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Family-friendly getaways around Belgium this winter
Learning is fun and hands-on at recreational and educational centre Houtopia, dedicated to the five senses. Located near Houffalize in the Ardennes, it welcomes families all year round. If the outdoor playground and adventure trail with thrilling 30m toboggan descent are best enjoyed in better weather, inside is packed with more than 70 experiences encouraging kids to explore the world around them.
The Hautes-Fagnes reserve extends from East Belgium into Germany, and as the highest point in the country, it attracts wintry conditions. You’ll find trails for cross-country skiing, cycling and hiking; the fenland is traversed via signposted wooden walkways. Explore the atmospheric 14th-century Reinhardstein castle – home to medieval activities for all ages – and Robertville lake and dam, ideal for walks with panoramic views.
Wallonia’s top city destination, Liège is packed with family-friendly activities as well as a German-style Christmas village. The Aquarium Museum, House of Science (with treasure hunts up and down the slopes of the citadel), Archeoforum and Museum of Walloon Life are but a few. Stroll the banks of the Meuse or head off on foot from the Guillemins station to the Boverie park and playground, crossing the river via the La Belle Liègeoise foot and bike path. Don’t miss local specialities, sugar-encrusted waffles and savourysweet meatballs known as boulets.
Antwerp Zoo’s China Light Zoo show is an evening parcours of colossal light installations that tell the story of a princess and her beloved. Chinese lanterns, arches, waterlilies and the story’s characters glow with bright colours, supplemented by dance performances. Combine with a matinee, also in the zoo, of The Charkov City Opera & Ballet’s family-friendly Nutcracker on 16 December and Swan Lake on 6 January. Until 13 January
As blustery winds turn the sea wild, the coastal cities embrace the charm of the holidays. Ostend has a new Christmas market, with more than 50 chalets plus ice skating. Santa’s House is a picture-perfect background for your Christmas cards, and the Light Tunnel over Adolf Buylstraat offers a spectacular show four times a day. Until 6 January
It’s off the beaten path, but that just adds to the appeal of the 17th-century Beauvoorde castle in West Flanders. There’s a tour for kids, a free hot drink and, for a limited time, an Elf Escape Room. Another castle worth visiting is Alden Biesen in Limburg, which has a fascinating history, mystery tours plus concerts and exhibitions.
This article first appeared in The Bulletin winter 2018. Pick up a copy in newsagents today or subscribe here...