Saturday, December 27, 2008

Brussels Christmas Market 2008 Photos

We visited the Brussels Christmas Market on Sunday 21 September. Starting from the lights on the Grand Place, it stretches around the Bourse and then along Place St Catherine ending with an illuminated Big Wheel and outdoor skating rink.

There was a wonderful carousel with old flying machines, dinosaurs, a balloon and other unusual forms of transport:

There were thousands of people so in some places it was shoulder to shoulder but overall well worth visiting with lots to attract adults and children.

traditional Polish goods for sale:

Only in Brussels can you find a shop full of chocolate Mannekin Pis:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winterland Hasselt

Winterland Hasselt is a wonderful German style Christmas market open until 4 January 2009 on the Kolonel Dusartplein. There is a big wheel, outdoor skating rink (3€ skating + 3€ skate hire), merry-go-round and kids' rides and gift stalls.

We had fresh snow on the first weekend so it must have been wonderful skating in the snow.

There are plenty of places to eat and drink, including a large heated bar. You can enjoy champagne, glühwein, poffertjes, pancakes, Hungarian cakes, toffee apples, snails and of course, Jenever, as Hasselt is the home of Jenever.

Talking about Glühwein:

Here I am enjoying a Glühwein with a friend.

Ho, ho, ho.

Belgian Railways have a special shopping ticket price of 8 € return to anywhere in Belgium during the school Christmas holidays so you can travel to Hasselt from all over Belgium. Kids travel free. Details here:

More info on Winterland Hasselt:
Photos of Winterland
In en Uit Hasselt
Wat te

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Win a Family Ticket to Winter Bellewaerde Park

Het is winter in Bellewaerde Park, en de Sneeuwman en de Kerstman staan paraat om je te ontvangen in hun deel van het park! Winterland zal in een prachtig winters jasje steken en bezaaid zijn met sneeuw. De andere helft van het park wordt omgedoopt tot Kerstland en zal baden in een knusse kerstsfeer, met honderden kerstbomen, twinkelende lichtjes en kleurrijke cadeautjes!

From Monday 15 tot Sunday 21 December, Het Belang van Limburg are giving away 15 family tickets, up to 4 people, valid until 4 January 2009.

Visit the Winter Bellewaerde Park website

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

De Roosen Stones and Crystals Museum

De Roosen in Neerpelt, Limburg is a stones and crystals museum run by an enthusiastic pensioner and his family. They have spent every holiday looking for stones and crystals which they now proudly display and share with visitors. They give informative talks which children can understand. People have brought sand samples from all over the world.

De Roosen is open on the last Sunday afternoon of each month from 13.30 to 16.30. Entrance is free and each visitor may take one free crystal in a bag with description, plus find free crystals outside on the ground or by rummaging in sandboxes. You can also pan for "fool's gold". Don't miss the "fluorescent" room.

My young boys insist on going every month and now their friends are coming along too. They cannot wait to show their classmates their new acquisitions on the Monday morning.

There is a well-stocked shop with prices from a few cents up to hundreds of euros.

There is also a café with a drink and cake costing 1 Euro together.

The bad news is that De Roosen is going to close to visitors on 30 May 2009. From January until May there will be an increasing scale of discount given on all purchases.

De Roosen will stay open for class and group visits which can be arranged on 011/64 28 95. The address is De Roosen 64, 3910 Neerpelt.

Visit Living in Belgium for information on what's on, where to go and useful tips for making life in Belgium more interesting.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Belgian Railways Shopping Ticket in December and January

With the “Shopping ticket” you only pay 8 EUR for a second class return ticket to your favourite shopping area in Belgium!

Does the thought of traffic jams or the eternal quest for a parking space discourage you? If you take the train, you do not need to worry about them. Moreover, the SNCB now offers you the Shopping ticket at a bargain price.

A return ticket for any Belgian town only costs 8 EUR (2nd class) or 12 EUR (1st class). A maximum of 4 children can travel free with one passenger at least 12 years old holding a valid ticket.

