The regular Saturday market on ’t Zand Square makes for a great stroll between stalls selling just about everything under the sun, but the real draw to the neighbourhood comes in the summer, thanks to the Zandfeesten. The ‘Zand festivities’ are best described as the High Mass of Flanders flea markets. Named after the spacious square just inside Bruges’ city core that forms the heart of the event, it only comes around three Sundays a year in the summertime. Visitors from far and wide enjoy rummaging through a cornucopia of grandma’s lampshades, little farmland paintings, kitschy vases and old board games.
Visitors will hear several languages throughout the crowd as avid brocanteurs travel from neighbouring countries to dig deep into the treasures during early morning prowls on the Zandfeesten yield. B&Bs in the neighbourhood fill up fast with day-trippers who have their heart set on snagging the morning’s hidden treasures. The massive market encompasses ’t Zand, the Beursplein Square and the Koning Albert I Park, making for a five-kilometre-long (3.1 miles) walk for those who traverse the entire thing. Meanwhile, fanfare bands take care of general merriment and add a folkloric touch.
Saturday market: from 8 AM to 1:30 PM on Het Zand
Rain or shine, the Vismarkt (‘Fish Market’) lives up to its name five days a week. Speciality vendors have been selling their fresh seafood from underneath the plaza’s rows of colonnades for close to two centuries, since 1821. Shooed away from their original spot on a corner of the main Markt Square by locals who could no longer stand the smell, this is where they settled. With modern technologies and ice-laden counters in place, the smells are gone, but the raw and prepared treasures from the nearby North Sea are sold in optimal conditions. The Magdalena Quarter where they’re situated has become synonymous with food suppliers that offer artisanal and quality produce, and on Friday evenings in the summer, the arcade becomes an open-air tapas bar with aperitifs, fish-based snacks and live concerts.
Tuesdays to Saturdays, from 8 AM to 1:30 PM