Christmas markets, lights, ice skating and more

The holiday spirit is always alive in the Netherlands, especially when you visit the festive Christmas markets. But that’s not all, many Christmas events take place all over the country, making the Netherlands an excellent place to get in the spirit! In many Dutch cities, temporary ice rinks are also set up so that locals can practice their favorite hobby in winter: ice skating.

The much-anticipated arrival of Sinterklaas marks the most important event leading up to Christmas in the Netherlands. The popular Dutch holiday figure arrives by steamboat at the end of November, and together with his band of helpers, give kids a reason to celebrate on December 5th,, – after which, the whole country makes its preparations for Christmas. The Christmas markets are a definite must-see this winter season!

The Dordrecht Christmas market is the largest of its kind in the Netherlands, with close to 300 stands and an ice-skating rink. You can enjoy a glass of glühwein (mulled wine) and join a Christmas sing-along. The Christmas market in Dordrecht is entirely free to visit.

Looking for a Christmas market set in a location unlike any other? Then be sure to visit Valkenburg aan de Geul, where underground Christmas markets can be found in the Fluwelengrot and the Gemeentegrot. Enjoy Christmas parades or the Route d’ Amuse culinary route in Valkenburg’s city center.

A full Christmas market can also be found in Deventer as part of the Dickens Festival. One weekend in December sees the historic city center transform back to the time of Charles Dickens. Over 900 characters from his books come to life here. As a further part of the festival, a Christmas market with roughly 200 stalls is held in Deventer’s central square.

Maastricht is a fascinating city to visit no matter the time of year. The city is filled with plenty of splendid landmarks and excellent places to shop. Over the Christmas period, Maastricht receives an extra magical touch. Visit Maastricht’s Christmas market at the Vrijthof for all your Christmas shopping needs, go ice skating, or check out the panoramic sights from the Ferris wheel.

Finally, the holiday season isn’t complete with a festival of lights! During the Amsterdam Light Festival, the canals of Amsterdam are illuminated with works created by the best light artists in the world. You can see these mesmerizing pieces by foot or by boat. Gouda’s city center also radiates in the glow of thousands of candles during “Gouda by Candlelight”. The candle-lit evening takes place on the city’s central market square.

See how a winter wonderland happens in the Netherlands
See how a winter wonderland happens in the Netherlands, ©Hollandse Hoogte / ANP Foto.

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