Inside Plaisirs d’hiver: Brussels’ Magical Winter Wonders Festival

The Winter Wonders Festivals as seen from the top of the ferris wheel

There are plenty of reasons to visit Brussels in the winter. The festive holiday scene at the Grand Place, fresh-baked Belgian waffles to warm up the kids and world class monk-made local brews for Mom and Dad that are almost worth the trip any time of year. Plus, Belgian chocolate. But perhaps the best reason to brave the winter cold is to witness Brussels’ legendary Winter Wonders Festival, also referred to as Plaisirs d’hiver, which takes place over five weeks from the end of November til the beginning of January. We caught the tail end of this year’s 14th annual festival between Christmas and New Years.

The Winter Wonders Festival features over 250 chalet stalls selling everything from Christmas ornaments and hand-made crafts to chocolate and gluwein. Two long rows of these stalls are set up on either side of Place St. Catherine with a giant ferris wheel on one end and a number of very unique carousels (think ostriches, spaceships and hot air balloons rather than your usual horses) scattered throughout. An outdoor ice skating rink and a towering slalom are also part of the festivities.

Everybody loves a good European Christmas market, and this is one of the best.

Next year’s Winter Wonders Festival runs from November 27th, 2015 to January 3rd, 2016

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An antique carousel at the Winter Wonders festival

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Looking out on the Winter Wonders festival from the top of the giant ferris wheel

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Grand Place, decked out for the holidays

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An adorable waffle truck parked near the festival

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The giant ferris wheel

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Le Comptoir de Mathilde, a beautiful chocolate shop near Grand Place

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The steak au poivre at Au Vieux Saint Martin, near the festival

 

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