This promotion ticket is valid for a round trip on the same day during the weekends in December, January, and on Sunday 1 February '09. During the Christmas holidays, the ticket is valid every day from Monday 22/12/2008 until Sunday 04/01/2009 included.

The ticket can also be combined with special entrance tickets to the Brussels Christmas market. Full details at

Brussels Christmas Market 2008

The Brussels Christmas Market from 28 November 2008 to 28 December 2008. From Monday to Thursday 12.00 to 21.00, Friday to Sunday 11.00 to 22.00. 24 December from 12.00 to 18.00, 25 December 14.00 to 22.00.

Hailed as ‘Europe’s most original Christmas market’ by British tour operators, the Christmas Market is made up of 240 wooden chalets, dotted around the Bourse (Stock Exchange), Place Sainte Catherine and the Marché aux Poissons (fish market). Whichever chalets you visit, you can be sure to find plenty of Christmas gifts and various seasonal gastronomic delights.

There is a 60m2 skating rink. Adults: 6 €/hour; under 12s: 4 €/hour and 1 € for every 15 minutes extra. Skates hire included. Gloves obligatory. Children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by adults (free entry for accompanying adults who do not wish to skate).

Discover Winter Wonders from on high, seated in heated gondolas on the Big Wheel in the Marché aux Poissons. Big Wheel: Adults 5€, under-12s 3€. VIP Gondola: four adults/champagne 75€. Info & booking +32 496 49 51 71
The Andréa and Magique roundabouts around its base will delight young and old alike. The rides and their fantasy characters are made by artists from the Royal de Luxe street theatre company. 2€ (weekdays outside of school holidays from 14.00)

A friendly ice dinosaur monster 40 metres long will ‘gobble up’ kids and adults on the site of the Black Tower. Ice Monster: 4€, children under 1m10 free.

On Sunday 30 November, 21 & 28 December, have your photo taken in front of the Ferrero Rocher ice sculpture, on the Marché aux Poissons. You can then download your portrait from the website.

Travel to Winter Wonders on public transport
There are special offers by train, metro and car parking rates.

Full details on

Chinese Terracotta Warriors in Maaseik

The army of Chinese Terracotta Warriors has come to Belgium in the Museum of Maaseik, Limburg from 1 October to 31 March 2009.

I saw this exhibition at the British Museum, London in January and can certainly recommend a visit. My young sons were fascinated.

Musea Maaseik site in Dutch, French, English and German

The world-famous Terracotta Army was discovered near the Chinese city of Xi’an, capital of the Shaanxi province. The Terracotta Army is over 2000 years old and has become an attraction of worldwide renown – year after year attracting millions of visitors from all over the world. It was placed on the UNESCO world heritage list and undoubtedly ranks among the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century.

The Terracotta Army comprises foot soldiers, cavalrymen with horses, archers and charioteers. They guarded the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi. The tomb complex of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi is surrounded by the tombs of princes and princesses. This remarkable funerary cult from the Qin dynasty acquires a specific character during the subsequent Western Han dynasty. Numerous unique grave gifts from both dynasties have been discovered by archaeologists. These enable us to study and admire the cultural development during the early days of the Chinese empire.

Fourteen warriors from the Terracotta Army will be on display inside the Minorite church, the exhibition space of the Maaseik Museums. Each of these statues has its own unique appearance. The facial features, hair style, posture and costume make each of the statues into a strikingly individual member of this awesome army.
On average the statues are 186 cm tall, weighing about 300 kilograms.

These life-size sculptures are literally placed in confrontation with the more delicate terracotta armies of the emperors from the Western Han dynasty. In addition to the fourteen original terracotta warriors, the Maaseik Museums are proud to present over two hundred grave gifts from the Qin and Western Han dynasties. These objects originate from the tomb complexes of the emperors and the tombs of aristocrats following their emperor into the hereafter. These unique weapons and other objects made of iron, bronze, silver, gold, stoneware and jade exemplify the riches of the ruling class of the early Chinese Empire.

E-tickets cost 16,50 € for adults, 5,75 € for children and school groups.

The website also offers packages with hotels and possibly a trip to Maasmechelen Designer Outlet Shopping Village.