Het Zand Saturday Market and the Zandfeesten
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
Vismarkt or Fish Market
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
Dijver Folklore Market
On the picturesque lane of the riverside Dijver in the Old Town centre, Bruges organises something it likes to call its ‘folklore market’. Gathered underneath the trees on blankets and rickety tables is a delightful mix of bric-a-brac items, old books and handcrafted objects, often going for a nickel and a dime. What keeps locals from calling it a flea market is the added rules: stuff either has to be handmade as part of a recognised art form or craft or has to be older than 50 years. It’s one of the more romantic and nostalgic saunters in town, which, knowing Bruges, is quite the accolade.
From the second half of March until the first half of November, every Saturday, Sunday and holiday, and every Friday from June until September. From 10 AM to 6 PM.
Sunday Market on the Veemarkt
Since its move to the Veemarkt Square in the St Michiels neighbourhood over five years ago, Bruges’ Sunday Market has been thriving. Outside of the Old Town centre now and with more than 80 stalls peddling Bruges sausage, local cheeses straight from the farm, homemade jams and lots of fruits and veggies (including organic), this is where the gourmet Bruggeling goes to stock his or her pantry.
Sundays until noon
Wednesday Market on the Markt
Simply called Markt, or ‘Market’, Bruges’ main square has a history as a bustling merchant plaza that organised international markets as far back as 1200. Vendors used to gather in the market hall, topped by the ancient Belfry, to sell their artisanal products and linen, and a fish market had nestled itself in one corner of the square by the end of the 14th century. The market hall is now a tourist and event hot spot, and the fishmongers have found a charming nook of their own, but the merchant spirit is still felt on Wednesday morning when the flower and food market gets underway. The smell of hot rotisserie chicken sizzling away typically wafts over the square, and again, lots of local cheeses, meats and other delicacies are offered straight from the farm. During the holiday season, a ring of wooden chalets pops up to keep visitors warm with hot cocoa, mulled wine, sumptuous Belgian waffles and an abundance of seasonal joy.
Wednesdays from 8 AM to 1:30 PM