From: Friday, November 24, 2023
To: Sunday, January 7, 2024
Bruges Christmas Market & Winter Glow 2023
Bruges comes alive in December with the scent of fresh waffles, twinkling fairy lights, and snow-dusted cobble streets as the annual Christmas market returns to one of Europe’s prettiest Medieval cities.
- Visiting Bruges for Christmas? Book your stay early as hotels close to the Christmas Markets fill up fast. The Hotel Van Cleef is rated “Exceptional” by guests and is just 600m from the markets, offering guests an idyllic location, superb service and wonderful breakfasts.
- Winter Glow is the name given to all of Bruges’ winter activities, including the market, light experience trail, ice skating and festive shopping; all the ingredients that transform Bruges into a Christmas village.
- The city of Bruges is the perfect European Christmas escape. Known as the Venice of Belgium, the city’s buildings resemble gingerbread houses surrounded by canals.
- The fairytale celebrations known as “Winter Glow” transform Bruges into an intimate and romantic destination within easy reach of Europe’s busiest airports. And it’s just three and a half hours from London via Eurostar.
- Grote Markt (or Market Square), the main Christmas market in Bruges, is home to a Christmas village of beautifully decorated wooden chalets.
- The market lies at the foot of Bruges 83m-high belfry tower offering stunning views of the city below. Work off some glühwein as you take 366 steps to the top; the view is more than worth the effort.
- Grote Markt opens daily from 10 am to 11 pm and remains open throughout the Christmas holidays, making it the perfect romantic escape over Christmas and New Year.
- Take a photo by the Christmas tree to the east of the market on your way to Rozenhoedkaai (Rosary Quay), one of the most famous photo spots in the city.
- Weekends in the markets are jam-packed, so if you want a calmer experience, try a weekday visit. At night, the city is more relaxed as the day-trippers leave, and the city takes on a more fairytale-like atmosphere.
- Grote Markt offers a wide array of gifts from nutcrackers, candles and manger scenes to toys and hand-blown glass ornaments. It is also home to a wide range of food stands offering delicious sausages, tartiflette, glühwein (mulled wine) and Belgian waffles.
- Home to a smaller market close to Grote Markt, the tree-lined Simon Stevinplein square is the perfect place for a pit stop in one of Bruges’ many charming cafes and classic chocolatiers. It is located just off the main shopping street.
- The market features several carnival-like stands featuring games where you can win prizes.
- Enjoy something more substantial and sample some crisp kroketten (a croquette) made with shrimp or cheese.
- End your afternoon with a glass of jenever, the local gin. For a treat, bring home a bottle of the Cocao infused edition at Bacchus Cornelius, the Belgian bear Shop, just off the main square. Chocolate lovers can indulge in delicious treats at The Old Chocolate House. head upstairs and indulge in some decadent hot chocolate and escape the cold and the crowds.
- Book your stay at the Boutqiue Hotel Sablon, just steps from the market, offering guests a “Superb” experience featuring stylish rooms with balcony views.
- Located on the Southern end of the city centre, the ice skating rink at Minnewater or “Lake of love” is home to the famous Vorst Winter Bar; perfect for some après-skate time, a warm drink, and a delicious snack. Thousands of lights make this a magical place to spend an evening.
- Stay close to Minnewater at the Boutiquehotel ‘t Fraeyhuis, rated “Superb” by guests, offering an aduluts-only accommodation with spacious rooms, garden views and excellent location.
Light Experience Trail
- Explore the city’s various light installations on the Winter Glow trail. The light experience is lit each night from 5 pm until midnight.
- The Light Experience Trail features 14 impressive light and world installations across the city, magically lighting squares and monuments.
Saint Nicholas Day
- November 27th and December 6th – Celebrate the arrival of St Nicholas in Bruges. Old Saint Nick, Sinterklaas in Flemish, makes his grand entrance by boat on the last Sunday of November and then returns on December 6th.
- No trip to Bruges is complete without a visit to De Witte Pelikaan, a year-round Christmas store selling beautiful baubles and Christmas decorations in an enchanted setting.
- The showpiece of the store is undoubtedly the shop window, resembling a vast, magical snowball: fairy-like, idyllic and fascinating. The store is open every day from 10 am until 5 pm.
Bruges by horse-drawn carriage
- Set aside half an hour to take a romantic carriage ride around the historic streets, through age-old squares and over charming bridges. During the ride your coachman can give you expert explanations and around halfway round the horse and carriage make a short stop at the Beguinage. You’ll find the departure point in the Market Square (or in Burg Square on market days).
- Bruges hosts several concerts and special events around the holidays at the Concertgebouw, including special editions of Handel’s Messiah and other Christmas-themed presentations.
- The international music and arts centre, with its outstanding acoustics, is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture.
- For a cosy gay-friendly bar, head to @ThePub. The Christmas market attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors, and you are sure to bump into one or two fellow gay travelers at this watering hole.
- Bahaus Bar – Another gay-friendly beer cafe at the centre of Bruges with craft beer and lots of space, especially handy as the city fills to capacity during the December season.
- Bistro Bruut: – Situated by the idyllic Meebrug, this culinary newcomer is a ray of sunshine. An upper crust bistro, meaning delicious food without all the fuss – relaxed and casual, yet still excellent. Bistro Bruut has recently launched its own house gin. (Meestraat 9)
- Tom’s Diner – A 16th century building with great decor and simple, pure dishes with a special touch – that’s Tom’s Diner in a nutshell. From patatas bravas, Vietnamese spring rolls, house-marinated salmon and baked white tripe to meat loaf and prawn croquettes – at Tom’s Diner you can taste the whole world under one roof.
Getting to Bruges
- The closest airport to Bruges is Brussels Airport. Bruges is about one hour from Brussels by train, and trains cost about €20-30 each way, depending on the class of service.
- From London, High-speed Eurostar trains will get you as far as Brussels, and from there, you can change onto a local Belgian SNCB train to complete your journey to Bruges.
- A private car from Brussels to Bruges will set you back EUR 115.
- Consider combining a trip to Brussels Winter Wonders Market with your trip to Bruges.
Here are the Hotels we recommend with good reviews that keep you close to all the action
Gay Map of Bruges
Bruges is famous for it Christmas Market and is a must it you have not been
Recommended Hotels in Brugge
Book with confidence. Get the best Prices from our partner Booking.com
We have chosen hotels in Brugge that keep you close to all the shops, restaurants & bars
5 Star, Castle
- 5 Star Castle
- 5 Minute walk to the Christmas market
- 4 Minute walk to the gay bar
- Superb Breakfast
- Good fitness centre
- Spa and Wellness centre
Relais & Châteaux
5 Star, Luxury
- 5 Star Luxury hotel
- 3 Minute walk to the Christmas Market
- 5 Minute walk to the gay bar
- Spa and wellness centre
- Exceptional breakfast
- Airport shuttle
4 Star, Great Value
- 4 Star waterfront Hotel
- 4 Minute walk to the Christmas Market
- 2 Minute walk from the gay bar
- Magnificent breakfast room
- Spectacular view
- Airport shuttle
Hotel De Orangerie
4 Star, Readers Choice
- Small Luxury Hotels of the World
- 3 Minute walk to the Christmas market
- 2 Minute walk to the gay bar
- Pets Allowed
- Superb Breakfast
- Coffee Maker in all rooms
Video Winter Glow Bruges
The official aftermovie for Bruges Christmas Markets and Winter Glow