The Netherlands springs to life in December, holding traditional Christmas markets in many towns against a backdrop of prettily illuminated gabled houses, canals, lavishly decorated Christmas trees and rousing carol concerts.
In the weeks before Christmas, food stalls fill Leidseplein and Koningsplein while Museumplein is transformed into Amsterdam’s biggest Christmas market, with jewelry stalls plus craft-making displays and an ice rink. The Funky Christmas Market at Westergasfabriek in Westerpark, from December 22nd – 23rd is packed with tree decorations, gift ideas and eclectic food stalls. The Amsterdam Light Festival takes place over Christmas along the Amstel.
Rotterdam ramps up over the festive season with a circus and China Light Rotterdam plus a Christmas market on Binnenrotte on two Sundays: December 14th and 23rd. Over 100 market stalls sell classic Dutch Christmas decorations and traditional delicacies.
Holland’s biggest Christmas market is at Dordrecht and stretches over the weekend of December 14th – 16th. Stalls fill the town from the Grote Kerk to the Groenmarkt with handmade Christmas gifts. Choirs and bands sing carols and there’s a skating rink on Scheffersplein.
Taking place on Sunday, December 16th, Haarlem’s Christmas market has over 200 painted wooden Christmas stalls and carol singing outside the town hall in Grote Markt.
Surely Holland’s most unusual Christmas market occurs in Valkenburg; it is held in two lavishly decorated underground cave complexes between November 16th and December 23rd. Santa Claus takes up residence in the Velvet Cave along with his reindeer, and stalls sell Christmas games, candles and tree decorations.
Utrecht’s Christmas market offers lots of organic vegetables, meats and chocolate plus handcrafted gifts and antiques, with food stalls selling soups, oliebollen, which are Dutch donuts, hot chocolate and glühwein.
At the feet of a Ferris wheel and running from November 30th through to New Year’s Eve, the Christmas Winterland market in Maastricht boasts a fair, lots of food and craft stalls and an ice rink against a backdrop of a festival of lights.
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