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Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

London, United...
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Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

Bruges is truly beautiful, a great place to visit for so many reasons. Unfortunately this year's Christmas Market is not one of them.

Just back from Bruges and in my opinion this ''Attraction'' is bound to disappoint. It's way too small in scale to be billed as a tourist attraction in any case. But Christmas Market? No way!

Spread over several small areas - it basically consists of a number of over priced/sub standard catering stalls, and a few others selling rubbish tourist tat - i.e. poor quality hats, gloves, jewellery etc. Most of it looks cheap, yet its marked up to be absurdly expensive. The sad fact is its just the same boring, poor quality stuff you'd find in your local market at home in the UK, (at any time of year, at a quarter of the price) So I wonder why it's called a Christmas market? Maybe its because there's a small, very overcrowded ice rink?

I've been to Bruges before, and would highly recommend it. I would also recommend NOT going there during late Nov-Dec while this market is on.

Without showing prejudice, I asked several locals for their opinion and could not find one who had a good word to say. Some said they were embarrassed by it, some said they had personally complained to the local authorities, some blamed poor council planning, and all thought tourism would be damaged as a result of this market being so poor.

Avoid the crowds, and wait until it's over to visit Bruges. Or if looking for a Christmas market try elsewhere.

Brussels, Belgium
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1. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

I say to people time and time again in this and other "Belgium" forums that "Christmas markets" and even Christmas in general are not a Belgian tradition: Belgian children still receive their presents on the feast of St. Nicolas, on 6 December, and Christmas just doesn't have the same resonance here as it does in Germany and - after importing German traditions - the "Anglo-Saxon" world. Even if this is growing, for instance this year we had a parade for the arrival of Father Christmas in Brussels, in addition to the traditional one for the arrival of St. Nicolas in November (supposedly he arrives by boat from Spain!).

The reason that they are nevertheless called "Christmas markets" is partly commercial and partly that they obviously do take place around Christmas, together with other activities such as ice-rinks - although to give it its due, the Brussels one is officially the "Winter Wonders" market. I try to warn people that they are not Christmassy - they have exactly the same craftspeople, ethnic tat and general rubbish, and in many cases the same (churros..), food stalls, as at markets at other times of year - in an attempt to lower expectations given the unfounded hype I have see from tour and transport companies (including Eurostar). But still some people are disappointed: while others manage to enjoy themselves, including a recent poster, comparing the market in Brugge to Ieper, see tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g188634-i204-k7046…

Of course, all things are relative: the Brugge market is bigger and better than Ieper's and Brussels' than Brugge. But you need to go to Germany for a real Christmas market, not anywhere in Belgium. Otherwise, it should be considered as just another activity that might add to a trip to Brugge (or Brussels) that they were going to make at that time of year anyway: and not the reason for going, or people do risk feeling seriously let down - even if this is at least partly their own fault for not researching it properly. The same issues come up in these forums every year!

UK
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2. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

I agree wholeheartedly with qaminari .. we visited this year but were under no illusions about what to expect, thanks to the TA forum advice. Yes, it is a disappointment if you are expecting anything like Koln or Prague, but having been to the likes of Birmingham and Bath in the UK (both of which for me were disappointing) the goods on offer are IMO just the same overpriced foods and tat

But we were in Bruges for the great ambiance and experience that is Bruges at Christmas as a whole, thoroughly enjoying every minute of our time there, from shopping in the wide variety of stores to the food and drink in the bars and cafes. The only let-down for me? ..no snow !!

3. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

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London, United...
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4. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

qaminari, you are absolutely right.

I can't say I was disappointed myself, as I didn't go to Bruges for the market, it just happened to be on while I was there. I visit Belgium simply because I love Belgium. The fact remains potential repeat visitors may be put off returning at any other time of year by the negative effect of such a poorly organised event.

Actually, it doesn't matter to me whether this is a Christmas market or not. Oddly it seems the Bruges local authorities don't care either. (It appears they don't even care whether its a good market or not)

I find it an incredible shame that there was little or none of the fabulous produce Belgium is famed for on offer. Surely there must be local Farmers, Cheese-makers, Preserve suppliers, Confectioners, Craftspeople and Artists willing to be involved.

I sincerely hope some Bruges Councillors read our posts, because it could, and should be so much better.

Deal. UK
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5. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

I agree with the comments above. We went in the full knowledge that the market was small and selling nothing apart from Tourist Tat, but we did have a really good day. It easy to park and there's plenty to see, do and eat.

We are lucky enough to be able to go to Bruges for day trips, which we do frequently, just because its such a lovely town. However, what I do take issue with is the way some British travel and coach companies are selling it as a Christmas Market destination in the same way as they sell trips to the German markets. It's not like that, so don't believe the advertising, just go end enjoy Bruges, because its a beautiful, friendly city.

UK
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6. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

Any comments about the Xmas market in Aachen Germany. I believe that's the closest to visit

Wingene, Belgium
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7. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

as a local, i do agree. a long journey and a visit to bruges excluselively for the christmas market will be very disappointing ! but the christmas atmosphere in bruges is wonderful.

8. Re: Bruges ''Christmas Market'' ? I don't think so.

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Removed on: 22 December 2014, 05:19