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The magic of Christmas

For many people, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas markets are a firm integral part of the Advent season in East Belgium. A large selection of high-quality gingerbread, old-fashioned gingerbread cookies known as “Printen”, spiced biscuits and mulled wine are offered at the Christmas markets in East Belgium. Its proximity to Germany, the land of the traditional Christmas markets, is doubtless one of the reasons why this custom has been able to establish itself firmly here in this region.

Christmas spirit in East Belgium

The nights are drawing in and each year people start looking forward to the coming Christmas season well before its arrival. It is the most contemplative time of the year, characterised by candlelight and the mouth-watering aroma of biscuits, mysterious Christmas tales, frosty temperatures and romantic nights in front of a blazing log fire.

A special festive programme is offered all over the region: Advent and Christmas concerts, Christmas markets, rambles with various nativity crib scenes along the route, Advent calendars, a visit by St. Nicholas bearing gifts for (well behaved) children, exhibitions of nativity crib scenes and much, much more. This means that for five weeks, guests in East Belgium are spoilt for choice when it comes to getting into the right mood for Christmas.

 


Festive dates


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Christmas markets


All the Christmas markets held in East Belgium each year have their own particular charm as a special festive programme is on offer everywhere: Christmas concerts, handicraft markets, rambles with various nativity crib scenes along the route, Advent calendars, a visit by St. Nicholas bearing gifts for (well behaved) children, exhibitions etc. Its proximity to Germany, the land of the traditional Christmas markets, is doubtless one of the reasons why this custom has been able to establish itself firmly here in this region.

Since the East Belgian Christmas markets are also spread out over the weeks before the festival in a well coordinated manner, they ultimately offer something different from week to week. Some Christmas markets take place indoors over a longer period of time, such as the one in Botrange Nature Park Centre, or partly indoors and partly outdoors like the one in Waimes.


 

 

EUPEN – arguably the oldest Christmas market in Belgium

Some 70 festively decorated little wooden huts set up in the market square, the Klosterstrasse and the Klötzerbahn in the historical centre of the town draw the crowds in the run-up to Christmas. Here you can find everything your heart desires: regional specialities, artisan craftwork, decorations and much, much more. The festive flair is underscored by the accompanying programme of music to set the mood. On Sundays the shops also open from 12 noon to 6 p.m. St. Nicholas also visits the Christmas market on all the days of the market.


 

 

KELMIS – Christmas market with live music

50 stalls in the church square with Christmas articles, delicious treats and hot beverages. Live music in the square and inside the parish church creates the proper festive atmosphere. St. Nicholas will be there handing out gifts to the little ones. The shops in the Kirchstrasse and the Thimstrasse will also be open on Sunday, offering various interesting and engaging activities for the guests.

2nd weekend in December
Sat.: 4 p.m. – 8 p.m
Sun.: 1 p.m – 8 p.m.
Info: +32(0)87/65 75 04
www.kelmis.be


 

 

MALMEDY – Christmas market & the magic of ice

Each year in winter, the “Albertplatz” square in the town centre turns into a meeting point for ice skaters. Christmas stalls also open up all around the ice rink on the four Advent weekends, creating the perfect atmosphere during the run-up to Christmas.

Info: 
+32(0)80/79 96 52
+32(0)80/33 02 50
www.malmedy.be
 


 

 

ST. VITH – Christmas magic

St. Vith, a town with a special flair during the Christmas season. On the third Sunday of Advent, from 1 p.m., visitors are put in a festive mood by Christmas magic happening in the town centre with entertainment on three large stages and many Christmas stalls, enticing you to enjoy a leisurely stroll through the festively decorated streets and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.

On the 3rd Sunday of Advent from 1 p.m.
Info: +32(0)80/22 92 20
+32(0)80/28 01 30
www.st.vith.com
 


 

 

WAIMES – Christmas market & market with delicacies from Provence

A slightly different kind of Christmas market is held in the “Saal Oberbayern” and outdoor marquees on two weekends. In addition to some 50 traditional Christmas stalls, many vendors make their way to Weismes (Waimes in French) from Buis les Baronnies (F) each year to offer their regional delicacies there. The indoor market is the place to go to find artisan craftwork, jewellery, flowers and decoration articles, while outdoors the delicious treats tickle the taste buds of the guests. Several concerts performed by choral and musical societies contribute to the pre-Christmas mood. St. Nicholas will pay a visit to see the children on the first weekend and Father Christmas will be there on the second weekend.


