Why the name Bird Market? (Vogelenmarkt or Vogeltjesmarkt in Dutch)
The famous Antwerp Bird Market originated in the 16th century. Originally, it was a market where people bought poultry, sheep and game. In 1912 the market moved from Meir to Oude Vaartplaats. It expanded with trade in clothing, shoes, food and antiques. The offer of birds, poultry and rodents broadened with exotic birds such as canaries, parrots and parakeets.
Over the years, the market has grown in size covering surrounding squares and streets. Today birds and rodents make up only a small part of the total offer. Now, it’s mostly clothing, sweets, general merchandise and accessories that you see in the stands.
Tourist attraction in Antwerp
In recent decades, the Bird Market transformed into a tourism attraction. Every Sunday, thousands of mainly Dutch and Belgian visitors come to the Antwerp Theater District to walk between hundreds of stalls. They want to discover how market vendors loudly advertise their products and taste the atmosphere. Serious shopping is generally not on their agenda.
Eating and drinking at the Bird Market
There is more than enough catering around the Bird Market. At the Oudevaartplaats and the Graanbeurs there are several bars and restaurants with cozy terraces. On the market there are different food stands as well. Actually, hanging around at the Bird market while eating some croquettes or oysters and drinking some (sparkling) wine, is a favorite pastime of many young people living in the city.
Visiting the Bird Market in Antwerp on a rainy Sundays
Part of the Vogelenmarkt is covered: a few dozen stalls stand under the canopy of the Stadsschouwburg. As a result, you can still comfortably visit a great part of the market on rainy days.
Location and opening hours of the Bird Market
The Bird Market is held every Sunday in and around Theaterplein from 8.00 to 13.00. It opens on public holidays as well. The stalls are located at the Oudevaartplaats, Theaterplein, Tabakvest, Maria Pijpelincxstraat and Graanmarkt. Entry to the market is, of course, free.
Alternative on Saturday: Exotic Market
The Exotic Market is held at Theaterplein in Saturday and features not only local, native Belgian products, but also spices, beads, fabrics, cheeses, nuts and fishes from Turkey, Morocco and various far-flung lands.