Christmas break to Lille, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam

As the festive season draws close it may be fun to combine shopping for gifts with a short break in Europe.


Christmas in Brussels, Belgium

Christmas in Brussels
Grande Place, Brussels (c) flickr/Vase Petrovski

Where: Around Grand-Place, Bourse, Place Sainte-Catherine and Marché aux Poissons
When: 24 November 2017 to 31 Dec 2017

It is the capital of Belgium and seat of Europe yet this tiny city is famed for a bizarre collection of offerings from fine chocolates, chunky chips and waffles, and a comical statue called the Mannequin Pis. The urinating child has been standing above his basin at the corner of the Rue d’Etuve and the Rue du Chene, a few minutes’ walk from the Grand Place, since 1618. He has an extensive wardrobe so he may well be wearing something festive over Christmas.

But nothing beats the architecture, especially around the Grand Place where some amazing examples Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture hem the square. These gorgeous buildings form an elegant backdrop to the annual Winter Wonderland, which takes place November 28 right up to January 4. Every evening there is a dazzling sound and light show and an illuminated ferris wheel.

Around 240 wooden chalets topped with fake snow are set up around the Bourse (Stock Exchange), Place Sainte Catherine (where you will find merry-go-rounds on Place Sainte-Catherine), and the Marche aux Poissons (fish market) selling all sorts of gifst. Look out for pâté, jam, truffles, nougat, biscuits and, in particular, speculoos (spiced shortcrust biscuit baked during the festive season).

There’s also a seriously big skating rink at 200 feet long which is easy to find by the Marche aux Poissons.

Read also: Top 10 things to see and do in Brussels