the fun? Mat has told me stories of how glorious the Christmas celebrations are in her home country of the Philippines, and Europe is known to have some of the most elaborate decorations and very high-spirited activities. So it was time to check out how some of these places celebrated the holiday season!

Brussels, Belgium – Winter Wonders and Christmas Markets 2016

Let’s start with Brussels, Belgium because, “MAN! THIS CITY REALLY KNOWS HOW TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAYS!” For me, it may be an understatement because I’ve never been part of a holiday event of this scale!

Brussels holds its annual holiday celebration at the Grand Place, also known as the Grote Markt, which is the central square of the city. A World Heritage Site named by UNESCO, it is highlighted with structures such as the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall), Maison du roi (King’s House), and elaborate guildhalls.

“But enough with the history, WE WANT TO SEE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND STUFF!” Yes, well, let’s get onto that.

Brussels kicks off its “Winter Wonders” celebration starting November 25 and runs all the way to January 1. The event is held at the heart of the city with a multitude of attractions. This includes a huge Christmas Market, which has over 200 shops for food, souvenirs, more food, clothing/accessories, and lots more food! Needless to say, I stuffed myself silly with a lot of food and hot chocolate *insert food coma happy face*. And this market is absolutely packed with people wanting to get in on all the action.

Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium

What also makes the Christmas Market beautiful is the multitude of light displays in the streets and on many buildings. There is also a beautiful light show called “Origami Lights”, which is mapped on Saint-Catherine’s Church, depicting and celebrating Japanese culture.

Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium

Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium

Saint Catherine Church, Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
Saint Catherine Church
Saint Catherine Church, Winter Wonders, Brussels, Belgium
“Origami Lights” Show, Saint Catherine Church



But maybe the best part the Winter Wonder celebration is the electrifying light show that is displayed in the Grand Place. With the use of video mapping and coordinating with various soundtracks, the Grand Place is turned into one of the most dazzling shows you’ll ever see! You’ll have to watch the video below for this one:

Grand Place, Brussels Belgium Grand Place, Brussels Belgium

Although the holiday spirit is very high, Belgium still remains on high alert from the terrorist attacks of 2015 (which subdued the celebration considerably at the end of the year) and 2016, with police and the military constantly patrolling the streets. Despite this, it hasn’t stopped the citizens and tourists for coming out in full force and enjoying the festivities.

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Happy Holidays! We will have another upcoming post for the holiday celebrations, including Edinburgh and Paris. Let us know what your favorite places are to celebrate the holidays!

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18 comments

    1. We were only passing by for a day, but we didn’t realize how big the Christmas celebrations were. We’ll definitely be back there for a longer trip.

  1. I recently spent Christmas In stockholm and always loving spending the holidays in a new culture. I am always amazed to see the festivities of other nations. Because of your stellar photos, I might consider going to Belgium. The festival looks amazing and the light show blew my mind. So many places to go and so little time!

    1. This was my first time experience Christmas outside of the US, and I was blown away at the scale of the festivities in many places. So, I’m thinking of spending the holidays in Europe because they all start in November, and just take the train to other countries to get the full experience everywhere!

      1. That is an amazing idea. The same goes for me. I spent Christmas abroad for the the first time this year and I think I’m gonna continue the tradition. Can’t wait to hear all about your adventures!

  2. Great job on the pictures of Grand Place. I actually made it to Brussels this winter and I was sad to hear the last day the light show happened was the day before my arrival. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  3. I’ve spent a lot of time in Brussels when I lived in Europe, but I’ve never seen it during Christmas. Wow did I miss out, it’s so gorgeous then. I’ll have to try and make it back for the holiday season.

    1. Yes, you’ll have to go throughout Europe during the holiday season. I posted Edinburgh and Paris, so you can see how they do it there. Pretty awesome!

  4. Now I understand why timing a visit is very important. I had been to Brussels, there was no festival then. I am envious you witnessed such grand sights. Very well photographed. Theessence is there.

    1. I was only in Brussels for a day, so I wish I could’ve seen more. But not too bad seeing the city during the holidays!

  5. You’ve captured it nicely, all that festive feel to it. Amazing photos! Hope you had nice time in Brussels during holidays, and got hooked by those European Christmas celebrations, hehehe. 🙂

    1. Yes, we were in Scotland, Belgium, and France for the celebrations, they do it big! Makes me want to go through all of Europe during the holiday season 🙂

  6. I am part Filipino so I love going back to Philippines for the Christmas season! I am sure your fiancee loves it too. Now that I have seen what the holiday season looks like in Brussels, I might consider going there instead! Thank you for sharing your lovely photos.

    1. Oh, awesome! She definitely raves about Christmas in the Philippines, but she’s equally impressed with Europe now. Decisions, decisions when the next winter holiday rolls around!

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