The lights of Amsterdam shine even brighter throughout the holiday season, when the cool air wafts the pleasant scents of sizzling oliebollen (sweet dumpling) and fresh stroopwafel (thin baked waffle) across the city. The Netherlands offers some of the best Christmas markets in Europe, offering a wonderfully festive experience as you hunt through unique gifts from a huge variety of independent vendors. Christmas in Amsterdam presents stunning winter backdrops and a plethora of events and activities. Here are just a few of our favourite Christmas markets to visit in the land of Sinterklaas (the beloved Santa Claus of the Dutch) this winter.
Amsterdam Christmas Market
Every year Amsterdam’s Museum Square gets transformed into the magical Winter Market, with festive music and elaborate lights. The ice rink might steal the spotlight, but the small huts surrounding it are the secret stars of the show, with traditional food and gifts available from mid-December. Surrounded by the city’s best museums, the square is an idyllic spot for the exuberant, cosy winter haven, making the deceptively large Amsterdam Christmas Market hard to beat.
Dickens Festival, Deventer
For two days in December, the entire town centre of Deventer goes back in time to the days of Charles Dickens. Found less than two hours from Rotterdam Europoort, the streets here are filled with over 950 of the author’s best-loved (and loathed) characters, with choirs and orchestras spreading the festive spirit. The Dickens Festival also hosts a fantastic Christmas market held in and around the Grote Kerk (Great Church), with 75 different stalls selling all kinds of different toys, decorations and handicrafts.
Dordrecht Christmas Market
The magnificent Dordrecht Christmas market, around 45 minutes from the port of Rotterdam, takes place on a 2.5km stretch through the historic city centre – making it the largest festive market in the Netherlands. The streets are lined with stalls and pop-up tents housing live music, while a beautiful ice skating rink is sheltered from the wind by some majestic trees, with lights threading through their every branch. There’s no better place to pick up a gift or two as you take in the beauty of Christmas with a steaming mug of thick hot chocolate.
Christmas Town, Valkenburg
With a Christmas market in a cave, festive underground stalls, the Yuletide story told through marlstone sculpture and twice-weekly parades through the rustic city centre, it’s no wonder Valkenburg is known as Christmas Town. Once you’ve trawled the elaborately decorated stalls and filled your bags with traditional goods and gifts, take a walking tour of the old town with Route D’Amuse, sampling traditional light treats at five different highly-acclaimed restaurants along the way.
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