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Bruges Christmas Market 2023: What to Eat, See, and Do!

City Guide November 20, 2023

 

 

As winter wraps its arms around the charming city of Bruges, the anticipation for the annual Christmas Market begins to sparkle in the air. The Bruges Christmas Market, known for its quaint beauty and festive spirit, is a highlight of the holiday season in Belgium. In 2023, the market promises an even more enchanting experience, offering a blend of traditional charm and festive delights. From the cobbled streets to the historic market square, every corner of Bruges is set to come alive with the magic of Christmas.

A visit to the Bruges Christmas Market is a journey into the heart of Belgian Christmas traditions. The market offers not just shopping and food, but an immersive experience into the festive culture of Bruges. The mix of enchanting medieval architecture, twinkling lights, and the joyous atmosphere makes it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience a traditional European Christmas market.

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Bruges Winter Glow

Winter Glow in Bruges is your ticket to a wondrous winter adventure, brimming with captivating moments and enchanting experiences. Step into a world where every corner glistens with the allure of the season, offering a delightful new Light experience trail that guides you through a spellbinding winter wonderland.

One of the festival's crowning jewels is the unique ice skating experience on the Minnewater, or Lake of Love. Glide across the ice beneath a canopy of enchanting decor, creating a memory you'll cherish forever.

And when it's time to warm up, the cozy Winter Bar beckons with its inviting ambiance and delightful views of the surrounding enchantment. It's the perfect spot in Bruges to savor the season's treats, especially after a day of exploring the two Christmas markets in Bruges.

As you stroll through the historic center along a charming walking trail adorned with atmospheric lighting and Christmas decorations, don't miss the opportunity to hop on one of the horse-drawn carriages. This quintessential Bruges experience adds an extra touch of magic to your wintry adventure, making Winter Glow a truly unforgettable event that invites you to linger in Bruges overnight and immerse yourself in the city at its most beautiful during the winter season.

 

What to Expect at the Bruges Christmas Market

Visitors to the Bruges Christmas Market can expect a winter wonderland. The market, primarily located in the Market Square (Grote Markt) and along a few adjacent streets, is a festive maze of wooden chalets, each overflowing with unique gifts, handmade crafts, and delicious treats. The air is filled with the scent of mulled wine and freshly baked Belgian waffles, while the sound of Christmas carols and horse-drawn carriages adds to the festive atmosphere.

 

Opening Dates

The enchanting Bruges Christmas Market traditionally ushers in the holiday season with its opening ceremony, illuminating the city center and igniting festive cheer. Running from November 24, 2023, to January 7, 2024, this magical market encapsulates the spirit of Christmas across the holiday season.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the festive ambiance from Sunday to Thursday, with market hours extending from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. For an extra dose of holiday magic, Friday and Saturday hours stretch from 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. This extended schedule ensures ample time to explore the market's treasures and savor the delights of Bruges during the most wonderful time of the year.

 

What to Eat at Bruges Christmas Market

The culinary experience at the Bruges Christmas Market is a journey through Belgian Christmas traditions. Must-try items include:

Belgian Waffles

Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, often topped with whipped cream, strawberries, or chocolate.

Mulled Wine

Known locally as 'glühwein,' this warm, spiced wine is a perfect way to keep cozy.

Frites

Belgian fries, served in a cone with a variety of sauces, are a staple at the market.

 

 

Chocolate House and Chocolate Shops in Bruges

A highlight of any visit to Bruges, especially during the Christmas market, is the famed Belgian chocolate. The city is dotted with chocolate shops, each offering exquisite handmade chocolates and truffles. A must-visit is a traditional Chocolate House, where one can not only purchase these sweet treats but also experience the art of Belgian chocolate making. Tasting sessions and workshops are often available, providing a deeper appreciation of this Belgian specialty.

 

What to See and Do at Bruges Christmas Market

Apart from indulging in delicious food, there are plenty of activities to enjoy:

 

Skating Rink

Whether young or young at heart, everyone is invited to revel in the joy of skating on this enchanting ice. The experience is made even more memorable by the Winter Bar nearby, where you can unwind and relish the unique decor while savoring the view of the rink.

With affordable tariffs like €7.00 for individuals (children under three skate for free), €6.50 for groups of 10 or more, and €5.00 for Bruges schools, the ice rink promises a delightful escape from the winter chill.

The rink welcomes skaters from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and extends its enchantment until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Special holiday hours on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve, and New Year's Day ensure that the magic continues to captivate visitors throughout the festive season.

 

Christmas Shopping

The main shopping street in Bruges, leading up to the Market Square, is transformed into a festive thoroughfare during the Christmas market. Lined with shops and boutiques, it's an ideal place for holiday shopping, offering everything from traditional Belgian products to trendy fashion items. The ambiance in and around the Market Square is lively and welcoming, with street performers, musicians, and festive stalls creating a vibrant holiday atmosphere.

 

 

Carriage Ride and Festive Tours

For a truly enchanting experience, a carriage ride through the historic streets of Bruges is a must. These rides offer a romantic and unique perspective of the city, especially beautiful when lit up at night. Additionally, festive tours are available, guiding visitors through the best of the Christmas market and highlighting the history and traditions of Bruges during the holiday season.

 

Wooden Chalet and Artisan Crafts

The wooden chalets at the Bruges Christmas Market are a hallmark of the experience. These quaint stalls, resembling miniature log cabins, house artisan crafts and gifts. Here, visitors can find hand-carved wooden toys, bespoke jewelry, handmade candles, and a variety of traditional Belgian crafts – perfect for picking up unique Christmas gifts.

 

Christmas Trees and Market Square

The centerpiece of the Bruges Christmas Market is the towering Christmas tree in the Market Square. This tree, adorned with lights and ornaments, sets the scene for the market, complemented by the historic buildings that frame the square. The Grote Markt becomes a hub of festive activity, bustling with locals and tourists alike, all soaking in the holiday spirit.

 

Day Trip and Stay in Bruges

Bruges, with its compact size and abundance of attractions, is perfect for a day trip. However, to fully experience the Christmas market and the city's festive atmosphere, an overnight stay is recommended. The city has a range of accommodation options, from cozy B&Bs to luxurious hotels, making it easy to find the perfect spot to enjoy your festive getaway.

While Bruges hosts an exceptional Christmas market, it is also worth exploring other Christmas markets in Belgium. Each market, from the grandeur of Brussels to the charm of Ghent, offers a unique experience. However, the Bruges market, with its intimate setting and fairy-tale ambiance, stands out as a quintessential example of the region's festive spirit.

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