Guide to Christmas Markets near Leuven
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! So, here is our list of the best Christmas markets around Leuven, in case you need a break from your studies.
Archives from The Voice
The Voice is the student newspaper run by internationals at KU Leuven. Between 2018 and 2022, The Voice published articles on the Veto website under the The Voice section, combined with translations of Dutch Veto articles. After 2022, the section was renamed to Veto English. Since then, the section has been operated by Veto English staff only.
by Gwynne van Kaauwen
Are you still looking for Christmas presents or do you just want to get some hot chocolate, glühwein or see beautiful decorations? Here are the 7 best Christmas markets around Leuven according the team of The Voice! Starting from Germany, moving on to the Netherlands and last but not least the Christmas markets that Belgium has to offer, there are plenty of options around for all tastes.
This beautiful small city in the west of Germany has many amazing Christmas markets. The most popular ones are the Angel’s market and the Christmas market at the Dom. If you’re in the mood for something completely different then try out Heavenue - The Gay Christmas market. Most of the markets will be open until the 23rd of December.
The ESN Leuven actually organised a trip to Köln last Saturday 7th of December. In case you missed it, you can still get there by train (through Liège) or by Flixbus.
The Köln Christmas market around the Dom.
Andrew Jackson, one of our writers, joined for the trip organised by the ESN and this is what he had to say about it: “The market around the Dom was very large and touristy - it seemed to have a lot of companies there with more than one stand, there was a massive Christmas tree and there were live musical performances. I preferred the slightly smaller market nearby - the look was very traditional and there were these unique statues of gnomes.”
Combine the Christmas markets of Köln and Düsseldorf!
Just a little smaller and more north of Köln you can find the artsy city of Düsseldorf. The Christmas atmosphere arrived here in mid-November and can be found in the entire centre of the city. There will even be a huge ice rink located in the middle of the different markets. The markets will close on the 31st of December. The easiest and cheapest way to get there is probably by bus.
Tip from the team of The Voice: combine the Christmas markets of Köln and Düsseldorf, they’re only half an hour away from each other by train.
The Christmas market in Düsseldorf
Visit the beautifully decorated caves of Valkenburg
This pretty Dutch city is only one hour and fifteen minutes away by train! The highlight this month is definitely the amusement park in the middle of the city, especially the Ferris wheel. Next to this there is an ice rink and a “lights route” to make you discover all the cute alleys and squares. All of the city’s Christmas activities will be open until the 31st of December.
Tip from the team of The Voice: visit the beautifully decorated, Christmassy caves of Valkenburg, they’re only 15 minutes away by bus!
The decorated caves of Valkenburg
If you don't really feel like leaving Belgium, then closer to home you can find a couple of very nice Christmas markets as well.
One of the biggest Christmas markets of the country can be found in the lovely city of Antwerp. The entire centre is filled with stalls. There is also an ice rink with a starry sky, a ‘magical wonder forest’, a digital wishes wall, giant Christmas trees, live radio and a hanging winter garden. The Christmas market is open until the 5th of January. The easiest way to get to the city is by train, which takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour from Leuven.
Tip from the team of The Voice: check out the Jungle Book china lights festival in Antwerp's zoo next to the central station until the 12th of January.
Christmas lights on Our Lady's Cathedral of Antwerp
Probably the most diverse Christmas market of the country is in Brussels. The market has over 200 stalls. The sound and light show at the Grote Markt is a true eye-catcher. Definitely join the videomapping shows as well! There are a lot of varying activities, so do not forget to check them out online before visiting. With only half an hour of travel time from Leuven, you can of course also decide to come back a few times. This market will be open until the 5th of January.
Ferris wheel at the Christmas market in Brussels
Our very own town joins in on this Christmas tradition as well. The Christmas market is located at the Ladeuzeplein, but the adorable village (with real sheep at the nativity scene) can be found at the Grote Markt. The spruce forest is located at the Hooverplein. There are performances at the Christmas market almost every day, and it will be open until the 22nd of December.
Tip from the team of The Voice: visit it on a Saturday afternoon or evening and walk through the market at the Brusselsestraat. The pasteis de nata are highly recommended
Christmas lights on Leuven's historic city hall
We end this list with the capital of Limburg; the vibrant Hasselt! The fun takes place at the Kolonel Dusartplein. Definitely pay a visit to the hall of mirrors, the covered ice rink and the Ferris wheel. The Christmas market is somewhat smaller than the others but all the more cosy! The city is only 40 minutes away by train from Leuven. The market will close on the 6th of January.
The Christmas market in Hasselt