Towns and cities are decked in red and gold and adorned with thousands of lights as the typical Christmas holiday atmosphere returns to Belgium. The smell of speculoos and mulled wine fills the air. Marzipan returns to patisserie front windows. It's undeniable: Christmas market season is here. Si, en plus, il neige le bonheur des petits et des grands est à son comble.
Christmas markets are more than just a tradition, they represent a break from the daily rush and a place to meet friends and family. They are places of discovery, with artisan creation and products that we only come accross once a year and, therefore, stock up on. It is in these markets that we find that perfect Christmas gift. In short, they are enchanting.
First there is the Liège Christmas market, the largest and oldest of Belgium's Christmas markets. For 5 weeks (from 27 November to 30 December) more than 200 chalets line the city's streets from the Place du Marché with its Perron, to the ice-skating rink on Place Cathédrale, via Place Saint-Lambert. Visitors discover mulled wine, bouquettes (buckwheat pancakes), hand-painted Christmas baubles, a puppet nativity and a multitude of gift ideas.
For its part, Brussels invites you to Winter Wonders. From 27 November to 3 January, Winter Wonders will be honouring foreign cultures in the shadow of the towering Belgian Christmas tree that, measuring 21 metres tall, dominates the Grand Place. An ice-skating rink, a big wheel, shows and entertainment every evening, ... there is lots to see and do and the little daily pleasures continue to the end of the year.
The little wooden chalets also return to Namur and are reappearing on several of the Waloon capital's squares: place de l’Ange, place d’Armes, place du Théâtre. From 27 November to 31 December visitors will enjoy the concerts and carol singing at the "Repère des Rennes" or let off steam on the ice-skating rink.
Mons and its "Snowy Heart" are in festive mode and focus on entertainment, but not forgetting the traditional chalets! Jugglers, illuminated stilt-walkers, fire-breathers, a musical troop walk among visitors who, if they're lucky, might bump into Father Christmas and Mrs. Christmas out for a sleigh ride. The Christmas market starts on 5 December on the Grand Place.
All over Wallonia Christmas markets offer gourmet and original atmospheres: in Thimister you will find the warmth of an Alsacian Christmas market, in Arlon the Christmas market stands for solidarity whereas in Aubel it has a gourmet character. In Nivelles the beautiful nativity scenes are a sight to behold and in Comines-Warneton on 5 December les "Mountches" dance and walk their way through the town's streets and accompany the Saint-Nicolas parade.
Some Christmas markets are also taking place in castles (Havré, Beloeil, Le Karreveld in Molenbeek, Anthisnes, Ham-sur-Heure, Fosteau Castle in Thuin ) and abbeys (Maredsous, Stavelot, Saint-Gérard de Brogne) and even in the Wonck caves!
The Christmas markts and their convivial atmosphere are back in Wallonia, find them on http://www.belgium-tourism.be