In December, the chilly Benelux is Christmas crazy. At medieval Christmas fairs, floating ones, beer fairs and even prehistoric Christmas markets, you can celebrate the season in a myriad of ways. In between the carols, you can also enjoy both the sound of steady dance beats and that of dancer’s feet elegantly taking to the stage. The Benelux has been great this year, yet it has saved the best for December.


Medieval Christmas market
Until 15 December, Dudelange, Luxembourg

Christmas has been celebrated for centuries. In the village of Dudelange, they particularly like to take it all the way back to the Middle Ages, traditionally giving their annual Christmas market a medieval touch. 20 of the 60 stalls are dressed up as taverns or sell artisanal, medieval-style products. At the other end, the regular Christmas market, if you will, you can enjoy the traditional Christmas carols and wintery scents of mulled wine and hot chocolate.

Photo © Ice Sculpture Festival

December Dance
5-15 December, Bruges, Belgium

There is no better place to spend these cold winter nights than in a theatre. Enter December Dance; the last big dance festival of the year. For this edition, the famous Belgian art collective Needcompany curates the event. Not only do they invite an impressive selection of international dancing stars, but they also host the premiere of Traces, the new show of Wim Vandekeybus’ Ultima Vez.

Midwinter Fair. Photo © Hans Splinter

Midwinter fair
7-8 December, Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands

In the Archeon park, time stands still. The open-air museum brings you face to face with people from prehistoric times, the Roman Era and the Middle Ages. During the Midwinter Fair, the park’s historic inhabitants show you how they celebrate the light during the darkest days. Dance, music, food and workshops will keep you occupied all day. Unless you prefer strolling through the big, indoor market instead, where craftsmen and traders sell their unique products.

Are You Series? The New Pope. Photo © HBO

Are You Series?
11-15 December, Brussels, Belgium

Not only the silver screen deserves its proper festivals. Also, the gems of the small screen are entitled to their annual moment in the spotlight. At Are You Series?, the first episodes of Belgian and international series are featured on the big screen, often in premiere. This year, The New Pope is the one to look forward to: Paolo Sorrentino’s sequel of The Young Pope with Jude Law.

Midwinter Fair. Photo © Hans Splinter

Floating Christmas Market
13-24 December, Leiden, the Netherlands

Christmas markets you have aplenty. Floating Christmas markets, however, you only have one. In the historic city of Leiden, the Christmas extravaganza takes place on top of a raft on the Rhine. They even have a skating rink on it. This means you can definitely get the opportunity to ice skate on the river here, regardless of how cold this winter might or might not get.

Photo © Christmas Beer Festival

Christmas Beer Festival
14-15 December, Essen, Belgium

As if there weren’t enough reasons to adore Christmas already, we’d like to add Christmas beers to the list, as well. During the annual Christmas Beer Festival in Essen, you can try around 200 Belgian Christmas and winter beers. They are served in tiny, 15-centilitre glasses, so you can end up trying plenty of them.

Photo © Ice Sculpture Festival

Ice Sculpture Festival
14 December – 1 March, Zwolle, the Netherlands

While walking between these colossal, crystallised pieces of art, you could almost forget that they are sculpted from just frozen water. Every year, the best ice sculptors in the world gather in Zwolle to create the biggest ice-exposition in Europe. With ‘journey through time’ as its general theme this year, over 550,000 kilogrammes of snow and ice will be transformed into fully-sized dinosaurs and Rembrandt’s famous The Night Watch.

Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. Photo © Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland presents: Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike – Garden of Madness
20-21 December, Antwerp, Belgium

They carry the title of ‘World’s greatest DJs’ and are the resident DJs at the planet’s most impressive dance festival, Tomorrowland. Antwerp-bred Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike are most likely Belgium’s most influential artists. To end the year with a bang, they gather all their fans at the country’s biggest arena for two nights of unbridled partying. Get ready to shake every joint in your body to the beats of the dynamic duo, as well as to those of their talented guests.

Photo © Happy Brussels

Happy Brussels
31 December, Brussels, Belgium

You are most welcome to kick off 2020 in style in Brussels. On two squares, enormous clocks count down to the new decennium, after which the party starts. With the Happy Brussels-card, you can even enter all the amazing parties in the city with one single ticket. Just hop from club to club until the break of dawn.

New Year’s Dive Scheveningen. Photo © The Hague

New Year’s Dive
1 January, the Netherlands & Belgium

Some call them crazy, others call them brave. But every 1 January, hundreds of people kick off the new year with a plunge in the ice-cold North Sea. In the Netherlands, Scheveningen is the place to be to release your inner polar bear. In Belgium, you are welcome in Ostend. If you’re further away from the sea, you can probably dive into a designated river nearby, as well, as in many cities, daredevils gather together annually to jump en

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