On the 1st and 2nd weekends in December
Fridays: in the hall from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the outdoor stalls until 1 a.m.
Saturdays: in the hall from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. and the outdoor stalls until 1 a.m.
Sundays: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Info: Isabelle Stoffels, +32/471/18 10 28
 

 


Christmas concerts


The musical landscape of East Belgium is virtually inexhaustible. Thousands of East Belgians are active members of musical associations, singing clubs and choirs. The festive period provides them with the ideal stage to showcase their musical talent in front of a local audience. Guests attending such events will not be disappointed as they will be pleasantly surprised by the standard and quality of the performances. This is where genuine, homemade Christmas spirit comes to life.

 


Advent calendar & wreath


Eupen is the only location in which a new door on the huge Advent calendar can be opened. These little doors are spread out over the market square, for example on the wall of the Church of St. Nicholas, on shops or restaurants. They were designed by the pupils of the schools in Eupen.

A new door is opened every day at 5.30 p.m.

A festively decorated Advent wreath around the pillar “Mariensäule” of the fountain in the market square is also ablaze with light. One candle each is lit on the four Sundays of Advent.
 

 


Advent and nativity scene rambles


A ramble through the festively decorated villages and hamlets is a wonderful experience for the whole family – with or without snow. The nativity scene builders set up their “treasures” year after year with loving attention to detail. In addition to the nativity crib scenes, chapels, crosses, memorials and monuments can also be explored in some of the locations.

 

Nativity scene ramble in Eupen

Although the churches and chapels in Eupen are worth a visit at any time of the year, they are especially inviting when the nativity crib scenes have been set up and are adorned with festive decorations. A pamphlet guides visitors to Eupen to the most beautiful cribs in the town. It is available from the Tourist Information Office.

 

Guided nativity scene ramble in Eupen 

At the end of each year, the Tourist Information Office organises a guided nativity scene ramble in the romantic glow of flaming torches. Experienced town guides provide interesting facts on how these cribs depicting the nativity scene came into being, about Advent or the various customs (Advent wreath, Advent calendar …). Amusing short stories, not just for children, and interesting facts about the history of Eupen will fascinate and amaze you.

Tourist Info Eupen
Marktplatz 7
4700 Eupen
Tel. : 087/ 55 34 50

www.eupen.be

 

Nativity scene ramble in Malmedy


Malmedy offers its residents and guests a ramble through the district in search of magnificent nativity crib scenes set up by the citizens or the town council. They are a sign of hospitality for the visitors. A pamphlet showing the route is available at the “Haus für Tourismus” and in the “Malmundarium”.

RSI Malmedy
Place du Châtelet 9
4960 Malmedy
Tel.: 080/799.662
www.malmedy.be/tourisme   

 

Advent ramble in Robertville

Numerous crosses, memorials, monuments and small chapels festively decorated for the Christmas season can be found at crossings and the sides of the roads in Robertville, which is located at the foot of the High Fens. These can be explored as part of a 10-kilometre ramble. A shorter option is also available. Free hiking maps are available in all restaurants and shops in the village.

Tourist Info Robertville
Rue Centrale 53
4950 Robertville
Tel:080/44 64 75
www.robertville.be

 


Nativity scene art from all over the world


A visit to the permanent nativity scene exhibition “Ars Krippana” at the “Culture Boulevard” in the Ardennes is – without a doubt – an ideal way to set the mood for the festive season. It is the largest and most important exhibition of nativity scene art in Europe. Significant landscape nativity scenes, collections, mechanical nativity scenes and an outdoor living nativity scene featuring real animals provide a deep insight into fascinating cultures. One visitor remarked: “If you are looking for nativity scenes from around the world, you will find them in the Eifel-Ardennes region, in the Krippana.” Even a Sicilian crib produced for the private chambers of Pope John-Paul II has found its way to the German-Belgian border.

Every year, the majority of the approximately 350 nativity scenes on display are interchanged. Many of them are works of art. It is always worth paying a visit to the Ardennes Culture Boulevard as it also accommodates further exhibitions in addition to the year-round display of cribs, such as “Ars Tecnica” – a digitally controlled model railway with 2,000 m of track, the “Ars Mineralis” – an exhibition of precious stones – and the “Ars Figura” – a museum with antique dolls.

During Advent, visitors are also offered an attractive accompanying programme (special exhibitions …). Anyone looking to stock up on Christmas decorations for their own nativity scenes at home will find a good range of articles in the shop at Krippana.

The Krippana is located at the former Belgian-German border in Losheim and is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Ars Krippana
Hergersberg 4
4760 Manderfeld
Tel: +32 (0)80/54 87 29
www.a-c-b.eu