AKA – Winter In Antwerp. If you have lived in Antwerp for more than a year, then you will know that Winter in A means that the historic centre is lit up for the Christmas season. It’s a lot more than a Christmas market -you will find festive activities on Steenplein, Suikerrui, Grote Markt, Handschoenmarkt and Groenplaats. There are market stands on Grote Markt, Groenplaats, Steenplein and Suikkerui and the ice rink is on Groenplaats. There is also a big wheel, tubing on Steenplein for the kids, and funfair activities along the riverside.
For something festive but a little off the beaten track, try Kerst in Boho (3pm -9pm) on the Krugerplein (Borgerhout). This is a nice local square with space for kids to play (and a bouncy castle). There will also be live music, food and drink and local creatives offering their Christmas wares for sale. And a ‘Geeftent’ where you can donate goods and clothes which are in good condition, and which you no longer need.
It’s likely to continue cold, with showers likely over the weekend. Sunday will be coldest when temperatures go down to zero.
I was delighted to learn that Nessascityblog was listed by Spotted by Locals in their list of Best Antwerp Blogs 2017. Spotted by Locals provides city tips from people who live in the 67 cities they feature.
China Light has opened at Antwerp Zoo. It’s a little bit more expensive than the events I usually include here, but it has become something of an annual feature of the Antwerp winter scene, and -if it’s dry – it’s worth seeing. The colours and lights are pretty and magical. It’s on until the 14th January.
And on Monday I pressed a special Nessascityblog post about English speaking theatre in Antwerp, featuring a review of BATS performance of Dracula, and information about an upcoming BATS production which will please theatre-goers of all ages …
International families with Spanish speakers, in Antwerp -see the green poster (left) for the December program of Colectivo Amorika
Next week will be my last blog post for a few weeks while I take a break for Christmas. But look out for a Christmas post by me on another well-known Antwerp site … more info soon!
Find me on social media, where additional events and locations are also posted:
Regular readers may have noticed that I frequently feature flea-markets on my blog posts. (or “Rommelmarkten” in Dutch). I enjoy going to these markets -they are often sociable places to hang out, with snacks or drinks also on sale, or take place in a communal space like a local square. I believe that buying second hand, trading hand-me-downs with friends and borrowing are ways in which we can keep costs down and simultaneously reduce our carbon footprint. I often buy second hand clothes for myself and my kids, and I love to get a bag of hand-me-downs, from parents of bigger kids, rather than buy new. Here is a brief guide to some of the second- hand shops in Antwerp, as well as some suggestions about recycling and donating your own used items. Rommelmarkten.be lists secondhand markets all over Belgium and this site enables you to search by location and date.
Oxfam has two shops in Antwerp. One is at Quellinstraat 28 (off Keyserlei) and sells second-hand books. It is open from 10 -6 on Mondays to Saturdays and most (but not all books are in Dutch). The other Oxfam store is not a second hand store -it’s a “Wereld winkel” (world shop) and sells goods produced by people in developing countries, often as part of Oxfam initiatives. There is a wide range of Fair Trade goods, and environmentally- friendly products such as those made by Ecover. Talking of books, don’t forget the Permeke Library on de Coninckplein (just through China Town) for borrowing books and DVDs. De Slegte on Wapper also sells (and will buy) second hand and antiquarian books.
My favourite second-hand shop is the “Kringwinkel” (recycling shop) at Sint-Jorispoort 29. It is really big and has four floors of second hand items, always in good condition. I have bought clothes, furniture and baby items at the Sint -Jorispoort Kringwinkel. It also sells toys, jewellery, kitchen and baby items. As well as buying from here, they will receive your used items at the front desk. For larger items, you can call them and they will take away your sofa or cupboard for free, if you arrange a time with them.
