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Winter in Brugge - Zicht op belfort

The winter season represents cosiness and heart-warming moments with family and friends. Warm World Heritage City Bruges lends itself perfectly to this. Come and soak up the atmosphere in the historic setting of charming ‘reien’ (canals), monumental architecture and picturesque streets. Stroll past Christmas markets and decorated shop windows, sip a fragrant coffee and enjoy a sharing platter. Discover some universal stories of care and empathy at the renovated Museum St John’s Hospital. The many almshouses also illustrate the care for the citizens of Bruges throughout the centuries. In the dark days, everyone can use some bright spots. The additional holiday lights and the light experience walk 'Aurora' literally take care of that. The 'Winter Solstice' festival invites you to actually celebrate light with poetry and music. With the following tips, we would like to warm you up for a stay in Bruges. Wishing you a happy holiday season!

Jeruzalemkerk en Adornesdomein

1. Silent Nostalgia walk

One of the four hikes from the Walking Guide Oooh! Bruges will guide you through the authentic, hushed St Anne's Quarter. The 13th-century hospital and Church of Our Lady of the Pottery, the Jerusalem Chapel (1429) on the Adornes Estate, the domed church (1739) of the English Convent and the archers' guilds of St Sebastian and St George – respectively more than 600 and more than 500 years old – will hurl you back in time. The working-class neighbourhood of St Anna is also home to a surprising number of green oases: the urban belt of the City Ramparts, the garden of the House Gezelle and the Guido Gezellewarande, the intimate garden of the residential care centre Ter Potterie, which has been rechristened as a 'neighbourhood park', etc.

Prefer to walk the route digitally? Download the Visit Bruges Route App.

  

Feel the heartbeat - Musea Brugge

2. Renovated Museum St John’s Hospital

Opens doors from 16 December 2023

St John's Hospital, one of the oldest and best-preserved hospital buildings in Europe, started taking care of sick and needy people as early as 1150.

The new setup connects the history of the hospital and its collection with universal themes such as hospitality, empathy, life and death, meaning and care. In addition to the diverse range of paintings – including the second-largest collection of Memlings in the world – numerous images of medicinal saints and everyday utensils, there are also some surprising contemporary works of art on display. The recently acquired sculpture 'Liggende Arcangelo' (2023) by Berlinde De Bruyckere reinforces both thematically and formalistically the story of the new, contemporary museum that will become an inviting place where everyone is welcome, just as in the past.

More Musea Brugge information

  

3. December Dance, Winter Solstice and Christmas Concerts

The dance festival December Dance (7 – 17 December) is a warm-up before the holidays. Promising Belgian creators (Michiel Vandevelde, Lisa Vereertbrugghen, Femke Gyselinck, among others) and resounding names from abroad (Jefta van Dinther, Trajal Harrell, Pol Pi, Christian Bakalov, Robyn Orlin, among others) will showcase incredible dance performances. 'Polyphony' is the common thread; it is the starting point for pushing boundaries and collectively imagining an alternative future.

Stadsschouwburg Brugge

With 'Winter Solstice – The Birth of Light in Music Without Boundaries' (17 – 23 December), Concertgebouw Brugge (Concert Hall) will celebrate the Festival of Light across cultures, from ancient Persian and Scandinavian traditions to Bach and new carols by singer-songwriter Meskerem Mees. Discover the varied and surprising programme here.

The tradition of Christmas concerts is kept alive in Bruges. On 17 December, Vocal Ensemble De Wijngaard will perform Christmas carols and instrumental interludes at the Beguinage Church. Make yourself comfortable in a red velvet seat at the Royal Municipal Theatre for 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree' (20/12) and enjoy some traditional and contemporary Christmas classics, gospel and a capella songs, soul songs, etc.  The Concertgebouw Brugge will welcome the Vlaams Radiokoor (20/12) performing some classic Christmas Carols.

More inspiration in the events calendar

  

Godshuis De Vos in de sneeuw

4. Almshouses, heritage of centuries of care

All over the city centre, you will find groups of small, white-painted houses with the founder's name and date on the wall and often surrounding a picturesque courtyard garden.

These almshouse complexes, once erected by wealthy citizens or tradesmen to shelter needy elderly people or widows, managed to endure in Bruges. The bulk of these admittedly adapted and easily accessible homes are currently rented out to elderly people by the Public Centre for Social Welfare at low prices. In the wide Boeveriestraat, you will find the highest concentration. Feel free to visit, but do show respect and preserve the silence.

Make sure to walk past Kattepoortje and Wevershof during your 'Almshouses Walk'. These once drab, 19th-century interior courtyards where workers shacked up in miserable conditions have now been transformed into comfortable almshouses.

More information on the almshouses

  

Brazila

5. Shopping and coffee fun

If you want to mix purpose with pleasure, simply shop to a backdrop of decorated shop windows and pleasant music in the streets, and head into a coffee shop.

You are sure to find an appropriate end-of-year gift at one of the characterful businesses or surprising establishments in Bruges. Perhaps stop in at the Lock keeper's House, the shop with artisanal products and packages, or visit one of Musea Brugge's Museum Shops with a highly artistic product range.

In between, enjoy a cup of steaming coffee. Coffee roaster Dees Wilco, who only works with Specialty coffee, opened his pop-bar on Langestraat. Izy Coffee takeaway on Steenstraat serves high-quality coffee in a recyclable cup. You can also go to coffee shops Bar'LokalLi o LaitCoffeebar Adriaan, Marie's HouseVero Caffè, Kaffee Kamiel, Brazila, etc., for a cup of comfort.

More shopping and gift ideas

  

Atelier Flori

6. Sharing platters, tuck in together

Quite a few restaurants deviate from the classic three-course menu and offer their guests the opportunity to share different dishes together in an informal and relaxing atmosphere. That way, there is no stress about choosing for a while and you can taste a variety of flavours.

At Locàle, you can sit down for some surprising snacks & bites to share. At Café Rose Red, they serve some delicious appetisers to accompany a Trappist beer. Various vegan tapas served on a tiered stand is Atelier Flori's speciality.

Other Bruges restaurants following the trend of sharing food include L.E.S.S. EateryOnslowQuatre Vins, Tom’s DinerMe-Zen and Tanuki.

More culinary tips

  

Wintergloed 2023 - Particular

7. The fifth and warmest edition of Winter Glow

From 24 November through 7 January 2024, a unique light experience walk, an artificial ice skating rink, a cosy winter bar, two Christmas markets and some atmospheric Christmas lights will make Bruges a fairy-tale city. The Warmest Week (18 through 24/12), VRT's annual solidarity action with non-stop live radio from 't Zand Square, completes the winter picture.

The light walk 'Aurora', inspired by the Northern Lights, is a 2.5 km trail along 10 unique light installations that make full use of the reflections along the canals of Bruges. At the Lake of Love, you will find Winter Bar Vorst offering sustainable and flavourful offerings at a fair price. Again, some Handmade in Bruges label-holders are participating. At the Market Square, stalls will feature traditional Christmas offerings, while at Simon Stevin Square, short chain and crafts will take centre stage. Immerse yourself in enchanting Bruges during Winter Glow.

All information on Winter Glow

  

Boutique Hotel De Castillion

8. Dream sweet dreams in Bruges

Experience some cordial hospitality while staying in a mediaeval city. Several hundred licensed lodging operators – hotelsB&Bs and holiday homes – are ready to welcome you with open arms. During the end-of-year period, some beautifully decorated Christmas trees, extra candlelight and a crackling fireplace will create a cosy and homely atmosphere.

Find a romantic suite or a spacious family room here and book an unforgettable city break.