by Xinhua writer Gan Chun
BRUSSELS, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Spectacular light shows, bustling food stands, and an exciting ferris wheel ride above the historical city centre ---- these are only a few of the dazzling attractions featured at this year's "Winter Wonders" Christmas market in Brussels, as the city is striving to get people into the holiday spirit despite lingering fears of terror attacks.
The five-week outdoor fair, now in its 16th edition, kicked off over the weekend and runs daily from noon till late night.
It is one of the biggest outdoor Christmas festivities in Belgium, with some 240 wooden chalets selling all sorts of small commodities and traditional snacks.
"Some people were worried about last year's fair as well, but we ended up having a good business as previous years," Vincent, a 52-year-old local food vendor told Xinhua while busy serving hot wine and grilled sausages to customers queuing up in front of his booth.
"Terrible things happened, but we cannot let fears stop us," he said.
Sylvia, a mother of three from Britain, said she saw some warnings on the news before coming, but was not too scared to bring her kids to enjoy the festival.
"The terrorists are doing all they can to promote fears, to keep people away from happy things like this, but we should not be intimidated by them," she said.
The Belgian capital has been adopting tight security measures following last year's terrorist attacks in Paris and the bombings at the Brussels airport and a metro station in March.
The security alert in Brussels currently remains at level three, the second highest. Soldiers and military vehicles are still deployed at prominent places across the city centre.
In addition, the municipal police has reinforced its presence, with two mobile police stations erected at the Christmas market and police officers patrolling in plainclothes.
For the past week Belgian anti-terrorism and security departments have been sending out reassuring messages that the festival is not faced with any specific or imminent terrorist threat, after the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert suggesting that American citizens in Europe avoid such crowded outdoor events.
"We are indeed in a sensitive period in general, but to date, there is no concrete information about a threat," said the cabinet of the Belgian Interior Minister.
The travel alert was issued on November 22 after a terrorist plot linked to the Islamic State(IS) was thwarted in France.
It specifically references outdoor markets, popular throughout Europe during the Christmas season, as potential terrorist targets.
Belgian authorities also urged the media not to contribute to spreading fears after a local newspaper affirmed it had information about a threat targeting the Christmas market.
On Monday, however, several Belgian media reported that Rob Wainwright, director of the European Police Office (Europol) warned of possible attacks targeting European countries during the holiday season.
"IS opts deliberately for soft targets, with as many casualties and as much attention as possible. So we should not be blind to its desire to do something on special days," the Europol chief said in an interview with Belgian journalists.