There are a couple of great places for second- hand clothing in Antwerp. Perhaps best known is Think Twice which has three shops in Antwerp: on the Jezus Straat (off Meir), on Lange Klarenstraat (also off Meir) and on Kammenstraat (towards the old town, off Nationalestraat). The prices are more than you would pay at the Kringloopwinkel or at a flea-market, but the stock is in good condition, well chosen and often pretty hip.
In a similar price range is Episode which also specialises in retro and vintage. It’s a roomy store with space to rummage and plenty of denim if you are looking for jeans, as well as fun fake fur, belts, shades … They are a chain and also have stores in The Netherlands and in Copenhagen.
If you are buying new and have a reasonable budget Today Is A Good Day on Nationalestraat specialises in eco- friendly shoes and clothing, but as you can see from the website, it is not cheap. However, if you have eco-cheques, and want to use them for clothes or shoes, you can spend them here.
A little further down is the same street is Jutka en Riska selling vintage, retro and second hand clothing, accessories and shoes -this is also a bit more hip than a regular charity store and so some prices are a bit higher here. They do sell new clothes from their own label -these are not cheap, but you can get lucky, as they do good reductions. They will buy in your 60s, 80s & 90s clothing and accessories.
If you are looking for labels at second hand prices, cross Astridplein from the station and turn left, where you will find Pardaf on Gemeentestraat. It’s easy to miss and looks like a residence. Inside the rooms are small, but there is a good choice of second hand designer clothes, accessories and bags.
In need of a second hand bike? Try Abakri. They also do bike repairs. Also, if you are going to be living in Antwerp for a limited time, you can buy a bike, return it within a year and get half the cost of the bike back.
Alternatively, there are the now distinctive red and white Antwerp Velos available for a cheap price at lots of handy locations around the city.
Gamers can get second hand games and consoles at Game Mania which also takes your used games for cash or store credit.
Antwerp also has a few independent second hand vinyl stores – a couple of these are located not far from the cathedral, coming away from Grote Markt, such as Fat Kat, The Vinyl Touch and Tune Up (above the International Magazine Store) which are all within a short walk of one another. Across the road from Vinyl Touch, at Wolstraat 1 is In’tProfijtelijkBoeksken (IBP books) which sells second hand books and vinyl.
Head south along Volkstraat to Coffee and Vinyl which -as the name suggests -will provide you with caffeine also. Local artists also exhibit here.
Finally, don’t forget to recycle or donate your own used goods. As previously mentioned, the Kringwinkel will pick up larger goods for you, if you contact them and arrange a time. Clean, usable items which are smaller, can be taken directly to Sint- Jorispoort, or books to Oxfam.
There are a number of selling pages on Facebook like this one or this one in English, but you might like to consider giving things away on Free & Recycled Antwerpen where you can also look at what others are giving away or post if there is something you need that someone else might be glad to get rid of (I once got rid of a bunch of old wood that had been hanging around on my balcony, but which some one else could put to good use). High street store H & M is also accepting used clothes as part of a recycling initiative.
A really good cause in the Antwerp area is Moeders voor Moeders which supports parents and families in need by supplying clothing, baby items & equipment and food to those in need of it. On Thursday and Tuesdays between 9 and 4 you can drop off these items at Helmstraat 91, or on the first Saturday of each month between 10 and midday. They are also keen to receive school bags and equipment for local children who need them, as well as sheets and towels.
Antwerp is pretty good for second hand shopping, in my view. All these stores are just about within walking distance of one another, so it would be easy to plan an afternoon and browse them all. These are just a sample, I know there are some I have missed which I need to explore on Koepoortstraat and a couple more on Nationalestraat too, so I am sure I will have to do some updates to this post….
So here sporting a gold-knit top from Blanco, a skirt from Morgan de Toi, with coat from Miss Selfridge, bag from Mexx (all second hand; total costs approximately 12 euros). The black and white houndstooth bangle was also second hand, but I don’t know where it is from.
The Christmas market is in full swing and will be on until 3rd January. Go on a clear day for great views from the top of the wheel, down by the Schelde. The bamboo installation on Grote Markt is also very impressive.
