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Belgians are a street market kind of people, and as the second biggest city in the land, Antwerp has naturally sprouted some true gems. While one has been attracting marketgoers since medieval times, others have only recently bloomed into terrific platforms for young designer talent. Whichever tickles your fancy, all nine of these characterful open-air markets are worth a stroll.
Right in front of Antwerp’s Royal Museum of Fine Arts in the popular Zuid neighborhood, the Lambermontmarte market provides a place for amateur painters, drawers, and sculptors to show off their stuff just a stone’s throw from where some of the country’s biggest names are on display. Slaloming around easels, stalls, sketching artists, and crafting kids is the great charm of this monthly summer event. A clue as to its atmosphere is found in the last part of the market’s name, “Montmartre.” The eponymous French village where Renoir once lived boasts the Place du Tertre, one of Europe’s imminently stroll-worthy and romantic painter markets.
Once a month from May until September. Check the calendar here.
No artist has left a greater mark on Belgium’s premier port city than Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens, a fact the people of Antwerp are well aware of; they celebrate the brilliant painter/diplomat by throwing a yearly market day in his honor, period-style outfits and all. Clad in 17th-century garb, over 200 stallholders, including florists, bakers, fruit farmers, and all sorts of artisans, transport visitors back to Rubens’ time. Lasting from 8 am until 11 pm, the market takes up multiple squares around central showstopper Grote Markt, where the ancient City Hall and step-gabled guild houses truly help give a feel for the days of yore.
5th of August every year
Antwerp bookworms have a monthly reason to rejoice in the market that transforms the De Coninckplein square into “Book Square.” “Gezelligheid” is again held in high esteem by the organizers, who always makes sure that there is live music and a bite to eat.
Every third Sunday of the month except for the November–February period.
For fans of idiosyncratic stuff and full-fledged brocanteurs on the lookout for quality items, Brocantwerpen takes place on Antwerp’s main square about 10 times a year. Stallholders here tend to sell a lot of genuine antiques and other unique wares—think grandfather clocks, globes, crystal vases, and old suitcases that still have leather straps on them—though smaller pieces such as stamps and even matchboxes make their way to vendors’ tables too. Objects such as the occasional mounted fox and old movie posters make it even more of a collector’s dream.
Ten times a year during spring and summer. Check the calendar here.