This diamond capital will add a sparkle to your holiday season this winter. Situated in the heart of Belgium and only a short journey away on the Eurostar, it's the perfect winter break for both couples and families. Antwerp contains all the ingredients for an unforgettable end-of-year celebration in the heart of the city, as HELLO! discovered earlier this month.
As we arrived into Antwerp we were taken back by the magnificent central station, an Art Deco palace where trains pull in on three levels and the main marble hall soars up to 44 metres, a metre higher even than Antwerp's cathedral. Just a short walk away was our hotel, Hilton, in the heart of the city's historic centre. Before winter in Antwerp really kicked off we explored the Meir – the city's equivalent of Oxford Street - which boasted fantastic boutiques and concept stores all open Sundays throughout December.
The Meir leads to the cathedral, market square and Grote Markt where we spent our first evening for the festive opening party of Winter in Atwerp. The party kicked off with a medley of the greatest hits of DJs Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike in the grand Cathedral tower. The buildings surrounding the Cathedral were are all decorated with Christmas lights, which led you along the Christmas market holding over one hundred chalets selling Christmas presents, mulled wine and Belgium chocolates.
As the festivities went on, we took a stroll just off the market to Steenplien where we enjoyed a romantic ride on the giant Ferris wheel with the sparkling city below us. The wheel has a magnificent view of the city - the River Scheldt and the harbour during the day and evening. There are plenty of winter adventures, from the impressive ice-skating rink in Groenplaats, to Slip-sliding your way down the tubing course. We had a rest in a cosy corner of the luxurious riverside restaurant RAS, an architectural masterpiece as many buildings in Antwerp are. It felt like we were dining in the sky as we had a 360° view of the river and district.
On our second day we wanted to get the ultimate photo of the city so took a short walk to Museum wan de Stroom (MAS) Anterp’s biggest Museum. Antwerp is a city on a river with a port, that has provided encounters and exchanges for centuries. The MAS collects traces of those exchanges and tells new stories with them. Stories about the city, the river and the port. The Building is a work of art in itself, a huge, contemporary storehouse inspired by the 19th-century depots. When we arrived on the roof we were mesmerised by the view of the city, the river and the port. There's plenty of must do museums, monuments and churches to explore within Antwerp.
Our last evening we admired the China Light Zoo within Antwerpen Zoo, where you can walk amongst a dazzling array of beautifully crafted, giant colourful lanterns inspired by animals, flowers and mythical creatures. Perfect for an evening wonder with hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream. Just outside the zoo, you will find the Diamond Dome which has a spectacular 360° film on about Antwerp and the fabulous Diamond district.
All the Winter in Antwerp events take place from Saturday 9/12 until Sunday 7/01, unless otherwise stated. To plan your Winter in Antwerp visit; visitantwerpen.be