From November until January, towns and cities around the Netherlands host special markets selling dozens of festive items associated with the Dutch holiday season. These charming outdoor events oftentake place in particularly famous locales around the country such as Museumplein in Amsterdam and the caves beneath Valkenburg Castle. Here’s our pick of the best.
Ice* Village is attached to Amsterdam’s largest, seasonal ice rink on Museumplein and runs alongside the southern face of the Rijksmuseum. There are always plenty of delightful stalls dotted around the square, including several spots selling traditional pastries, mulled wine and other warming winter delicacies.
Museumplein, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
The ice rink outside the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam | © Roman Boed / Flickr
Groningen’s WinterWelVaart revolves around an extensive Christmas market that includes dozens of traditional, wooden stalls. The event spills over onto Groningen’s canals and features around fifteen ships that are either accessible to the festival-goers or employed as improvised stages for concerts or performances. The festival is a great way to discover Groningen’s beautiful town centre while getting in some Christmas shopping before the big day.
Lage der A, Groningen, the Netherlands
Dickens Festival Deventer
In mid-December every year, the western Dutch city of Deventer hosts an elaborate festival dedicated to Charles Dickens’ oeuvre. During this two-day event actors portraying characters like Ms. Havisham, Ebenezer Scrooge or Oliver Twist roam the city, reenacting scenes from Dickens’ books. There’s also a large Christmas market at the festival.
Brink, Deventer, the Netherlands
A sign marking the Dicken’s festival in Deventer | © Helena / Flickr
Christmas Market Velvet Cave
From November 17 to December 23, more than fifty merchants set up shop in the caves beneath Valkenburg Castle ruins in Limburg. These caverns are transformed into a winter wonderland complete with festive decorations and stalls. It is still possible to take a guided tour around the caves during the Christmas market or head above ground to visit Valkenburg Castle.
Valkenburg Castle Ruins, Grendelplein 13, Valkenburg, the Netherlands +31 43 609 0110
A nativity scene inside the caves | © Gimo61 / WikiCommons
Bourtange Christmas Market
Bourtange is a stunning fortified town that lies on the northern part of the Dutch-German border. This 16th century marvel hosts several weekend-long Christmas markets throughout December featuring stalls, illuminated decorations and an outdoor ice-rink.
Marktplein, Bourtange, the Netherlands
Maastricht’s historic Vrijthof square hosts a large, richly-decorated Christmas market from December 1 to January 1. Many seasonal events take place alongside the market including concerts, dance workshops and even a winter BBQ!
Het Vrijthof, Maastricht, the Netherlands
Het Vrijthof | © pixabay
Haarlem Christmas Market
Haarlem’s popular Christmas market ranks among the biggest events of its kind in the Netherlands and takes place on the city’s historic Grote Markt square every year. It’s easy enough to visit the market while staying in other city’s around north or south Holland, and Haarlem lies roughly ten kilometres away from Amsterdam. There’s always around 300 individual stalls at the market and it’s renowned for its delightful, festive atmosphere.
Grote Markt, Haarlem, the Netherlands
Winter Wonder Weeks
A floating market moored to the banks of the Leiden’s Nieuwe Rijn canal during the city’s Christmas celebrations. This aquatic attraction features many fairytale-esque wooden huts serving a wide variety of Dutch Christmas treats, as well as other delicacies from around the world. Aside from the market, Leiden also hosts events throughout the festive season including an illuminated parade, concerts and a kid-centric arts and craft festival.