A Dutch Christmas: 2018 winter events

Edition 29 November, by Bárbara Luque

There’s no question the Dutch know how to keep their spirits warm in the cold winter days. In a perfect balance between their own Dutch festivities and more commercial traditions, winter holidays in the Netherlands have what it takes to be on everyone’s bucket list. Looking for Christmas markets, Winter Wonderland fairs and festivals? Here’s the ultimate guide for you to eat your way through (or just celebrate) the magical Dutch Christmas experience.

CHRISTMAS MARKETS

Valkenburg

One of the most-visited Christmas markets in Europe, this nostalgic event is held in the Gemeentegrot, at the bottom of the famous Cauberg. This cave market is an adventurous visit, with underground corridors full of lights, music and surprises. November 16 to December 23 Sun-Thu 10:00 to 22:00 Fri-Sat 10:00 to 21:00 Free <5 years €5 <12 years €6.50 >20 people €7 adults

Maastricht

This market cannot be missed, and it promises to be a great party this year, as it has been for the past few Christmases. Here you can enjoy the view from an immense ferris wheel, or go skating in an indoor skating rink. You can also find stalls with olliebollen, mulled wine and the best Christmas gifts. The chalets with red roofs really give the market a nostalgic Christmas appearance and make you feel blissful. December 1 to December 31 Mon-Wed 11:00 to 00:00 Thu+Sun 11:00 to 00:00 Fri-Sat 10:00 to 01:00 free access €4.50 Ice-skating rink

Dordrecht

This is the largest market in the Netherlands. The organizers put together an extremely varied program to ensure that there is something for everyone, including street theater shows, Christmas sing-a-longs and music venues with live performances. This market is built up in various locations through the city: Stadhuisplein, Grote Kerktuin, Vismarkt, Grote Markt and Waagplein. December 14 to December 16 Fri 10:00 to 21:00 Sat 10:00 to 21:00 Sun 11:00 to 18:00 free access

Roermond

The Munsterplein transforms into Santa’s village for this incredible market. This year the theme is “Dreams and wishes”, including a large wooden wishing tree in the square, where you can hang up a Christmas ball with your wish for the coming year. It also has a skating rink. November 17 to December 31 Mon-Tue-Thu 12:00 to 19:00 Wed-Fri 12:00 to 21:00* Sat 10:00 to 21:00* Sun 10:00 to 19:00 24+31 Dec until 17:00 *after 21 Dec until 19:00 free access

Den Haag

The “Royal Christmas Fair” is the place to go to do all your Christmas shopping in just one day. The atmosphere is perfect and the scented aromas of sweets, cheeses and mulled wine flow all around the market stalls. December 14 to December 23 Mon-Sun 12:00 to 21:00 free access

Leiden

This is the only “Floating Christmas Market” you will find in the Netherlands, as well as the winner of the Christmas Market Award. It is built on a plateau laid out on the water in the Nieuwe Rijn. All 75 decorated chalets are on board. December 14 to December 24 Mon-Sun 12:00 to 21:00 free access

Amsterdam

The Museumplein is transformed into winter wonderland with a skating rink and Christmas market for Ice* Amsterdam. When you have sufficiently taken advantage of the cold, you can warm yourself up with a delicious cup of hot chocolate. November 17 to February 3 Mon-Thu 10:00 to 21:00 Fri- Sat 10:00 to 22:00 Sun10:00 to 21:00 free access €6.50 Ice-skating rink

Deventer

This market is combined with the annual Dickens festival, which will take place in the third weekend of December. Here you can picture yourself in 19th century England and see how 950 characters from the books come to life. Moreover, a full Christmas music program has been devised to stimulate everyone’s Christmas mood. December 15 to December 16 Sat 11:00 to 17:00 Sun 11:00 to 17:00 free access

Tilburg

The attractions of this market will be found on the Hill, Heuvelstraat and all through Pieter Vreedeplein, Paleisring, Katterug and Paleisring. For a full day out, the Tilburg Christmas Market is recommended. December 7 to December 30 Mon- Sat 12:00 to 01:00 Sun 13:00 to 01:00 7 Dec 15:00 to 01:00 free access

