Time flies… it’s already December and 2016 is almost over…

Even though we cannot say that this year has been the happiest one for French and Belgian people, today we invite you to travel to the heart of Europe for Christmas.

On paper, Brussels can be kind of bland – for a lot of people, it’s mostly known as the European Commission headquarters where everybody seems happy to wear a tie!

Except that Brussels is not at all boring…

The city is open-minded, artistic, festive and cool. My city has a soul and a story, which unfortunately, people tend to forget about. I am deeply in love with it, its narrow cobblestone streets and its very welcoming inhabitants.

If you stay here for a couple of days, you will catch undertones of a multicultural city that will change your initial judgement and will make you want to get off the beaten track and wander around for further discoveries.

If you visit Brussels around Christmas time, you’ll discover “Plaisirs d’Hiver” (Winter Wonders) market, which typically runs from late November to early January (see the dates above).

Christmas Market

At this special time, the whole city centre is turned into a magical, glittering Christmas market, centred in Grand-Place, one of the most magnificent squares in Europe, where the Town Hall is beautifully lit for the occasion.

Christmas in Brussels

When the sun goes down, the city treats its visitors to one of the most enjoyable attractions it has to offer: a magnificent sound and light show that runs over the façades surrounding the impressive Christmas tree. The city is completely transformed! All the buildings are illuminated in step with Fantasia style music. It’s a real pleasure for everyone, you can really feel the magic of Christmas in the air.

Christmas lights in Brussels

The market also covers other places like Bourse, Place Saint-Catherine and Marché aux Poissons. Wandering and looking over the golden Christmas lights around the small and narrow streets is a delightful experience. The beautiful market is full of wooden chalets that are transformed into Christmas stalls selling homemade gift items such as traditional wooden decorations, sweets, ornaments, souvenirs and many more.

Tea lights

Food of course, has an important place… the sweet aromas of cinnamon and mulled wine at the markets are truly mouth-watering.

Generally, in Belgium we are “bon-vivant”, we enjoy food and beer and many other simple pleasures.

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Dining at and walking around the Christmas Market, is a fun and interesting way to get in touch with the Belgian/French culture and their cuisine. Traditional Christmas food like raclette or tartiflette should always be tasted!

But f you don’t feel like tasting these famous cheese meals, don’t worry,  international delicacies are also represented.

The Christmas market is also child friendly. The trail (2km) around the city includes fairground attractions such as a ferris wheel, merry-go-rounds and a covered ice rink for skating! What’s more fun than that?

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So if you plan to take a trip to Brussels for Christmas, you will discover the magic that the city offers. Even if it is the coldest season in Belgium, Christmas lights will warm up your heart.

Christmas is an important tradition for us because it means gathering with our family and spending time with our dearest friends.

You’ll always be welcome to share that special time of the year with us!

 

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Aurelie GeetsABOUT THE AUTHOR – Aurélie Geets

Aurélie is an intern at Alliance Française de Cork September-December 2016. She got her degree in Information and Communication with a specialisation in work organization at Université Saint-Louis in Brussels (Belgium). She is now doing a Master’s Degree in cultural management at the Université Libre of Brussels.