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Everything You Need to Know About Holiday Season in the Netherlands

Posted on Dec 13, 2022 by

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The season of joy, celebration and going crazy with family is upon us. I am a bit late for this party, but I gathered for you all the links you need to properly enjoy the month of December in the Netherlands. Christmas fairs, traditions, gifts and more, all in this list of things to do in the Netherlands in December.

Winter night Amsterdam
  • The first one and the most important is this list of Christmas markets and winter events in and around the Netherlands. All the gluhwein you can drink, all the good things you can eat and all the gifts you can buy: Christmas Markets.
  • Two beautiful events that are missing from the list above: Lichtjesavond Delft and Midwinteerfest Graft-De Rijp.
  • In many cities there are organised Christmas sing-a-long evenings, like these ones in Haarlem and Alkmaar.
Christmas Market Koln
  • Sinterklaas celebrations. This is the most exciting time of the year for Dutch kids, more than Christmas — although they will get presents for Christmas as well. But nothing compares to the glamorous arrival of Sinterklaas on a boat and his travelling through the city on a white horse, while his (still) controversial helpers are giving away candy.
  • Skate on the frozen canals, if you have the chance. If not, here’s a list of ice rinks to choose from: Ice Rinks Netherlands. Skating is a beloved sport in the Netherlands, and every year people are impatiently waiting for the canals to freeze. Dutch people love skating on natural ice and they are very good at it. If the conditions are right, an amazing event takes place: The Eleven Cities Tour ( Elfstedentocht). This is a skating race that goes through 11 cities. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen very often because there has to be a 15 cm thickness of ice for it to take place.
Frozen lake Hoorn
  • Enter the world of fairy tales at Winter Efteling. This entertainment park is amazing in any season, but it can be magical in winter, especially if there’s snow covering it!
Radboud Castle Medemblik
  • Don’t forget to visit a beach, because it’s healthy for you and you might even have the surprise of finding some snow.
  • It’s the season for oliebollen, so you have to eat at least ten! Here’s a recipe for oliebollen, but, given the amount of oil involved, I would advise you better buy them ready-made!
  • This month you can admire the beautiful lights in Amsterdam at the Light Festival.
  • And as the month comes to an end, and it’s time for New Year’s celebrations, you can brace yourself for a crazy fireworks show. Some cities banned the fireworks, except the ones for kids, but there are still plenty of places where they are allowed. The cities are a war zone on the last day of the year, because Dutch people love to make as much noise as possible and they are not stingy when it comes to put up the best firework show for their neighbourhood/street. There will be official fireworks shows as well, in a more organised manner.
  • After all that craziness, to start the year with fresh head, you have to do a Nieuwjaarsduik (New Year’s Dive) on the 1st of January! Go to any of the beaches, put on the swimsuit and dive into the freezing waters of the North Sea. There are a few organised events that you can attend, like the one in Scheveningen.
New Year's Dive

Practical info:

What’s the weather like in December? Well, most of the time it rains. That’s typical winter here in the Netherlands. Short, dark days, and rain. About 5-8 degrees Celsius. But, if you’re lucky, you might see two days of snow. Or it might be colder and then the sun comes out. And the canals freeze, and you will forget all about the rainy days!

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Check out my photo book here: Amsterdam Through the Seasons!
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