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 on Sunday, December 14, is packed with tree decorations, gift ideas and eclectic food stalls. The Amsterdam Light Festival takes place over Christmas along the Amstel. For more details of Amsterdam Christmas festivities, click here.
Rotterdam ramps up over the festive season with a vast Christmas tree outside the City Hall, a circus and Winter Fair at the Ahoy Convention Centre and a Christmas market on Binnenrotte and City Square between December 6 and January 4, 2015. Over 100 market stalls sell classic Dutch Christmas decorations and traditional delicacies.
The biggest of the Christmas markets in the Netherlands is at Dordrecht and stretches over the weekend of December 12th – 14th. 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 14th, 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 14th and January 4, 2015. Santa Claus takes up residence in the Velvet Cave along with his reindeer, and stalls sell Christmas games, candles and tree decorations.
Step back in time for a Dickens-themed Christmas market in Deventer, where over 200 stalls are crammed into the Grote of Lebuïnuskerk. More than 90 Dickens characters are brought back to life around town, from Scrooge to David Copperfield. Dates for 2014 are the weekend of December 21 through 22.
At the feet of a Ferris wheel and running from November 29th through to December 30, the Magical Maastricht Christmas market boasts a fair, lots of food and craft stalls and an ice rink against a backdrop of a festival of lights.