Brussels Christmas market

The Plaisirs d’Hiver/Winter Pret Christmas market in Brussels, Belgium

Brussels is new to the Christmas market game, having started the tradition in 2001, but pulls off its Plaisirs d’Hiver/Winter Pret—or “Pleasures of Winter”—festival with elegant style (Nov. 25–Jan 1; It includes a nightly sound-and-light show on the Grand Place and a market surrounding the Bourse (Stock Exchange) and along Place Sainte Catherine.

In keeping with that Belgian spirit of a United Europe, the 240 wooden chalets of teh Christmas market host artisans from around the world hawking a kaleidoscope of Christmas wares, hand-made crafts, and souvenirs.

Not that Belgian traditions are left out, particularly at the food stalls: pots of moules (mussels) and caricoles (peppery whelks or winkles), meaty Belgian fries and fluffy Belgian waffles, seasonal croustillons (sugar doughnuts), and Belgium’s two most welcome additions to world cuisine, fine chocolates and powerful beer.

The stalls end at the Fishmarket, transformed into a long ice-skating rink under the spinning glitter of a 160-foot Ferris wheel.

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The guest village (in 2011, it is Greece). Each year, Brussels invites a different guest of honor to set up a market-within-the-market to share some of its own traditions. Past invitees (who invariably return in subsequent years with a handful of stalls to add to the market’s international mix) have included Provence, Québec, Tallinn, Lapland, and Île de la Réunion.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in August 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.