Welcome to Santa’s Village. Follow the trail of soft wood shavings and beautiful pine trees. Pause at the little wooden huts and take a peep through the windows. Thick red drapes, drawn apart, frame gezellig rooms. A kitchen stacked with curious looking old tin boxes, sure to hold grandma’s most delicious cookies inside. A dining table set for a cosy Christmas dinner. A fireplace with red stocking hung and ready for presents.
Designed as different rooms of Santa’s home, the huts give young (and old) visitors a peek into what life must be like for Santa. The path leads you to a living room with a big and beautifully decorated Christmas tree, where the man of the hour greets children with a little bag of sweets. Little kids can shake his hand and maybe even have a conversation with Santa Claus. At the end of the village, children get a free ride on a carousal.
After all, they’re visiting Santa’s Village. Set in the heart of the Leuven Christmas Market, Santa’s Village is one of the things that sets this little festive market apart from others in the country. “Our idea was to create a little bit of Disneyland for our children here,” said Marc Pinte, one of the founding members of the market. “Children from Oostende, Brugge and other cities come all the way here for this,” he added.
Through the year the organisers looks for knick-knacks that can add to the cosy ambience of Santa’s various rooms. “Earlier we had a Santa at the festival, but there was no special corner. We then decided to create a Sparrenbos (Woods full of Christmas trees) and weave a story around it.”
And so, 10 years ago, this particular village was born. The festival itself is now in its 28th year. “When my brother, Dirk, started it there was no other festival in Leuven. We started out as a 3 day festival with 40 stalls,” said Marc. Today, the festival goes on for 10 days and has 141 stalls spread out across the Hooverplein and Ladeuzeplein. Vendors come from Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Holland, Greece and even Serbia. From woollen hats and Christmas baubles to homemmade fudge in all imaginable flavours, this is the best place to get some Christmas shopping done.
Start with a jaunt around the village to remind you of a Dickens novel or your favourite Enid Blyton… and let the Christmas spirit sink in.
Eat, drink and be merry!
- Try the Haute Wurst – created specially by Belgian celebrity chef Jeroen Meus
- There’s a half-meter long wurst at another stand. Get in line quick, they run out of food fast!
- Drop in at the Jenever stand to try over 100 different flavours. Leave your car at home.
- Gluhwein. Gluhwein. Gluhwein.
Free shuttle buses.
A free shuttle bus runs from IMEC to the Christmas Market every hour from 10am to 22.15. On Sunday it is until 20.15
For a good cause
International bicycle racing hero Eddy Merckx has organised a charity for children born and growing up with heart diseases. At the entrance of the Christmas Market you can buy a small candle for 1 euros and all proceeds go towards this fund.
Date and Timings
The market is open till December 20. Entry is free. There are live performances every evening, and this weekend you can catch famous Belgian artists such as Jo Lemaire and Barbara Dex.
Wintertijd in Leuven
The city also organises another market. Wintertijd in Leuven includes sales, a circus and decorations all around the city! They will also have concerts through Christmas and on to the New Year.
So step out and have yourself a wonderful festive season!