Archive photograph of the Christmas market in Antwerp pre-corona.
Gianni Camilleri

Antwerp cancels Christmas markets, New Year’s Eve fireworks and New Year’s reception

The city authorities in Antwerp have cancels three of the largest events from its “Winter in Antwerpen” city festival. The Christmas market, the New Year’s Eve fireworks display, and the tradition New Year’s reception will no longer take place. The decision to cancel the events was taken at a meeting of the City Crisis Cell on Friday. 

Work was already under way on the construction of the wooden chalets used by the stall holders at the Christmas market.  

The Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever (nationalist) told VRT News that "This is not an easy decision, but the measures taken at a supralocal level, and the rising (coronavirus) curve have unfortunately left us with little choice. Moreover, we noticed that there was less and less enthusiasm among the stall holders”. 

Under the current restrictions it is almost impossible to allow a Christmas market that is spread all over the city centre to take place legally.  When the Consultative Committee announced stricter measures a large number of the stall holders is reported to have asked the city authorities to cancel the market. 

Moreover, Mayor De Wever points to the logistical issues that organising the market within the framework of the current restrictions would pose. It is for this reason to that the city authorities decided to cancel the New Year’s Eve fireworks display and the traditional New Year reception. 

Skating rink, big wheel and “Winterfoor”

Despite the cancellations mentioned above, several other “Winter in Antwerpen” activities will take place as planned. These include the outdoor ice-skating rink with adjoining bar, the big wheel, the winter funfair the commercial radio station Joe’s “Christmas House”, the traditional nativity crib and various other activities and attractions.

Meanwhile, in order to allow people to do their Christmas shopping as safely as possible extra measures will be taken on Antwerp’s main shopping street the Meir. Dynamic signs and at peak times stewards will be on hand to remind shoppers to respect the rules on social distancing and to wear a face covering when it’s busy. 

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