The popular Winter Wonders festival and the enchanting Christmas market have returned to the heart of Brussels on November 24th and will continue to spread the festive spirit until 31 December. Apart from the traditional hotspots – Grand Place with its Christmas tree and Saint Catherine market area with the giant Ferris wheel, visitors can expect many different activities all around the city and experience Brussels By Lights, Winter Pop, Winter Vox, Éloge de l’Air (In Praise of Air), After-Ski parties and many more.
What’s new this year?
An exciting highlight of this year’s edition is the presence of the 11 Indigenous Nations of Quebec, who have their own captivating mini-village in front of the Bourse for the entire duration of the Winter Wonders. Adding to the festive atmosphere, “Éloge de l’air” (In Praise of Air) swings are installed on Mont des Arts, providing a unique experience against the city’s most amazing backdrop. Amidst the 200 chalets, 30 artisans awarded with the quality label are offering their wares – making it an excellent opportunity for quality Christmas shopping. For those who like icy pursuits, lace up your skates – the ice rink and curling slopes are located on Place De Brouckère, both covered and offering real ice experience this year!
Since its inception, Winter Wonders has been transforming the capital into a winter fairytale, to the delight of young and old alike.DELPHINE HOUBA, ALDERWOMAN FOR CULTURE, TOURISM AND MAJOR EVENTS
The guest of honour: 11 Indigenous Nations of Quebec
After a three-day teaser last year, this time the 11 Indigenous Nations of Quebec take centre stage as the guest of honour at Brussels Winter Wonders. This is a nice opportunity to learn about and meet the Anishinaabe, the Atikamekw, the Eeyouch, the Innu/Ilnuatsh, the Inuit, the Kanien’kehá:ka, the Mi’gmaq, the Naskapi, the W8banakiak, the Wendat, the Wolastoqiyik…
In the village dedicated to them in front of the Bourse, visitors can discover their culinary products and local crafts. A unique experience can be found in a traditional «Shaputuan» tent, a traditional Innu tent used as a meeting place to share culture.
On the Grand Place, a famous Sound & Light show this year offers an immersive experience that transcends cultural boundaries, inviting the public into the profound symbolism and storytelling of Indigenous peoples in what is now known as North America. The project Kanien’kéha language, called after an Indigenous language predominantly spoken in Québec, celebrates the Medicine Wheel, symbolizing the wisdom of the Four Directions and the cyclical rhythms of life. Hourly projections take place from 5 pm to 10 pm (from Monday to Thursday) and every 30 minutes (Friday to Sunday). Additionally, don’t miss an installation in the courtyard of the Brussels Town Hall, done by a renowned traditional Anishinaabe artist, Frank Polson. (from 5 pm to 11 pm).
Our 12 favourites at this year’s Winter Wonders
If you are still wondering what are some of the interesting spots and activities not to be missed at this year’s festive season in Brussels, here are our suggestions:
- Admire the Christmas tree on the Grand Place and enjoy the 360° sound and light show (6 to 8 minutes long), based on the work of Leilani Shaw, a Kanien’kehá ka (Mohawk) artist.
- Visit the Christmas Market with more than 200 chalets. There are 30 chalets with Quality Label, featuring artisanal products. Most chalets are on Sainte Catherine/Vismet, in front of the Bourse and Place de Brouckère.
- Visit the chalets and Shaputuan tent in front of the Bourse featuring this year’s guests of honor – 11 Indigenous Nations of Quebec. They also have a special program on Fridays.
- Enjoy the ride on the big Ferris wheel for amazing Christmas market views.
- Grab a hot drink of mulled wine or hot chocolate (it also helps to warm your hands!) and try some local food or waffles at the Christmas market.
- Learn to ski (and afterparty!) at the ice rink on Place de Brouckère. They have separate section for beginners, which is very encouraging for those who want to try it for the first time. Also, every Thursday, there’s afterski on the ice rink: a DJ set livens up the Place De Brouckère from 6 pm to 10 pm, with a programme that reflects the diversity of Brussels’ and different musical styles. Info here
- If you visit with kids, enjoy the ride on the carousel on Place de Brouckère or Place Saint-Catherine.
- Admire Brussels by Lights installations all over the city center and participate in Eikosis, the fun geocaching game to discover the city, access shopping offers and win cool prizes. Check our story with more info about this new activity!
- Don’t miss more light creations in different areas of the city, from Neder-Over-Heembeek, Haren and Laeken. Immerse yourself in Game of Illusions a magical experience at Place Emile Bockstael every evening from 5 pm to 11 pm, until 31 December. An interactive mapping on the majestic Maison de la Creation offers a world where reality and magic merge harmoniously.
- Enjoy Éloge de l’air (In Praise of Air) swing installations at Mont des Arts, an innovative co-production between the City of Brussels, Metz and Quebec. It is based on the principle of inventing an installation dedicated to travel and intercontinental collaboration, while embodying the idea of movement. There are 9 swings with 2 seats, topped with a gold flag which activates lights!
- Each weekend, Winter Vox with different professional or amateur choirs offers a musical experience next to Tour Noire (Pl Sainte-Catherine 29). The recitals focus on Christmas carols, gospel, sacred chants, as well as pop and contemporary music. Every Saturday, three performances each day, from 4 pm to 8 pm. Additionally, there will be also other musical performances, get more details here.
- Climb up the City Hall tower and discover the most unique Christmas panorama in Brussels. (This includes climbing up 200 steps!)
Of course there are many more activities and events happening throughout the coming weeks and we suggest you to check the Winter wonders agenda and to follow our @welovebrussels Instagram page where we share regular daily inspirations. Meanwhile enjoy the festive season!