If you are looking ahead already, and would like to see a panto in English in the new year, you can order tickets already for the BATS production of Little Red Riding Hood. Guaranteed to provide traditional fun and please children of all ages.
On De Conninckplein, it’s the last day to a “Spiegeltent” which opens on the evening of the 17th December for a four day program by Time Circus. There will be music performances and various activities (face painting, Tibetan music, food workshops) on the De Conninckplein (in front of Permeke library) on the Saturday, which is Family Day.
Christmas day: Shops will be closed; Christmas market will be open; UGC cinema and the zoo will be open; some restaurants will be open and offering Christmas menus. Check for times, as there may be later opening hours for anything that is open. It’s business as usual for Turkish and Moroccan shops.
Have a fantastic Christmas! I will be posting again on a regular basis in 2016, and possibly before then with some suggestions for the days around New Year.
Thanks so much for following; please leave comments, feedbacks and any suggestions for events which you think I should include.
If you have not noticed the festive feeling starting up in Antwerp, then you really need to get out and do so, if you can. For us -as a family resident in Belgium, with both Dutch and UK influences- this weekend is the one where Christmas overlaps with Sinterklaas, so this post will hopefully contain a bit of both ….
If you are ready to start the weekend immediately after work on Friday, I recommend Plein Publiek which opens at 4 for drinks, 5 for food and the dancing starts at 9. It’s a very attractive venue, placed in the middle of a now-disused social housing complex, near Nationalestraat..
If you have walked through the old town this week, you will have seen the stalls being set up for the Christmas Market which will dominate this part of the city from this Saturday when it opens. Stalls selling Christmas goods, foods and snacks will be found near the cathedral, on Grote Markt, Suikkerui, Groenplaats and Steenplein. The ice rink is usually on Steenplein, and the Christmas wheel is nearby. It’s the perfect place to meet friends, or take family. The market is on daily until 27th December.
For a smaller and more off-beat Christmas Market experience, head to the Vrijdag Markt at 4pm for music, DJs and food trucks.
BUT … If you have children who are in Sinterklaas mode, then he can be seen in various locations around the town centre and will be stopping in Grand Bazar; this is usually quite busy, with kids queuing, seeing Sint and being pictured with him. He is also believed to be visiting this fleamarket on the Sint Jansplein, at 2pm, with his Pieten.
I recommend the bookmarket at the Zuiderpershuis, which is still on. It’s a stock sale and the reductions are good. Most titles offered are in Dutch, but with some fashion, design and art books in English. Lots of books for children and toddlers, if you are buying gifts for kids and babies. It’s worth going just to see this attractive venue, if you don’t already know it, and it is a short walk from FOMU and Cinema Zuid, which are also worth knowing about.
If you like to donate and recycle at this time of year, why not take clothes, food and children’s items to Moeders voor Moeders on Helmstraat? They receive deliveries on the first Saturday of each month, between 10 and 12, and work to support families with children in need, in the Antwerp area.
It’s the first Sunday of the month, so there is Sunday shopping around the town centre (note that most shops open a little later, though, at around midday).
However, maybe you would like to get away from Sinterklaas, Christmas and shopping, to a vernissage (3pm) at this Gallery in Zurenborg curated by local artist, Eva Steynen?
There is a different type of Exhibition for fans of Tintin (and other Belgian comic book characters) which finishes up on Sunday.
Another way to take a break from the consumerist side of this season would be to donate clothing to The Empty Shop project, which is running until the 12th December at the Youth Hostel on Bogaardplein. Your clothing will be restyled and sold to raise funds for the Kamiano Restaurant which provides meals for homeless people in Antwerp.
Whether you are enjoying Christmas, Sinterklaas, shopping or something a bit different, have a great weekend. Alas, it might be a good idea to take an umbrella out with you so that the predicted drizzle doesn’t spoil your fun