Brussels Christmas Markets and Light Show

Winter Wonderland (Plaisirs D'Hiver) and an amazing show at Grand Place made for a festive experience.

Brussels Christmas Markets

The Brussels Christmas Markets were the highlight of this themed mini-cruise.

For one month each year, the centre of Brussels is shrouded in twinkling lights and a Winter Wonderland, Plaisirs D'Hiver, takes pride of place in Place Saint Catherine.

Winter Wonderland (Christmas Markets In Brussels)

The centrepiece of Brussels celebration of Christmas is Winter Wonderland. At the heart of the Market are chalets stocking local souvenirs, gifts, as well as food and drink. These frame a huge ice rink which is overlooked by a gigantic Ferris Wheel.

View from the Ferris Wheel
The view from the top of the Ferris Wheel along the Christmas Market

The Ferris Wheel soars 60 metres into the sky, is 21 metres in width and is 19½ metres deep. A whopping 25,000 LED lights decorate the 290-tonne structure. At €5 a head, it is worth that alone for the fabulous view over the Christmas Markets.

The markets were always busy when I visited, with those serving mulled wine and other hot drinks most popular in the freezing temperatures.

I found a good mix of chalets. Many sold hot, fresh food and plenty of drinks. Festive gifts made up the remainder.

My top picks were the food trucks selling cones of chips (Frites), as well as authentic Belgian waffles. These cost me around €3 each, but the portion sizes were huge making this great value for money. The Frites were the freshest and tastiest I purchased in Brussels, and the waffles were handmade in front of my eyes.

Ice rink in Brussels
Ice skating at Place Saint Catherine

I enjoyed watching participants skating around the ice rink. A mix of people enjoyed having a go, from young children to adults trying the activity for the first time. A couple of real experts flawlessly weaved in and out.

Illuminated Route

Around 1.25 miles (about 2 kilometres) of illuminations connected Winter Wonderland to Grand Place. Along the way, more stalls lined the route along with an ornate merry-go-round. In total, 240 chalets lined the Stock Exchange (Bourse), Place Sainte Catherine, and the fish market (Marché aux Poissons).

The streets were decorated with bright, colourful lights. The streets felt safe to walk down at night.

Grand Place

As a gadget geek, I was looking forward to seeing the high-tech show at Grand Place. A historically and architecturally important square by day, Grand Place hosts a light and sound show by night.

Projectors beamed a giant light show onto the front of City Hall while banks of speakers boom festive melodies to the thronging crowds that gather for each performance.

Animations beamed onto City Hall
Animations beamed onto City Hall

"Electrabel Nights" featured a range of memorable characters all singing and dancing to a jolly set of tunes, each with a Christmas theme. Unfortunately, I did not take my camcorder with me, but fortunately, fellow tourists managed to capture video footage of the show.

Overall, the Brussels Christmas markets were as amazing as I had hoped for. Great food and drink, plenty of stalls, and the captivating show at Grand Place all helped make this holiday feel very festive.

  • Atmosphere and ambience
  • Food and drink
  • Attractions
  • Something for everyone


The brilliant Christmas Markets attract a lot of people and while Place Saint Catherine hosts the main event, head to Grand Place for the immersive light and sound show. The two venues are linked by a route marked with illuminations.

Read more in this series

  1. Getting to Port of Tyne International Passenger Terminal
  2. King Seaways Review
  3. King Seaways Cabins
  4. Food & Drink on King Seaways
  5. Entertainment on King Seaways
  6. Guide to Ijmuiden, Amsterdam
  7. Novotel Centre Tour Noire Brussels Review
  8. Top Things To Do, See, And Eat In Brussels
  9. Brussels Christmas Markets and Light Show (you are here)
  10. Brussels Christmas Markets Mini Cruise Review on DFDS' King Seaways
(Photo credit(s) to David Fiske)
Disclosure: DFDS kindly supplied a half board mini cruise to Brussels, including overseas transfers and a hotel. I paid for travel to and from the Port of Tyne, UK hotel, car parking, incidentals onboard, and meals and incidentals overseas. The opinions in this article are my own.

Written by David Fiske

David first found his sea legs on a cruise around the Caribbean in 2009. Since then he's looked for any excuse to get back on the water which led him onto creating Mini Cruise Reviews as a way to showcase short min breaks that sail from the UK (on ferries or cruise ships).


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