Leeuwarden

This market is held in the Blokhuispoort. In addition to visiting the Christmas stands, you can also have fun on the ice rink. There’s a children’s circus and a wishing tree. December 15 to December 16 Sat 14:00 to 22:00 Sun 12:00 to 18:00 free access

COUNTRY AND CHRISTMAS FAIR

This event, considered the biggest Christmas market in the Benelux, takes place in the gardens of Kasteel de Haar. This year will be the 21st edition of the fair, which will host more than 220 stands of antiques, jewelry and clothing stalls, along with Christmas market traditionals mulled wine, poffertjes and stroopwafels. In addition to the stalls, you can enjoy lots of Christmas entertainment, from carol singers to spectacular water shows. Your day will be complete. November 20 to November 25 Tue-Sat 10:00 to 22:00 Sun 10:00 to 18:00 Free <12 years €10 for12-16 years (online) €11 for 12-16 years (at checkout) €17.50 adults (online) €22.50 adults (at checkout) €8 Parking card

CHRISTMAS CIRCUSES

Den Haag

This year will be the 20th edition of the Groot Kerstcircus Den Haag, taking place on the Malieveld from December 22 through January 6. It offers spectacular stunts and clowns with a high showbiz content by international artists. You can already buy tickets for this event, available from €20,50 €16,50 for children).

Eindhoven

For the 48th time, Parktheater Eindhoven organizes the International Christmas Winter Circus. This event includes an ice-skating rink at the Grote Foyer, which is open for one hour before the show and one hour after. There will be shows from December 22 through December 30, with tickets available from €20,50 (€15,50 for children).

Amsterdam

From December 20 through January 6, you can enjoy the World Christmas Circus on its 250th anniversary, its 34th edition in the Carré arena. Acrobats, horses, humor and unique performances are combined in this event, so that the whole family can enjoy. Ticket prices start at €20,50.

Maastricht

Circus Renz International will be in town from December 20 until January 6. The company promises a breathtaking show, with spectacular acts, beautiful animals, clowns and acrobats. You can already buy your tickets online, starting at €15 (€10 for children).

ICE RINKS

Scheveningen The CoolEvent in Den Haag includes an amazing ice rink, open from November 20 until January 20, as well as a super cool Ice Roetsjbaan next to the pier, where you can slide through the tubes for a fun time, open from December 1 until January 13. You can also enjoy the ice sculpture exhibition in the Ice Expo from December 1st until January 13.

Amsterdam

From November 17 until February 3, the Museumplein in Amsterdam will be transformed into Ice* Amsterdam, an amazing winter wonderland experience, where you can ice skate, enjoy a hot chocolate, eat at delicious food stalls, and buy a thing or two on the Christmas market. You can buy tickets to enter the ice rink online or at the counter for €5, or €11 including skate rental for two hours.

Amstelveen

The Winter Village in Amstelveen takes place in the city’s shopping center Stadshart. From December 7 until January 6, you can visit events and enjoy the ice rink, along with the Christmas market and food stalls. The ice rink admission tickets can be bought at the counter for €7 per person for two hours.

Maastricht

Magical Maastricht on the Vrijthof will be held from December 1 until December 31 and will offer an amazing skating rink covered with a transparent roof, and a special children’s ice rink, where the little ones can earn their ice-skating diploma. The event also includes a Christmas market with regional and crafted products, a big ferris wheel with great views, and the home of Santa Claus. Tickets to the event cost€15.50.

RAI Amsterdam

From December 21 through 30, the RAI Amsterdam (in- and outdoor) will be transformed into an ultimate winter experience, including a great ice rink under a blanket of lights. There will also be a ferris wheel, a slide on real snow and plenty of performances that make this a winter party. A regular ticket, which includes all the activities and music performances, costs €17,50.

Utrecht

The Spoorwegmuseum (Railway Museum) becomes even more beautiful during the holidays. An ice rink is placed in between the trains, and there is full program of music and children’s activities, changing daily. This event will take place from December 22 until January 6. Have a holy jolly Dutch Christmas! Or better yet: Vrolijk Kerstfeest!